WASHINGTON (CNS) — My household has grown by four as a result of pandemic-induced economic turmoil. The reasons behind this are worthy of note, but that will have to be for another time.

The purpose of this column is to give insight into how screen usage is experienced by different demographics within the household, including myself.

With the exception of hosting exchange students in 2001 and 2012, my house has always had a "TV room," although its location changed five years ago. And, with the exception of those exchange students, the TV has always been upstairs. That reduces the likelihood that anybody who comes in dragging after a hard day at work or school simply decompresses in front of the tube as a default setting.

Not now. Even with creative allocation of bedroom space, the TV had to make its way downstairs. There had been one suggestion to put the TV in the master bedroom upstairs, but that got a quick veto. There's more than enough evidence to suggest that watching TV in bed can disrupt sleep patterns. Besides, it might serve as a needed pacifier to the young kids now in the house.

That hasn't turned out to be the case. There's been mild interest in "The Cat in the Hat Knows a Lot About That!" on the PBS Kids channel, but it's hardly become appointment television.

I might have watched a bit more TV myself, but it serves as a reward for the exile of my pandemic workplace from the dining room table to the basement. Upstairs or downstairs, it hasn't stopped me from falling asleep in front of the tube.

Then came Christmas — or, more accurately, the Christmas tree. The TV, once downstairs, had been against the south wall of the living room, next to my reading chair. But the tree moved to where my chair was, and the chair displaced the TV, which got wedged into the northeast corner of the living room between the piano and the stereo cabinet and a speaker.

The living room furniture is arranged for conversation, not TV watching. But I found that if I sat up against the far arm of the sofa, I could see about 90% of the screen. After two days of that, however, I noticed that I was walking in the same posture. It took a couple of days for my lower back to straighten itself out, which meant I had to take a 48-hour sabbatical from watching. My new gambit is sitting against the near arm of the sofa with my left leg tucked under me. So far, so good.

The womenfolk in the house continue to do the majority of their screen time inside their respective bedrooms. While some PBS programming gets a viewing on the television, the vast majority of screen usage is devoted to YouTube, Instagram, TikTok and various streaming services.

What has intrigued me is the 2-and-a-half-year-old boy now in the house, to whom I will refer as "Kid A," after Radiohead's platinum album from 2000 of the same name.

He's got his own tablet. And Kid A just loves anything that has to do with buses. Two of his favorites in what I thought must have been a rather limited subgenre include "Huggy Bo-Bo" and "Buster." The latter is a bus with other vehicular buddies — Sport the car, Rita the sports car and Digly the digger among them. Their vocabulary is limited to the occasional shared soft giggle or titter; there's a narrator who describes the action and the character's dilemmas and thought processes. Oh, and did I mention "The Wheels on the Bus"?

Kid A also like the enduring "Paw Patrol," a cartoon called "Super Wings" and a live-action fellow who gave himself the name Blippi, who's popular enough to have his likeness licensed for cheap Christmas presents. Blippi is an overgrown man-child — but, unlike Pee-Wee Herman, turns the attention to others and not himself while promoting learning and engagement.

All of this seems fairly age-appropriate. When Kid A looks at the tablet, he's practically got his nose pressed against the screen. I was a bit aghast at the weepy meltdown one night when he couldn't find the charger cord to the tablet, and neither could the adults at home, when his mother was working.

But in the larger scheme of things, the whole TV-screens thing is far from the most pressing concern when you jam two families under one roof. When a lot of other things get sorted out and a sense of routine is established, then we can focus on viewing habits. But first, where's that charger cord?