No one tells you that becoming a parent means keeping a lot of dirty little secrets.
Like that time you wiped your kid’s booger on the underside of a park bench when you were out of tissues. Or that sometimes (ok, at least once a month) an entire weekend goes by without them brushing their hair.
Well, here’s another one that parents don’t like to cop to: Their kids watch a lot of digital content.
According to research presented this year at the Pediatric Academic Societies Meeting, 20% of the children in the study used a handheld device for an average of 28 minutes a day by their 18-month check-up, as reported by their parents.
While my kids stayed away from screens until age two, they’re now no exception.
It started when I downloaded a cute puzzle app for a road trip (here’s one of our faves), but it didn’t take many weeks before the kids were opening up the YouTube Kids app and wandering for themselves.
By the time they turned three, my kids had learned how to unlock our iPad and find the content they wanted without needing to ask.
Now my twins are nearly four years old, and the iPad is a key part of our routine. They turn it on around 6:15 every morning.
Usually, I hear a friendly chirp of tiny cartoon voices talking about how many sides a square has, or the power of teamwork when fighting crime while wearing pajamas. I tune it out until suddenly I realize I’m hearing a different kind of sound: crinkling cellophane as some faceless adult with a camera pointing at her own hands opens and plays with toys.
That’s right. Unboxing videos exist for toys.
But these aren’t Christmas-morning home videos of children’s faces filled with wonder. These are manicured nails and a soft falsetto voice narrating the contents of a specialty Play-Doh set.
Or pouring beads out of a water glass to discover a surprise toy figure buried inside.
And this baby doll one that is too horrible to describe. (For an in-depth look at how…