Thanks so much to Minno for sponsoring this post!
When my girls were small, they woke up at an ungodly hour of the morning every day.
Keith was working long hours as a medical resident and our apartment was tiny. So the girls watched Babe each morning (aka, “Pig and Duck”) so at least one of us could get some sleep. Figuring out the screen time rules that work best for your family is a really big task, so when Minno asked me about a sponsored post, I asked Joanna to write it up for me, since she’s a young mom who is figuring all of this out and she has a background in public health. Here’s what she’s got to share.
While we all know that screen time is best when limited (and that our kids are probably spending too much time in front of a screen), screens are also wonderful allies.
In the great Canadian winter, when we’ve already read all the books and played all the games, it is really nice to snuggle with my toddler and watch a show together. Here are five principles to keep in mind when it comes to screens, as you determine the rules that will work best for your family:
1. Screen time is awesome for connecting with family far away
We live far away from all of our family. So did my grandmother, when she was raising her 9 kids. But back then, Nanny couldn’t FaceTime her mom, instead they had a tradition where they both would drink their cup of coffee at 10 am, knowing the other was doing the same a thousand miles away.
Today, my toddler enjoys “joining” her grandfather as he sets up his bird feeder and throws frisbee with the dog. She knows that her grandmother has a stack of books she’ll be happy to read over FaceTime, and even requests favorites. It’s not the same as living down the street, but it is so much better than it used to be. We are so grateful for the gift that screen time has been to our family!
2. Kids need to play apart from screen time
The WHO (World Health Organization) recommends limiting screen time for children ages 2-4 to an hour a day (that doesn’t necessarily include social screen time like talking to family). They also note that less is more and that it’s really important to make sure children have lots of high quality, unstructured play time.
Screen time becomes a problem when it is used to avoid the natural parts of childhood or parenting. When siblings are bickering it’s easier to turn on the TV than it is to listen to them fight as they work it out, or jump in the mix and have a conversation about sharing. If your 5 year old is bored and whining at you about it, it’s easy to give them an iPad instead of making them figure out how to entertain themselves. So while screen time in and of itself is not bad, it can become a problem if it becomes an avoidance tool for the normal (and admittedly annoying) quirks and struggles of childhood.
I asked Keith for his advice about screen time, given that he’s a pediatrician, and he recommends putting together a screen time plan for your family. Here’s his advice:
Parents need to take an active role in managing their children’s use of screen time. So many resources are available to help with this through the Canadian Pediatric Society, the American Academy of Pediatrics, and other national bodies. You’ll never regret setting up a media plan for your family!
3. You CAN be choosy about what your child watches!
It’s easy to look at kid’s TV today and think, “MAN, this is bad.” But you know what? There have been good and bad programs for as long as TV has been around! It’s your job, as a parent, to choose good for your kids!
Since screens are such an omni-present part of our lives now, some really great options have popped up lately. And one of those options that we really like is Minno. Minno is a safe streaming service for kids that has really great Christian programs that actually teach your kid about God. There are classic Veggie Tales episodes on there, and also our favourite program, What’s in the Bible?, created by the same guy who made the original Veggie Tales show.
Often when we talk about programs for kids, we ask “Does this have any dangerous or inappropriate content?” We don’t often ask ourselves, “Is this content helping my child become a better person?”
The What’s in the Bible series is truly fantastic. It actually teaches you so much about scripture–despite the fact that I memorized about half of the New Testament before I graduated from high school, I was stunned at how much I was learning from a show hosted by a puppet named Buck Denver.
I have also used the What’s in the Bible curriculum while teaching Sunday School and loved it. It was incredible to me how easily complex concepts were explained. I’m embarrassed to say that after hearing Phil describe faith in the episode on the Pauline epistles, I understood the relationship between faith and trust for the first time… ever.
I was delighted when my own daughter was old enough to start watching What’s in The Bible with me. She just turned two so to be honest, she’s still in it for the songs. A current favorite of hers is the “judges” song, which is a silly spin through the 12 judges of the eponymous book. Now, of course, she’s memorized more or less the whole thing and hearing my toddler sing about Deborah, Sampson, and the rest makes my heart happy.
That’s what we should expect of good kids’ programming. And that’s just one of the series on Minno–there’s tons more content that isn’t just “not bad,” but is actively good.
4. Your kid needs to be safe when watching movies or shows
Let’s put it out there: even “kid-friendly” apps like YouTube Kids are often not safe. It has been widely documented the pornographic, violent, or otherwise disturbing content that slips past filters every single day that millions upon millions of kids are watching.
Similarly, letting your kids simply watch something on a streaming service that also has adult content on it may lead to them watching something you really would rather they didn’t see.
And also, even when you do find something that is safe or kid-friendly, often there are a ton of advertisements that ruin the experience or mean tons of conversations about why no, you don’t need the Lego set in the commercial.
Choosing an option for screentime that is ad-free and allows you to rest easy knowing that no matter what your kid clicks on, they will find good and wholesome content can be a huge stress-relief for parents and a huge protection for kids. You can feel safe letting your kids choose any show they want to watch on Minno, which is one of the reasons we love it! You won’t have to worry about what might pop up next and there are NO commercials.
5. Make screen-time a public activity
Screen times recommendations vary, but a very important and consistent point is that parents watching WITH their children is very important. Screens often become a very isolating activity–you become all-encompassed in what you are doing and you become separate from the rest of the family. By having screen time solely in public spaces by using TVs instead of cell phones when you are at home, for example, you can keep tabs on what your kids are watching–even if you’re in the next room making dinner. (And by the way, Minno works with Roku, Chrome cast, and AppleTV, too!)
By watching shows together, you can have conversations about what you are watching. And that’s a lot less painful for the parent when the shows your kids are watching aren’t ridiculously annoying.
So that’s why we think Minno is really a great option for families who are looking to optimize their screen time and cut out the junk. The programs are high-quality and genuinely good, so mom and dad can be involved with TV watching without wanting to smash the TV. They’re a wonderful streaming platform with TONS of great programs for kids. All of the What’s in the Bible programs are there (including the spin offs), ready and waiting for your kiddos. They also have over 30 classic VeggieTales episodes, and if that’s not enough, you can check out Davey and Goliath, Bible Man, Theo, Owlgories, Torchlighters, and lots and lots more.
Minno is totally ad free and all of the programs are safe for little eyes and ears. And something really cool about it is that it isn’t just for the kids–as we move through lent and prepare for Easter, one great option with Minno is their 5 week family devotional series using What’s in the Bible to teach children about Jesus’ death and resurrection. Their curriculum is always high quality, well thought through, and willing to deal with the tricky questions of faith.
And it doesn’t break the bank, either. Especially since if you’d like to give it a try, Minno is offering To Love, Honor, and Vacuum readers a 7 day trial of their platform.
Get a 7-day free trial to check out Minno!
Minno is offering To Love, Honor, and Vacuum readers a 7-day long trial so you can check out the programs and see what you think. We’re positive you’re going to love it!
What are some of your ways of managing healthy screen time with your kids? What are some tips and tricks that have worked for you? Let us know in the comments below!