For most families, screen time is unavoidable, but if reducing the amount of television your children watch is on your “in” list for 2024, Jayme Yannuzzi (@teachtalkinspire on Instagram) has a great tip.

The former teacher revealed a “secret weapon” she uses when her family needs a screen time break.  “My secret weapon when we need to cut down on screen time is to play podcasts from my TV,” she divulged in an Instagram post. “I play our favorites like Pinkalicious, Arthur, or Molly of Denali on the PBS Kids app and pair it with a calm activity to help us reset. Such an easy way to get started listening to kids podcasts and cutting down on screen time.”

Yannuzzi shared more about her podcast trick in the post’s caption, writing: ”Not only are they enjoyable to listen to, cultivate listening skills and help with reading comprehension but they also are a wonderful alternative to screen time. Screen time I will always say when used as a tool for you is nothing to feel guilty about! But I also know, a reset is sometimes necessary and this is one of our favorite ways to do it. Simply download the @pbskids app and listen like you would any other TV episode.”

Like Yannuzzi mentioned in the caption, screen time is sometimes necessary and isn’t something that should make you feel guilty (there are some great educational children’s programs out there). 

We’ve all heard the horrors of what too much screen time can do to developing brains and bodies, but a recent study showed that even five hours of screen time per day (that’s watching TV, playing video games, or texting) did not increase the risk of anxiety or depression in 9- and 10-year-old children. In fact, school-aged children that had more access to screens seemed to have more friends and stronger peer relationships.

Of course, the acceptable amount of screen time differs depending on the age of your child, but if you need to plop your 3-year-old in front of the TV for 30 minutes so you can cook dinner without them climbing all over you, do it! Like most things, screen time is something that is great in moderation and should be monitored by a caregiver. And it’s something we need to give ourselves as parents grace in using as a tool. Our mental health depends on it.