Gone are the days when cartoons were limited.

Our 3 years old watch tv for cartoons but when I come home in the evening after dinner I like to catch up on news or while eating diner. Basically, he starts crying and shouting that "I want to watch" and it becomes so much crying that his mom give him a cartoon on mobile. I am against mobile and I developed vision issue (not naturally but due to excessive screen time as a developer).

So it is mobile-tv-mobile. I do play colouring books and bed time stories and what I can with him but I cannot think of anything to make him busy in or play with him (ideas from dad would be welcome). So when he cries I feel bad because I have heard his mom say that you do not spend time with him, that is why I give him mobile whereas I do but sometimes guilt really pull me down.

Even when he is not watching tv or playing with his toys and I change the channel. He starts crying and again mom gives him a mobile which again makes me feel guilty and selfish.

What activities or things I can do, so our son is not on mobile every time he cries and he learns in life to stay away from screen time as it is not always good.

EDIT : I had a lot of job losses and study as much as I can but I struggle and fear of losing job and not have to feed my family is stomach twisting, I have attention span problem, so if there is 5 hours study, I can take 10 hours, sometimes that means not giving my family time.

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    Hi! How much screen time does he have overall in a typical day?
    – Joe
    Commented Feb 24, 2019 at 19:49
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    "Gone are the days when cartoons were limited." The limits are for you, as a parent, to set. Commented Feb 25, 2019 at 7:47
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    Yesterday I was very happy as my youngest grand child (2y) came to me climbing up my knees even she was sick. I said to her mother: Can you see, she loves me too! Then I realized that she only wanted to look what there is on my Ipad! :( But this was only Stack Exchange ... We should throw that damned TV and Ipad out of the window, that's all :) Commented Feb 25, 2019 at 16:40
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    exactly: when I try to call her to come to me, she doesn't look at me at all and is shy or she used to run to her mom. But when I ignore her she comes and wants to stroke my knees. Commented Feb 25, 2019 at 16:45
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    @AlbrechtHügli It's very easy for children to quickly become chronically addicted to screen devices. I sometimes hear new parents talking excitedly about how interested their toddler is in the iPad, almost like they think this is some kind of key developmental milestone. It's really not. It's trivial for a child to learn how to use an iPad, but far harder for them to learn to put it down. Commented Feb 26, 2019 at 3:41

6 Answers 6


As far as I understand your are struggling with several things at the same time. If I read you correctly...

  • After a long day at work you want to disconnect for some time
  • You are concerned that your kid is watching to much TV
  • You want to catch up with what happened in the world during the day
  • You also feel bad as you don't spend too much time with your kid

You are his dad, you are his superhero. Like a great superhero, lead by the example, turn off the TV and play with your son. you can turn on a radio and hear the news while playing with him.

Play the games he likes, you can get some clues from the Videos he watches. You can also introduce him to what you like, he may like it too. Bricks and Cars are normally great. You can build something with him (or you build it and he can destroy it).

By the way, I'm also a superhero with a 2y sidekick :)

  • A very well thought out and cute answer!
    – Eric F
    Commented Mar 1, 2019 at 17:05

You're trying to convince your child that TV is not good, while you sit and watch TV yourself.

That's not going to work.

You need to practice what you preach. If you want him to watch less TV, then you need to do the same.

Instead of feeling guilty and giving him the mobile, you could try just turning off the tv and spending quality time with him, playing games (not on your phone), or reading books to him (again, not on your phone).

I can certainly understand a parent wanting his/her own time to simply sit in front of the TV and relax. However this should be after your child goes to bed, not while he's crying for your attention.

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    I don’t give mobile. His mother give mobile. So even when he wakes up early he wants mobile coz otherwise he keep disturbing his mom from sleep.
    – localhost
    Commented Feb 25, 2019 at 8:34
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    Sometimes you just have to use what works, but I think you should avoid watching TV while your child is awake and wanting your attention. The mobile should also be used very sparingly for a distraction. Screens in general are problematic for children, for various reasons, and should be avoided as much as possible. Commented Feb 25, 2019 at 8:46
  • I watch like 1-hour max of tv but I am on a laptop almost the whole day. I do agree that they pick up quickly. I am on laptop coz I study and I am very distracted person so a hour task 5 hour.
    – localhost
    Commented Feb 25, 2019 at 14:55
  • @Nofel Don't get me wrong, I don't think you need to try to give-up TV altogether. Just try to time your TV watching for when your son is asleep. He will understandably get very distressed if he can see you doing something he's not allowed to do. The other factor is that TV shows intended for adults are rarely suitable for very young children. Things that may seem quite mundane for an adult could cause a great deal of distress to a young child. At that age they cannot properly distinguish between fantasy and reality. Commented Feb 26, 2019 at 3:29
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    One exception my wife and I make is that we'll sometimes let our children sit up with us to watch the tennis, when the local grand-slam tournaments are on. We know with tennis it's very unlikely there will be any bad language, and certainly no violence. Commented Feb 26, 2019 at 3:31

You are not the first (set of) parent(s) to use too much screen time to entertain a child, and you won't be the last. The problem is that it works, and for tired or stressed parents, it's like a "pause" button: it stops the child from demanding something. However, that much screen time is not good for the child, a fact I think you're aware of.

