Last week, at one of M's after school activities where I have to wait in a separate room with Val for 30 minutes, I had an interesting encounter with an older woman. She was sitting with her granddaughter on her lap, M sitting next to her as I was getting her ready for her class, and Val was standing next to me, who was kneeling on the floor. Val was screaming "ah-pah! ah-pah!" and pointing to my diaper bag. The woman says "that's a shoe!" to Valerie and points to M's shoe at the top of the bag.
"She is actually saying iPad," I say kindly to the woman.
"The baby is saying iPad?" the woman says to me.
"Yes, she is saying iPad. She likes to use it."
"Are you serious? At that age? You let her use the iPad?" she said, with a hint of judgement in her voice.
"Yeah, I let them both use it. I am totally fine with it."
"Oh I hear they have lots of educational things for young kids to do on there nowadays," she continued.
"No, she just wants to watch a movie on there. She has no interest in applications yet."
"You let her watch movies on the iPad? When my kids were that age I let them watch 30 minutes of Mr. Rogers once a day."
"Yes I let her watch movies on there. I also let her play with knives, and leave her alone in the bath tub, and give her alcohol to drink, and let her 4 year old sister babysit her while her father and I go out on dates."
Ok, so I didn't say the last part, but I did explain to her that I had no problem with my 17 month old watching a 20 minute movie (Gruffalo or Room on the Broom - she is obsessed!) while her sister is in class. I then went on to tell her that I recently caught a couple minutes of an old Mr. Rogers episode and couldn't believe that it kept my attention when I was younger as it was so boring. You would have thought I killed her cat. She then launched into this whole speech about how kind and sweet and wonderful that show is, and how it taught her kids so much - all of that I agree with. But Damn lady! Compared to what the kids are watching now, Mr. Rogers is like watching paint dry!
I have some friends that didn't let their kids in front of a screen until they were 2. I have other friends that have the television on all day long in their house, or have their kids in front of a screen most of their free time. We are somewhat in the middle of that spectrum.
When you have two children, and the older one loves to watch her programs, it is impossible to not have the younger child exposed to television! Val had no interest in anything on a screen for the entire first 14 months of her life, but in the last 3 months she can't get enough of certain things. And I have no problem letting her watch 20 minutes here or there. Sometimes Mama or Dada needs a little break to check their email (or Pin the 1000 light fixture to their Pinterest Lighting board!).
Judge me all you want old lady. Times, they have a'changed.