Here’s a secret: Almost all parents let their kids watch videos when they absolutely, positively have to get something done. That’s OK. So long as your preschooler has plenty of active and imaginative playtime in addition to lots of time with a loving caregiver, she should be just fine.
Here are some easy ways to manage the time your preschooler spends watching TV or videos and to improve the quality of his or her viewing experience:
Choose mindfully. Preschool TV shows that offer real substance are out there — you just have to find them. If you can, record the shows or add individual videos to a playlist so when an episode is over, your preschooler knows TV time is done.
Use the shows as a jumping-off point for related activities. Say there’s a segment on Sesame Street about butterflies. Spend some time drawing butterflies or making them out of Play-Doh. When you can, visit a nature preserve, get some books or rent movies that delve deeper into the topic.
Split it up. Instead of two shows in the morning, make a deal with your child. One show before school and one show after (so you can make dinner!). Try these extra-gentle shows, some of which have short episodes that lend themselves to morning viewing.
Consider mixing things up. Many of the new apps available for smartphones and tablets provide a kind of hybrid experience of watching and interacting. Your preschooler is old enough to do a bit of self-directed learning for short periods.
Set some boundaries. Teach your preschooler to ask before turning on the TV or tablet and, if you can, how to turn them off after the show ends. Agree on a time or show limit.
Use it as a reward. TV time only happens once your child is dressed and ready for school.
Manage content. Consider subscribing to a specific channel your kid likes on YouTube or adding shows to a playlist. That way, your child will watch only the shows on his or her cue rather than clicking around on YouTube.