Note: This was supposed to post last night – but I was having issues with getting the video off my phone- and the dancing baby really makes the whole thing. Issues resolved, so here you go.
In the past, I’ve mentioned my thoughts on how kids toys should encourage learning and creativity. You can read more about that here if you’re interested. But I haven’t really mentioned my views on kids and TV. I know that every parent and family is different on this issue, and maybe my view is an unpopular one, but I don’t believe babies should watch TV. At all.
This has always just been a rule we’ve lived by around here. And sometimes people are really surprised by that. Which kind of surprises me actually. Besides the fact that the American Academy of Pediatrics has said repeatedly that babies should be kept away from television altogether, I’ve always feared that the lights, sounds, sudden scene changes, unnatural transitions, strange faces, and staged environments create a false reality that might interfere with learning and understanding the real world around them. Plus I don’t think babies brains are capable of understanding the cause/effect situations or ‘lessons’ in kids television shows- which usually result from some poor decision or bad behavior before the redeeming finale (lesson). So before becoming a mom, I read up. And several studies do show that television viewing (even TV supposedly “made” for babies) is harmful for children under three years old, slowing language development, encouraging over-excitedness, causing troubles with sleep and concentration, and the list goes on. In France baby-targeted television was actually banned in 2008 for these very reasons.
So we’ve always made a point to not make TV watching a part of Vera’s days. Obsessively at first (i.e. if it was on, she wasn’t ever faced toward the TV before she could move on her own), and then more relaxed (i.e. we might have it on HGTV or ESPN in the background but wouldn’t encourage her to sit and watch it and never tuned to kid-targeted shows).
But that isn’t really what this post is about. It’s more of an introduction to the real topic. That while I strongly believe babies shouldn’t watch TV, my baby isn’t really a baby anymore, and I can’t deny that TV is a part of our society. So since she’s quickly approaching two, and I feel like she’s getting a better sense of the world, we’ve been slowly introducing some selective visual media.
That isn’t to say we suddenly let her watch TV now. She’s still too young to grasp much of it and I’m not over my fears. But we’ve started letting her play some learning apps on the iPad (I Hear Ewe– with pictures and animal sounds- is her favorite).
Then we started watching nursery rhyme animations on YouTube and she loved it. One of the recommended videos that came up, and we watched often, was the DoodleBops, so when we saw it on the TV we let her watch it for a little bit because we knew she’d know the songs. This was her reaction:
Since then we’ve also let her occasionally watch Dogs 101 because of her love of puppies and Daniel Tiger, because of my love of Mr. Rodgers. And I know she watches a little bit of PBS at daycare while her provider makes lunch for the kids. But that’s as far as it goes here just yet. Although I think she’s getting to an age and development where she can handle a little TV time, I never want her to need the TV, so we’re still a little overly cautious.
What do you think is a good age for TV watching? Do you put limits on your kids’ TV time?