Wii Phoebe

I have decided, as of like 5 minutes ago, to no longer limit my children’s time with the iPad or Wii.

I can hear the gasps and tsk-tsk-tsks from 99% of the audience.

What brought this on, you may ask? Well, my 3-year-old is going through a Wii phase. She eats, sleeps, and breathes the Wii. Ask her at the end of the day what her favorite part of that day was, and she will tell you it was playing Wii, even if she didn’t actually get the opportunity to play Wii that day; the Wii is always on her mind. Never mind if she saw a triple rainbow or was given a lollipop at the pharmacy, she just wants to brag about beating the bad guy in her Kirby game.

About an hour ago, I made her turn the Wii off. Surprisingly, there were no tears; she simply retrieved the iPad and started doing her iPad thang. Something bristled in me. There was that voice, that annoying voice telling me that she had exceeded her screen time, that playing with the iPad, after having spent the morning playing Wii, would somehow damage her developmentally or psychologically. I mentally braced myself for the tantrum as I gently said to my daughter, “Sweetie, you need to put the iPad away and do something else.” She calmly looked up at me and said, “Why? I want to play my game. I’m good at this!”

And I had no answer.

So I got to thinking…and my thinking process is not linear or organized, so hold on to your hats and try to keep up…but what’s the big deal? If she were reading books for 10 hours a day, would I try to limit her book-reading time? If the piano in the living room suddenly caught her attention and she decided to spend all day learning to play it, would I stop her after a couple hours? As a 3-year-old, very little of her world is in her control. Someone else makes her meals, picks her clothes, decides when she can leave the house and where she goes; shouldn’t she have the opportunity to pick how she spends her free time? What is so wrong with an activity that improves her problem-solving skills, rewards her with positive reinforcement, builds on her strengths and works on her weaknesses, teaches her to work as a team with other players, and challenges and improves her balance and hand-eye coordination? Shouldn’t I be encouraging an activity that instills a sense of pride in her accomplishments? My girls absolutely radiate and glow pride when they conquer the Wii bad guys or go up a level in an iPad game. They do happy dances and want to tell everyone they know about their special skills and accomplishments. What good, really good reason do I have to limit this?

I was just interrupted in my writing by my 5-year-old daughter, who, having just returned from running an errand with Daddy, asked me hesitantly if she and her younger sister could play Wii. My reply of “Absolutely!” was at first met with wide-eyed surprised, followed quickly by squeals of joy and excited discussions of strategy.

Something I thought earlier must have made sense to that annoying inner voice because I heard no objections or dire warnings inside my head.

Then again, it’s hard to hear anything over the high-pitched squeals of victory going on downstairs. The bad guy must have bit it. That’s my girls!


Every family is different; we would love to hear about your experiences with screen time limits in the comments section.


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11 Responses to Why I Decided To Do Away With Screen Time Limits

  1. mike says:

    moderation is the words, with kids different activities, provide different learning curves and challenges, you want you kids to try new things, sitting there playing game and staring at the ipad all day long is too much of one thing is also not good for the body of a kid….. there are many answers that I can give you but like you said in the article every family is different

    • Jess says:

      You’re right, Mike, moderation is key! I think what differs between families is whether moderation is measured in the small picture or big picture. For some families, it works best to enforce moderation on a daily basis. However, for my family, we work best at practicing moderation in the big picture. Sure, I may allow them to spend a whole rainy day playing Wii or games on the iPad, but then the next 5 sunny days they play outside while their electronic playthings collect dust. It’s all in the perspective. Thank you for sharing yours!

  2. LeeAnn says:

    I appreciate this perspective! My husband is vehemently opposed to unlimited screen time, but it doesn’t bother me near as much (especially since I am five months pregnant with a two and a half year old boy!) so in our house we have no screens before Papa goes to work, and no screens after dinner unless its a special family movie night. Weekends we try to stay under two-three hours total, ipad and tv but we’re often doing something so that isnt a problem. He spends one day a week at daycare and we have music classes and library time, etc, but around all that I don’t really limit his tv or ipad time. I do push back sometimes and he often gets engaged in playing with something else with no fuss, and comes back after a bit to ask again for screen time. Personally, I feel that I had unlimited tv as a child, and grew up a voracious reader. At this point I feel that as long as it’s not all we’re doing all day every day, arbitrary limits don’t do us any good. My husband and I struggle about sweets intake with this same philosophy…he wants to limit them severely, I feel if you don’t have them in balanced moderation you won’t learn to treat them properly when you’re in charge of your own eating choices. It’s the same with screen time imo.

