How much screen time should you allot a tot?

How much screen time should you allot a tot?

The UAE's influencers voice their opinions

Published: Thu 4 Jan 2018, 11:00 PM

Last updated: Fri 12 Jan 2018, 10:24 AM

I'm mum to two toddlers - Khalifa, my son, is three-and-a-half years old and my daughter, Jude, has recently stepped into the world of toddlerhood by turning a year old last month. A lot of parents say that they only allow TV for an hour or two a day, but that just doesn't work in my house. I'm very flexible about TV time; some days we have more and some days we don't have any. I don't mind having the TV on in the background while my kids are playing, because I feel like there are a lot of educational things that they pick up, whether it be through songs or sayings. 
Although I'm not strict about the amount of TV they watch, I'm very stern about the quality of TV that they watch. They're like little sponges - they soak up so many phrases and mannerisms from the characters of the shows they watch. I always make sure what they are watching is age-appropriate and educational, and the characters are not rude or say mean things (because I know Khalifa will easily repeat that stuff back to his sister!). I usually let them watch Netflix Kids because it's a lot easier for me to control what they are watching, as opposed to just random kids' channels on TV. 
While I'm not strict with TV time, I am very strict about screen time on phones and iPads. My son is only allowed to watch YouTube videos once in a blue moon (1-2 times per month, if even that). I'm much more unyielding when it comes to YouTube because the content is so different from television, and kids are exposed to videos that are nowhere near appropriate. In fact, there are even videos that have Spiderman and Frozen characters in them, but portray really inappropriate messages. If you just lean over to take a quick look at their screen, you wouldn't be able to tell the difference because all of the characters appear kid-friendly - it really is shocking how unmonitored YouTube is! 
I would really recommend you watch a bit of what your kids are watching, so you can truly know if that's something that you want them to be looking at or not! After all, it is important to know what our little ones' minds are constantly being exposed to.
Mizra Al Hosani
Is the blogger behind, a site on great findings in the UAE. You can follow her on Instagram @sweetlifeinthesandpit
With all the gadgets available and easily accessible in this era, it won't be shocking to see a toddler who's managing a tablet better than an adult! There are many different applications, programmes, educational websites and television shows out there that might have parents wondering, 'Is screen time really bad for our children?'. I don't think there is a simple and direct answer to this question since it all depends on personal opinion; however, there are factors that you can take into consideration as a parent. 
For example, when my son Zaid was younger than 2 years, I tried my best to make his time screen-free since, at that age, kids are still developing their language so screen time might be a factor that contributes to speech delay. Once he became older, I gave him an hour a day to spend watching TV or playing on the iPad under supervision. There are plenty of educational applications that helped Zaid develop. Nevertheless, I tried my best not to allow him to use the iPad while he was eating since it could have made him develop bad habits. Children who use gadgets while eating start getting used to eating while watching something, so much so that when the gadget isn't available, they won't eat. 
Here's another way of thinking about it: if your child spends time on a tablet, he or she is not walking, running or exploring his/her environment which might result in obesity. At a young age, it's better for children to play outside, and to learn and interact with other children. 
As your child grows older, technology and screen time can be beneficial to them since they can help them learn. Some applications can enhance a child's vocabulary and knowledge. Therefore, as parents, we must look for applications that are age-appropriate, interactive and educational. We must set limits and make sure screen time does not restrict our children from socialising, playing and learning from the world around them.   
Zahira Kaddoura
Is a Lebanese mommy blogger. You can follow her on Instagram @mommyzdiaries

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