Friday, August 23, 2013

TV and Babies

This article got me thinking. I have no idea why I was so anti television for Jude. I watched a lot of TV up until I was old enough to play outside on my own, aka "the formative" years, and I turned out just fine. My IQ is over 125 and I have excellent focus, so... what was the issue?

I mean, sure, perhaps if you are just plopping your toddler down in front of a screen and leaving it there all by itself for long periods of time... I can see how that would negatively impact development in many ways, but if you turn it into an interactive, social activity it's pretty great. Not only will it free up precious moments for you to tend to your own needs, it's also a learning experience in its own right -- done correctly.

There is a lot of educational child-friendly programming on Netflix. Once Jude was old enough to actually care about what was on the screen I started playing Sesame Street in the morning so that I could take a shower. It was the only time in my day that I was not holding him where he was content.  I started with the really old episodes and played right on through to the newer ones. He loves it. Now we spend the majority of our day playing, practicing skills, eating, and napping, but I keep Sesame Street on in the background almost all of the time.

The only parts he's ever really interested in are the opening themes to the mini-series throughout (Bert & Ernie's Great Adventures, Abby's Flying Fairy School, etc.) and Elmo's World, so it's often just background noise for us both. I get up and dance with him every time music comes on. I say hello to new characters as they appear on screen and wave goodbye when they depart. I even participate in the interaction parts as if I were a kid too. He is fascinated and thoroughly loves the interaction he and Mommy have with the muppets on the magic screen. He also loves Elmo's World, so much in fact that if it comes on while we're in another room of the house he will stop what he's doing and crawl out into the living room as fast as he can. He'll watch it aptly from start to finish. He's developed an impressive attention span for a human who has only existed outside for 10 months. He's also ahead developmentally of the other babies in his age group.

For a while I felt bad about all of this. It was television. People (professional baby-people!1!1eleven!) these days tell you not to allow any TV time until well after 2 whole years. Before he was here I was so going to stick to that strict rule. No TV! TV is bad! But wait, why again?

Is it the commercials? There aren't any on Netflix and we don't have regular cable so, there's never any advertisements telling him he needs $300 shoes or a flawless complexion. Is it the content? If I decide to watch an episode of Deep Space Nine he isn't learning that Cardasians kill Bajorans. He's actually ignoring it completely while playing with blocks and balls and eating Cheerios within plain view of me. Unless it is Sesame Street, which he has associated as "his" show, he has no interest at all. The television may as well be off he's paying so little attention to what's going on. So I'm confused here. Why did I think TV would make my baby implode again?

I watched TV up until around the age of 5 years and was never overweight, didn't struggle with paying attention or school work, and would always choose to go outside to play over television if the option was available to me. I was not ruined by consumerism, stricken by ADD, or molded into an idiot by my time in front of the screen. So why the heck did I think it'd be so awful for my offspring to do exactly what I did? Exactly what my parents did when they were kids, and if it wasn't the Depression, exactly what their parents probably would have done as children too? Do what's right for you and your kids, mommies. If that includes television, it includes television. If that includes dwelling in the forest in a thicket and living off the fat o' the land, so be it. It works for your family. Just continue to be an interactive part in their development and it'll all go well. It's not about the TV or lack-thereof, it's about being a present parent in your child's life.


  1. God damn...! Never ever thought of it that way, it IS that simple. :-) Thank you.

    We choose the shows our kids watch, all without commercial breaks. When they occasionally get to watch commercials it's scary - they believe what they hear adults telling them on the telly = a bad bad bad thing.
    So we're sticking with Netflix or non-commercial channels (state kids channel is free from advertising). :-)

    1. Gladly! I don't know why we're often so hard on ourselves.