Hi, my name is Michelle, and I am guilty of using the hypnotic powers of YouTube Kids to save my sanity.
Ok, great, we got that one out of the way.
Now, before you crucify me for rotting my children’s brains with screen time usage or using the iPad as a babysitter, allow me to set the stage.
I’d dare to say our situation is similar to many a weary parent’s. We have two children and we have two iPads. In all seriousness, iPad No. 1 is a first generation iPad and cannot even download the likes of apps such as Facebook. It truly is a miracle that it can even connect to the internet at this point. iPad No. 2 was purchased this past Christmas, mostly due to the ineptness of iPad No. 1 coupled with the reality that our 7-year-old can do his internet-based homework on an iPad as well as access his school reading program. His school also uses iPads for benchmark testing.
Bottom line: iPads aren’t going anywhere and are VERY much a part of our children’s lives whether we want them to be or not.
But I digress.
We have always monitored and harnessed control over our children’s screen time as a whole. We *try* to keep the cartoons to the PBS variety (Except Caillou. Nobody needs Caillou) or Y7 on Nick. They, at most, watch one show on a weekday and occasionally a PG movie on a quiet weekend. iPad use has always been confined to in the morning on the weekdays while they eat breakfast allowing my husband and I to get ready for work in peace, and on the weekends when, truth be told, we just want the few extra minutes in bed. iPad usage also has been allowed after school because it’s pretty well known that kids need some reset time after school, and this has always been their go to.
We’ve always utilized the timer on YouTube Kids and have always kept the parental controls extremely high. For the most part, our son would mindlessly binge on Minecraft videos and our daughter would watch the woman-child whose face you never see who has the high-pitched voice and opens up surprises. You know you know the one I’m talking about!
Everything changed a few weeks ago when the internet was ablaze with posts about the MoMo Challenge and a pediatrician finding videos telling children how to slit their wrists. Fake news? Maybe?
Unsolicited or irrational fear? Not necessarily.
Those new items served as a wake-up call to the fact that even though we put all the limits and controls over our kids’ screen time, we never actually sit down and watch every minute with them to ensure that something inappropriate or violent isn’t popping up while they’re watching. It also reminded me of the simple fact that you truly have no control over what is put out there on the internet.
Without question, I took all of our devices, phones included, and deleted the apps.
Want to know what happened the next morning when I informed my children about the changes to the iPads?? NOTHING! They actually didn’t care as much as I thought they would!
All they wanted was their coveted time to play on the iPad! Remember, before the days of viral YouTube posts, they actually made games for such devices, many of which can be very educational. And that’s what we’ve gone back to.
In the days that have followed since I put an end to YouTube Kids, I’ve made several positive observations in my children.
First, they still want their screen time, and we allow it, but they only have access to a handful of games. Because they can only play games and not go on a 3 hour binge watching some other kid play the same video game that they physically own themselves, they actually get bored on the iPads. I haven’t had to actually tell them to get off of them.
Miracles still happen my friends!
Second, because the appeal of the iPad has exponentially decreased, they’ve been, gasp, forced to get their toys out and PLAY, and they’ve actually played more together!! We’re just tossing out the parenting miracles right and left over here y’all!
Don’t get me wrong. They still fight.
They still whine.
They still drive me crazy a good deal of the week and I’ve had at least one, maybe two days, where I’ve wanted to re-install the app, again, for my sanity. But as a whole, I’m going to chalk this decision up to a win for all of us!
Have you ever gone to such an “extreme” measure for your kid’s internet safety?
Are your kids also recovering YouTube Kids junkies?