COVID19 Weekend

Day 28: Screen Time

April 12, 2020

Here is a daily summary of our family’s screen time, as it stands now, during the COVID-19 lockdown.

ANNABEL & CAMERON: ~3 hrs of tablet/Minecraft time while G takes a nap (it begins at 1p and ends by 4p). ~1-2 hours of movie at night. Sometimes Minecraft at night instead if Josh wants to do it with them.

Annabel also has Facebook Messenger for kids and talks to several of her classmates often while playing Minecraft. During device time, she has access to both a Lenovo tablet AND a mostly working old iPhone only connected to WiFi (but really, what else do you need when you’re only at home!?).

(This does not include time spent in front of screens doing schoolwork, so yep – there’s even more during the work week.)

GENEVIEVE: 2014-SHU would probably be horrified, but G watches 2-3 hours/day. Usually 1-2 shows in the morning, maybe 1 as I’m prepping dinner, and she will sit down and watch a movie with the big kids at night (and it doesn’t matter what it is; she’ll either watch it OR bring a toy near the TV and play with it so she feels like part of the group if she’s not into it).

JOSH: Well, I don’t really keep tabs on his screen use per se, but he often plays Minecraft WITH our kids if he is home while they are doing it. Plus maybe a show or movie at night with me. I do see him reading headlines on his computer but he is admirably resistant to the lure of his phone as distraction device.

ME: Looking at my data from last week, I have logged 116 – 303 minutes/day on my iPhone’s screen time app (when the totals are high note that this total does include telemedicine calls). That doesn’t include time spent on this laptop. When it comes to “leisure” categories, last week I spent an average of 36 min/day on Instagram, 35 min/day on Safari, 39 min/day on text messages, and 14 min/day on Feedly. That adds up to ~2 hours which I find kind of disgusting.

The problem I am having is that there just isn’t that much OTHER stimulation that is so readily available right now. I know Laura has written about this before, but it’s especially difficult to become engaged in meaningful activities when one is performing intermittent childcare duties. The kids no longer require my presence hovering over them every second (G is a GOOD toddler in that respect, although sometimes letting her be independent leads to messes!). BUT, they do need something from me quite often.

I think a certain amount of this “extra” screen time is therapeutic right now. There’s so much uncertainty that it’s comforting to “see” what others are doing (though remember: what you see on social media is only a smallllllll and highly curated slice). It’s also just fun (and happily distracting) to look at total eye candy (for me: my @shubox_plans feed, which follows 80% planning and organizing accounts).

I don’t know. I’m not terribly worried about the increased screen time for the kids. I’m also not going off the deep end about my own “wasted” time either, but 2 hours/day seems like a lot. I will continue to track and see if I can redirect myself a few times today. If nothing else, my new organization obsession may suck up some of those minutes . . .

habits-tracking log, ~1/3 of the way complete for April


  • Last “A Little Obsessed” Workout – Legs (next week –> 21 Day Fix Extreme)
  • Neighborhood walk / scooter / chalk / etc
  • Sneak in a podcast ad recording during G’s nap
  • CLEAN BATHROOMS, ugh, but needs to happen (yep, we usually outsource this but not right now! We sent 6 weeks’ worth of $$$ by mail and are hoping that by the summer it might be safe for her to come back.)
  • Dinner: easy lo mein, recipe submitted by reader Shelly on Friday’s post!

Josh says life right now feels like the movie Groundhog Day. He’s not wrong. Maybe if he is seeking more variety I can get HIM to do the bathrooms . . . .

Will G’s generation grow up with a fine appreciation for the little things? One can hope . . .


  • Reply Katie Forrest April 12, 2020 at 7:32 am

    I really appreciate the honesty around screen time, and think increased screen time is pretty natural right now. For a start, it’s the main way we’re connecting with the outside world when we can’t visit with people!

    I spent the first week of COVID19 reading way too much news on my phone, and that. was making me pretty anxious so I stopped that and went back to living in a bubble (clearly not an option for you as a medic!). My opinion is that *if* the screen time is helping pass the days in a positive way (not increasing anxiety) then the total isn’t a big deal right now.

