Good-bye YouTube Kids – Hello Free Play

It’s been a long time since I’ve written.  After-schooling turned out more to be me killing myself to keep my house at an acceptable level of clean + making dinner + trying to keep the kids clean, and maybe doing homework in there too.  While I am doing chores, the kids entertain themselves or watch TV.  After the upheaval at the end of March, which also marked the end of my posting on Seed to Seedling – as well as homeschooling – TV became more of a thing at our house than ever before.  Actually the YouTube Kids app did.

I’m not sure when I first downloaded the app, maybe at the end of Elizabeth’s pre-k year or the beginning of kindergarten.  I felt a little uneasy with it: it is full of grown adults playing with new kids toys, inappropriate language on Legos videos, Masha who is incredibly rude, and a lot of materialism.  I also noticed that when you search for something, it pulls in anything – anything – off of YouTube, including items that are not appropriate for children.

But my kid loved it and her brother got so he loved it too.  They could navigate within it and the timer made it easy to end viewing.  I did use it as a babysitter.  Things were tough for me, very, very tough.  I was not able to physically nor emotionally pull myself together to parent.  Hell, it’s just been within the past few months that I have started to think about parenting again.   Luckily, the cause of my problems has been mostly removed and I don’t foresee that it will return any time soon.

At times I had felt that the YouTube Kids app brought greater problems with it than ought to be necessary.  When that timer goes off, it’s tough.  A movie coming to a close prepares you for it’s finale, but having the timer just turn off in the middle of your latest video causes tantrums.  Behavioral issues have plagued me too, stuff that I feel is linked to the technology use either directly through learned behaviors from the videos or from watching too much.  As well, the kids tend to want to watch it the minute they get up in the morning or as soon as we get home after school and work.  And then they don’t want to turn it off again.  Because things were tough, I was letting them play on it without the timer and at their request while I was trying to process and heal and catch up and not go under.

But it has crossed my mind a number of times to just delete it to try to eliminate some of the yucky stuff that seemed to come with it.  I wasn’t ready though until about 4 weeks ago.  I decided that trying to limit it myself was not working so now it is gone.  And it has been wonderful!


Wanna build a snowman?

The first weekend I was met with a lot of whining and requests and demands for the app or a substitute, but I decided that the kids could watch their one movie in the morning, and then they needed to find something else to do that didn’t involve technology.  You know what – they did!  Not only did they survive, I thought things were much better at the end of the weekend, more like us again.


A bug we found on the snow today.

Elizabeth played with the Barbies and Legos she got for Christmas.  Paul spent hours with his cars and trucks.  We also went outside and played together.  Another weekend we spent painting and doing art projects both Saturday and Sunday.  Elizabeth has also been much more helpful and last weekend she spent hours helping me clean to prepare for her belated birthday part. Today, both kids got up and just started to play, technology was not even requested because playing together was so entertaining.

With so few hours available for us to be together around work and school, I feel like we need less technology and more free play.  It also allows them to be part of the family and have an interest in keeping the house livable.  Kids are amazingly adept at finding something to do, you just have to let them get that far. Shoving a device in their hands cuts out any creativity they may have had to entertain themselves and underminds their own ability to free play.


Ramp materials.

Point made: here comes Elizabeth with ramp materials for her race car.



Share your thoughts: What has been your experience with the YouTube Kids app?  What has been your experience limiting it or other technologies?



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