Raising a Media-Free Toddler Is for People Who Live With Unicorns

toddler ipadTrying to follow the American Pediatric Association's guidelines for media and toddlers? (It boils down to "None zero nada media for your toddler, okay? Okay.") Well, I wish you a hearty good-luck-with-that. Thanks to the wonders of technology screen-time is harder to avoid than ever before. Here's a headline that might make you cringe: Today's electronics ensure toddlers won't be media-free.

In the olden days, "media" was just that big box in the living room, the TV. Now media is everywhere -- most households have TV sets in several rooms so watching has become a more solitary activity. But TV-SchmeeVee. Now the iPhones, iPads, video players in the minivan, and portable this-n-thats are raining down upon us. What's a parent to do?


Build a freakin' moat. I know a few parents who try really hard to keep their kids media free for the most part -- but it means going to extremes. For starters, there's no TV anywhere in the house. If the parents want to watch a movie, they watch it on their laptop -- after the kids have gone to bed.

My media-free parent friends also try to find other media-free families to hang out with. They'll still hang out with me (we're a little more media-friendly) -- and they've had a positive influence on me. I'll bend to peer-pressure sometimes, I admit, especially when I feel like it's in my son's best interest. But it really helps to find other playmates who can support their screen-free choices.

And here's the really tough part: Money. My screen-free parenting friends all happen to also be relatively well off. They buy amazing creative toys hand-made by German elves (just kidding about the elves). If they work full time, they hire creative, thoughtful sitters who play with their kids. Their kids go to preschools that offer creative storytelling, small classes, wet felting for crying out loud. Going screen-free in this modern world can be super expensive. Unless, of course, you live off the grid. Which is another option.

Oh I know, it doesn't have to be expensive. In the olden days, kids used to just run outside and play with sticks. But then, in the olden days sticks had no competition. A stick vs. "Dinosaur Train"? The stick loses every time. Unless your toddler never, ever learns what "Dinosaur Train" is.

Are you trying to raise a screen-free toddler? What are your strategies?


Image via Scott & Elaine van der Chijs/Flickr

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