When I first became a mum, I was determined not to let TV and iPad games disrupt my child's development. Then we had our second child and we quickly realised how difficult it is to limit screen time in this day and age.
Being a mum of two under the age of five is a challenge, especially when I'm trying to get work done at home and need something to occupy them. I’m mostly drawn to just sticking the television on and letting them stay entertained while I get the piles of laundry done. But this year I must have a screenless solution because the older they get, the more they want screens. And it was making the kids restless and even interrupting their sleep.
After reading that screens can hinder young children’s ability to read faces and learn social skills, I made a new year's resolution to cut down on the iPad and playing Cocomelon on the wide-screen TV.
When I heard about the Toniebox, I doubted if it would work for Jake and Isabel. Although it's a musical story box with no screens, I wondered it would really keep them occupied. But when I read that children engage with the Toniebox 148 times more than other toys, I was intrigued.
The Toniebox comes with Tonies — hand-painted collectibles of your kid’s favourite characters — that allow you to listen to songs, stories and bring each character to life. It's designed to entertain children up to 8 years of age and holds 7 hours of battery life for endless creative entertainment.
I bit the bullet and ordered, hoping it could reduce their screen time. But I was still unsure they’d enjoy it. I went with the Collector bundle — Toniebox + 3 Tonies — for £109.99, with a Paddington Bear, Frozen and Paw Patrol Tonie.
When it arrived I was glad to see the Toniebox is soft, squishy and completely kid-proof. It was straightforward to set up, and to my surprise, Jake took to it straight away. It's easy to use — kids simply pop, tap, tilt, and squeeze the ears on the Toniebox to navigate through their preferred stories and songs.
Isabel was fascinated by it too, especially when I popped the Elsa Tonie on top. Jake and Isabel sat for hours listening to the Toniebox. I was thrilled that it completely held their attention. The Toniebox is portable and keeps them hooked on traffic-filled journeys to and from school.
It's been 2 weeks since our Toniebox arrived and I’ve managed to limit their screen time to only an hour a day! No more playing with the iPad in the evenings – only the Toniebox. Isabel even listens to wind down stories as she drifts off to sleep, and Jake has settled into a healthier bedtime routine thanks to reducing his screen time.
I read an article from the National Literacy Trust that said listening to audiobooks is both entertaining and educational. It improves vocabulary and literacy skills in kids under five years old, so I’m happy they’re getting this benefit, too.
The Toniebox itself is about £79.95, and £14.99 for an individual Tonie, or try a bundle deal like I did. They even offer Creative-Tonies which holds 90-minutes of recordable space to save your own favourite memories.
The Toniebox is an ideal solution for cutting down on my kids’ screen time and not to mention it’ll be fantastic for their development. I’d highly recommend it to all parents desperate to reduce screen time this year!