The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that children under the age of 2 not watch ANY television. They claim because the brain is developing at such a rapid place and an inordinate amount of learning is taking place, time spent in front of the TV may hinder that development. And even when kids 3 and older watch TV, they recommend 1-2 hours a day.
I think the AAP is misguided on this one.
Without help from the TV, there is no way I’d be able to survive with Will on a daily basis. And that doesn’t make a bad parent, it’s just true.
I’m in charge of getting myself and Will ready in the morning. I need to shower and get dressed. Then I change him and get him dressed. I also need to fit the dog in there too. MJ leaves before Will even wakes up, so I’m flying solo when I do this. And let me tell you right now, if it wasn’t for a combination of kids’ TV shows, I would never be able to get it done.
Will is 21 months old and he is a tornado of activity. He never stops. And usually that’s fine and I love playing with him. But sometimes I need him to stop acting like the Tasmanian Devil just so I can get him dressed or put a coat on him without him throwing himself on the ground and acting like a mental patient.
That’s where my good friends Handy Manny, Thomas the Train and Mickey Mouse save my ass on a daily basis.
He watches two episodes of Mickey Mouse every morning and he loves it. Begs for it actually. He says “Mo Mouse!” over and over again and shouts “Goofy!!” everytime Goofy pops on screen. And just like his father, he’s so tuned in to the show that he really can’t be bothered with anything else going on around him. In fact, one time I caught him watching Mickey on the couch, with a sippy cup in one hand and his other hand shoved down into his diaper. I was so proud!
But the reason I don’t mind him watching TV is because the show has educational value. They’re always teaching things like counting, shapes and colors. It’s not just mindless drivel. Plus it gives me a small window to do what I have to get done.
Yet there is so much controversy over this issue and it’s really divisive among parents.
The “No TV Parents” are unyielding in their criticism of parents who allow their toddlers to watch TV. From high atop their soap boxes, they repeatedly make snide comments about how they don’t need (or in some cases, choose not to even have) TV in their homes. Or if they do, it’s only one certain program for 30 minutes a day. As if exposure to TV is akin to radiation or something, and the second their precious kid watches that glowing box their IQ is going to drop 100 points and they’ll stop developing altogether.
Sorry, but I just don’t buy it.
Will probably watches 90 minutes or so of TV everyday. In the morning and just before bed when we’re calming him down. But the TV is on all day. That’s how I was raised and it’s the only way I can live. That TV has to be on, even if I’m not watching it. I need background noise.
I watched a TON of TV when I was a kid. I did my homework in front of the TV. In college I wrote term papers with the TV on. But I played three sports a year, was an honor roll student, played several instruments and had a ton of friends. I was not some socially isolated deadbeat simply because I watched a shitload of TV. In fact, if anything I think TV definitely helped improve my vocabulary skills and general knowledge. It certainly helped my Jeopardy skills that’s for sure.
As with all other things, it’s about moderation. Am I going to let Will watch TV shows that aren’t appropriate for his age? No. But am I going to limit his exposure to TV? Not really. As long as he remains a kid who likes to play outside, read books and converse with other kids then the TV can stay on.
And as for the AAP, well they’re the same organization that recommends keeping car seats rear-facing until the age of 2. And that is one of the worst ideas I can think of, because when we finally switched Will around to forward-facing he was SO much happier. People need to remember the AAP provides guidelines and recommendations, but parents need to weigh that against their own personal judgment and take it on a case by case basis with each child.
Now I gotta go. There’s a Paranormal State marathon on right now!