Help! My Toddler is Addicted to the Phone and TV

anxious girl sitting in corner Muslim Parents

It is completely normal for toddlers to be drawn to screens, especially if they have seen their parents or older siblings using them. However, it is important to set boundaries and ensure that screen time is not taking away from other activities, such as playtime and socialization.

That’s not to say that you should completely ban digital devices and screens from your child’s life. There are times when the best thing you can do is to give your children a cartoon to watch or a game to play that will not only occupy their attention for a while, but give you a break too.

Long car rides, being stuck at the airport, or getting a shot are just a few examples of where it can be really helpful to have a gadget on hand to distract your children. Screens can be useful – you just need to be mindful about how you are using them.

Your children are your amanah and you have a responsibility to Allah swt and to your children to protect their fitrah, their innocence for as long as possible. Being careful about what your children are watching is your duty and obligation.

YouTube (including YouTube Kids) can be dangerous because it can quickly send you down a rabbit hole of videos that are not appropriate for young children. Often, even cartoons that seem innocent enough promote anti-Islamic values that can negatively affect our kids.

Content creators are financially motivated to get as many views as possible, and invest a great deal of money on psychologists who help create media that is addictive for young brains.  Cocomelon for example, is designed to give children dopamine hits, similar to how cocaine affects the brain. You’ll already know what happens when you try to take away screens from your child – the meltdown that follows is often enough for you to give it back to them.

Not all media is this dangerous, but it’s up to you to seek out educational screen time that is slower-paced and much safer for young brains.

Parenting PD Way course

Here are a few steps you can take to manage your toddler’s screen time:

1. Set limits 

Determine how much screen time is appropriate for your child’s age and stick to it. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends no more than one hour of screen time per day for children ages 2 to 5.

2. Make screens a privilege

Don’t allow your toddler to use screens as a reward or to pacify them. Instead, reserve screen time as a privilege that can be earned after other activities and responsibilities have been completed.

3. Find alternative activities

Encourage your toddler to engage in other activities, such as playing with toys, reading, or going outside. These activities can be just as engaging and can help your child develop important skills. 

4. Use screens together

Watch shows or use apps together with your toddler. This can provide an opportunity for bonding and allow you to discuss what is being watched or played. 

5. Lead by example

Set a good example by limiting your own screen time and not using screens as a way to pass time or avoid interacting with your child.


It’s also important to remember that toddlers are still learning and developing, and they may need extra guidance and support to manage their screen time. Be patient and consistent, and you can help your toddler develop a healthy relationship with screens.