  • Reply Diane C. April 12, 2020 at 11:43 am

    Thanks for sharing this! I was feeling really conflicted about the amount of screen time our 2nd grader was getting lately (also feeling conflicted about my own over-use of screen time, but that feels more within my control). We’ve gone from one movie (and maybe a basketball game) a week to 4-5 hours a day (2 hours school, 2 hrs of streaming a show, 1 hour of zoom with friends, and random facetime with family). I was feeling that I should be able to engage her more, especially since I’ve been unemployed due to restrictions put in place. But then I realized that she actually spends a lot of time on screens at school since most of their learning is done via Chromebooks, and it kind of helped put things into perspective too.
    I have, however, taught her to clean the bathrooms, and I highly recommend it! I told her I was going to teach her some life skills for when she goes to college and she really embraced it – for some reason it doesn’t gross her out the way it grosses me out. (The cleaning bucket is now called the Life Skills Bucket). It doesn’t get as clean as when the cleaning lady did it, but it’s clean enough, and I don’t have to do it. (We also have gotten the 3 year old to vacuum and dust, but the results are definitely sub-par).

    • Reply Jessica April 13, 2020 at 4:36 am

      Oh yes, my daughter is five and she also has four hours of screen time these days, but these times will pass and things will change eventually. So I don‘t make a huge deal about it though I really dislike it.

  • Reply Irene April 12, 2020 at 2:02 pm

    I also really appreciate your honesty. My 2 year old is watching at least an hour a day and my 5 year old is all over the place but up to 4 hours on one rough day. If she didn’t completely bounce off the walls and start running sprints in the house after 1-2 hours of screens I’d be tempted to allow more. She told me the other day that “missing her friends” is a feeling that gets worse instead of better when she thinks about it or talks about it so she’s try not to think about it. That was a real eye opener for me to how much emotional energy she’s expending right now and made me feel like the extra screen time gives her a a break from that a couple times a day. I know I’m enjoying turning off my brain for a show or good book much more than usual right now.

  • Reply Omdg April 12, 2020 at 2:36 pm

    We stopped keeping track ages ago. I just don’t think it’s that important as long as she’s getting her school work done.

  • Reply Mini Gems for Kids April 12, 2020 at 3:58 pm

    When my kids were the ages of your kids, I assessed my Instagram/Facebook/Blog reading time and found that I felt very happy and justified with it. My free moments were so fragmented, and I wanted a pleasurable, mindless escape and that’s what it provided me. If it was making me unhappy, I would have felt differently, but I followed people I liked, and I enjoyed it. My kids are now 10, 8, and 5 (and it is amazing, by the way). They are more independent and my brain feels like it can handle more, but I still have to be available to frequent questions and interruptions in this new homeschooling routine. I have added Duolingo, short story reading, and continuing education webinars to my list of things that feel rewarding to do in short bursts. I have enough brain-space now that it feels good to do something productive and good for me mixed in there (but I still really enjoy my time on Instagram—and I don’t feel guilty about that). I find I can’t do much writing when I’m helping 3 kids with homeschooling questions because that requires too much flow and I get irrationally angry at being interrupted mid-thought. I had to be intentional about finding a few things that had short bursts of flow.

  • Reply Lisa of Lisa’s Yarns April 12, 2020 at 6:34 pm

    Thanks for being honest about this. Our 2yo gets so much screen time during the week. Probably 4+ hours a day when it’s all added up. But he’s home with us and the only way I can get work done on the morning and post-nap is to put little baby bum on. He loves that show and will sit and watch and let us work. We try to not have the tv on over the weekend to make up for it. But right now we are all just doing our best and doing what we can to get by!!!

    • Reply Amanda April 13, 2020 at 1:19 pm

      Little Baby Bum is SAVING us right now with my 11 month old. Mom-to-be me from a year ago would be horrified by that (and a lot of other things that have happened since actual parenting = anticipated parenting). Am I thrilled that we’re using the TV to entertain our baby? No. Am I thrilled there is a global pandemic upending everyone’s lives for the foreseeable future? Also no. You’re absolutely right, we’re all just doing the best we can.

      • Reply Amanda April 13, 2020 at 1:20 pm

        ETA actual parenting ≠ anticipated parenting

  • Reply Jordan April 12, 2020 at 11:20 pm

    I relate to this so much. I have two kids, 3.5 and 1.5. I was so strict with baby #1 and didn’t allow any screens before age 2, and then mainly stuck to Daniel Tiger. Now I’m soooo thankful that baby #2 will actually sit and watch a show for 30 minutes. It’s vital to our survival these days and I’m so much more relaxed about it now.

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