    • Jess says:

      Thank you, LeeAnn, for sharing. You bring up another challenge when it comes to the decisions we make for our children– the other parent! When both parents are on the same page, decisions regarding TV time and food restrictions can be pretty simple to make and enforce. However, when each parent has a different point-of-view, the situation becomes a bit more challenging and confusing. Nothing’s easy when it comes to raising kids, but you know you’re a good parent when you at least give these kinds of things some thought. You have their best interest at heart, and that’s what matters 🙂

  3. Gypsy says:

    I sat down with “me” the other day and had this very talk.
    The joy of being a grandparent is the chance to not only use our childhood as a guide, but the experiences of having raised a child before.
    With a 3 yr old grandson here full time in the week, I have seen how fantastic the joys of iPad can be. He has learned quicker via good games than my old fashioned ways. Now, that said, I do limit WHAT kind of games he does play.
    There is just too much bash up, hit, wreck, scream, loud violence in some games, that serve no purpose but destruction.
    I deleted a racing app for that very reason. He did nothing but get ramped up and very argumentative after playing.
    I found a series of apps this week that are EXCELLENT that he really loves…
    Bugs & Buttons – listed this week as Apples free favorite.
    Why some wrote bad reviews I don’t understand, there is so much to do in this game. I don’t think they gave it a good play.
    Anyway…. I have a Wii system, given to us but to date never used, brand new under the console I had not considered for him until reading this, kinda forgot it was there….
    I will be doing that this week!
    After a few days of freedom to play with the iPad at will, the intensity has calmed, he actually brought it to me and said charge time, after just 3 hrs of play, then ask for lunch, afterwards he said he was redy for quiet time, so we curled up in my recliner and snuggled down to a quiet movie and a nap together.
    Adults in complete control all the time is frustrating to kids, and it is far more productive to learn a balance of give & take. They do not want to rule the world totally, but a challenge is a challenge.
    Mine would rather play with me that just do it alone. My house work suffers, oh well. The days of me being his only sidekick are disappearing so fast already – who cares about laundry!
    Soon he will be in school, I can clean while he is gone.
    Learn which things are a problem or battle to be fought, and learn how to teach in a way that “No” & “Not Right Now” do not have to be such a traumatic zone.
    Right now we share my iPad3. We had thought of one of the kids tablets but after reviewing one, and seeing him on iPad, he will be getting his own mini iPad for Christmas. It will be one of the best investments we can make for his future!

    • Peter says:

      I think it depends on the kids! My boys are absolutely obsessed with computers, iPads and xbox! We limit their time because if we didn’t that’s all they would do! I know it’s not good for them because if they have been on technology for more than an hour, they get very upset when we try to get them off! Also, they are just different kids after being on technology! I believe everything on moderation!

  4. Deadshift says:

    I think people take away the wrong message about limiting screen time. The screen isn’t bad, just like eating peanut butter isn’t bad, but it shouldn’t be the only thing you consume. So long as your children are still doing other things I think it’s fine. There is a different value in spatial relations and mechanics that one gets from legos or blocks. A different open-ended creativity and exploration from crayons, paper, and glue. A different type of effort /reward trade off you learn from reading a book or other long form organized thought.
    Old rules about screen time were more about keeping kids social, and not getting lost in an isolated world. That concern remains, but most games now encourage playing with others and socializing externally about the game. The screen isn’t the evil displacer of interactive communication that it once was. Although cable TV is still pretty mind-numbing and advertising saturated. I’d rather my kid used the ipad than watched TV.

  5. P says:

    How on earth do you get them off nicely anyway? They say they’ll lose all their progress, and I hate doing that to them. I also hate having to sit there waiting for a save point to come up so I can get them to bed, but I’d rather they didn’t remember me as the guy who wrecked their games every night.

  6. Gail Shandley says:

    There has been extensive research into this subject and the studies have PROVEN that even a small amount of screen time damages a child’s brain & not just a child’s brain but screen time also affects adults brains. A book/piano are inanimate objects that are not powered by electricity or emitting any kind of frequency or radio waves, you cannot compare the two. I suggest if you REALLY want to know the valid, scientifically proven reasons as to why experts suggest limiting screen time that you do some actual research on the reasons behind the recommendations.

  7. soundofsilence says:

    First off, ipad does not improve problem-solving skills, nor is it positive reinforcement to not say no to a kid. It doesn’t build any strengths and it doesn’t teach any team building skills. It does however strain the eyes forcing them to a life of thick coke bottle classes, destroys critical thinking skills and turns them into an addict. This new generation of yes parenting is weakening kids. Yes go ahead and spend 10 hrs on the ipad, want cake for dinner sure why not. Technology is destroying us from the inside. Which is why I put major limits on technology, internet, etc. Kids hooked on technology are not as smart as kids who play outside and learn real skills that matter.

    • Emily says:

      With every new technological advance, there has been concerns raised about its impact on the young developing brain. Some of the points you make are purely subjective, and that’s okay – bottom line is that we all do what’s best for our own unique situation. Jessica was just sharing her particular point of view on the topic of screen time in hopes that it might allay some anxiety that many parents have about how to handle screen time limits.