Thank you for writing this! I have an almost-4-year-old, and so far we’ve been lucky enough to parent her ourselves and so screen time has been VERY limited. The most addictive thing she’s seen so far has been when we’re learning about something together on YouTube, and then at the end all the other little video icons pops up and she wants to watch every one. I can see how she could waste days just doing that if she had free reign.

So for now, we start with a number of short videos we’re going to watch (“We’ll watch 4 little videos about pandas, and then we’ll put it away and do something else”), we remind her when it’s the last one, and then we put it away. We also talk about “jellybrain” and how we don’t want to look at screens too much because it gives us jellybrain, and because there are so many other things we want to do.

So far, it’s going well, but this article is a reminder that conscious parenting isn’t enough (and obviously not everyone is as privileged as we are to be able to be there every day limiting screen time). Even if she has an awareness of jellybrain, and even if she copies my idea to limit it to 4 short videos (and these are big ifs), how do we possibly contend with the time and money being put into addicting us all anyway?

I feel the addictive pulls on myself, so I know how strong they are.

Thank you so much for writing this. It’s helpful to read about this issue with actual facts about where the money’s going, rather than just to say, “I don’t know; it just FEELS really addictive!”

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Empathy for the win! Published in Gen, Human Parts, Heated, Tenderly —Feminism, Sexuality, Veganism, Anti-Racism, Parenting. She/They darcyreeder.substack.com

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