My son is 3.5 and has been addicted to YouTube for the past 1.5 years.
My mother-in-law bought him a tablet against my wishes for his 2nd birthday. I never wanted him to have one, but soon after, both my wife and I became used to the convenience of just letting him watch while we got things done around the house or if we went to the store. He was quiet and would giggle at the videos. It was cute back then.
However, he eventually started to wake up each day, and the first words out his mouth were “Tablet, please?” and he would go to bed each night asking the same thing while he would fall asleep. I noticed his behavior got worse and worse during this time, and he would become very irritated at my wife and me if we wanted to do anything except let him watch YouTube. Instead of simply asking, he was demanding us to give it to him.
Now, I really began to hate him watching when I noticed that many of these supposed kid/family-focused channels are really just platforms for advertisers and contain very questionable content. The unregulated nature is really my issue with it all. I am perfectly fine with him watching TV/streaming because I know the content on there at least has some semblance of a story, life lessons, or educational value and, plus, he doesn’t know how the remote works yet, so I have much more control over what he watches.
The straw that broke the camel’s back for me, however, was about 2 months ago my wife woke up for work at 3:30 AM (she works 1st shift at a hospital) and found our son in the kitchen hiding under the table eating a big bag of marshmallows and watching YouTube. His saving grace that night was that I didn’t find him. I honestly don’t know what I would’ve done if I did because I’m sure I would’ve just have seen red. I really started to limit tablet time to a minimum every day to ween him off at this point.
Fast forward to this whole current quarantine situation. About a week goes by of me working from home and him screaming for the tablet every day. I finally said enough is enough and took it away cold turkey. Of course, the first couple of days were really rough, but I quickly noticed him playing with his toys a lot more, running around in our backyard, wanting to play pretend, and just be an imaginative young kid. It’s like a switch was flipped, and I couldn’t be happier for the both of us! I have no plans of bringing it back out ever again, and I’ll be happy to let it collect dust until the end of time at this point.
Now I know how tough it is to limit screen time, but seeing what I see now with him, I really wish I got rid of it sooner. I can’t recommend it enough to just go cold turkey. It’s gonna be really hard at first, and you’ll want to give in a lot, but you gotta stay strong and power through. Believe me, it’s worth it.