To get a handle on this, both parents have to have the same goal: to reduce screen time for the child. If one parent constantly gives in, there might be nothing short of doing activities outside the home that will get your child interested in real play and real life.

I don't know how you can get your wife on board. You can try seeing the child's pediatrician together and discuss appropriate screen time and the harmful effects of too much (you'll have to state the reason for the visit so that the pediatrician isn't taken by surprise. It helps.) The pediatrician can give you some information on weaning your child off screen time (cold turkey or less abruptly?)

Or you can take free parenting classes in person or online (start by Googling "free parenting classes" and you'll find your best options.)

You might do some research on your own about how much screen time is appropriate for which ages. If you gather enough evidence, maybe you can convince your wife.

However you approach it, try to get your wife on board. If you can't, your job will be harder.

One thing you might both agree on immediately is that there is no screen on during meals together, and that meals should be taken together (there is lots of evidence that this is beneficial to the child/family.) Yes, your child will cry initially, but if you stick to this consistently, the child will learn that crying/begging won't get him screen time, and that mealtimes are for eating and visiting with one another.

Good luck, this is not going to be very easy, but it's so worth it in the long run.


Use a PVR to record the news, then watch it after your kid is asleep. Added bonus: you get to fast-forward the commercials.

Now that you’re not watching TV, there are many things you can do with your child. Anything from colouring, to building, to some simple board games, to story telling, to arithmetic, ... really, the sky’s the limit. Or you could get out a telescope and look at the stars, so not even the sky is the limit.

It’s exhausting, I know. But if you want to stop the crying, the most effective way is to interact with them.

  • I was about to say something very similar, "watch TV after the kid is in bed".
    – elbrant
    Commented Feb 27, 2019 at 3:32

It's time to wean from the screen.

You're also in the middle of a power-play between your toddler, your wife, and you.

The first thing you need to do is support each other. Neither you, nor your wife should contradict the other in front of the toddler or the toddler will just quickly learn to pitch a fit until one of you gives in.

You need to present a united front, and then do your studying uninterrupted. To compensate for that, you need to set apart special time with your family that is also uninterrupted.

You need to set strict screen time boundaries for your child, then have things for him to do while he's not doing screen time. coloring, learning tools, games, whatever.

Schedule frequent breaks in your studies so your child still feels your presence.

Ration out your time, make a schedule, stick to it, and you and your wife need to present a united front.


I am a parent also. And I have lived through the too much TV and Too much screen time.

First off, sorry if what I am going to write sounds difficult. I certainly did not like the feeling when someone told me. But later on, I am glad they did. So here goes.

  1. You have to practice what you preach. Children are total magnets at picking up our behaviors even before they can speak. Many make the mistake that children are to small to understand. That is a big mistake. Even if they are small, they will copy us. Good or bad.

  2. From experience, co-parent with your wife. Your wife is giving you a clue, about your behavior, and how it can effect and affect your child. Take note of that, for a happy home.

  3. Please sit down for this one. Learn to acknowledge and then let go of the guilt. I never suffered from guilt, not when I got married. We were married for 7 years before our healthy son was born. Then it hit me guilt. Like a pound of bricks on my back. I felt guilty that my son didn't want to eat healthy veggies, guilty that he didn't sleep well, guilty that he didn't play enough. All before two years old. I was exhausted all the time! And it sounds like you will be too. Let the guilt go, go far away from you and far away from your family.

  4. Your child will always remember the time you spent with them, not the money you spent on them. This one is very, very, very, hard to take. I am not saying to be irresponsible. I am saying the the best gift you can give your child is for example a Sunday afternoon in the backyard, playing together in the blow up kiddie pool together. Then 3 days in the five star hotel pool; while you are stuck to your cell phone and laptop, and arguing with your wife. Think like a child.

My husband and I decided that when our son was born, we were going to make sacrifices so our son could have a secure and nurturing family life. We decided to live overseas with our son. We sold our automobiles, and road the bus. We made other financial restrictions, so we would not have to worry about money. We opted for a simple lifestyle while our son was under twelve years old. Now our son is almost fifteen. He loves booth his parents very much. He knows we would stop what we are doing to help him. Our son is busy with his own friends now. Our son leaves early in the morning and later to come back home. We have started a new business and moving along.

My final point is that the average person lives to be 75 years old. If you dedicate 10 serious years to spending time and rearing your child, you will have made a great achievement in your life time! And you will still have more than 45 years of your own adult life to have a career or run a business or buy your dream car.

Hope this helps,

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