You may have noticed that I have been focusing on On Becoming Babywise Book Two this month. I was re-reading the chapter on waketime activities today. This chapter starts out with a "wake-up" plea to parents that "educational programming" for children under two is not educational at all. In fact, research has shown that there is some negative results from a child under two watching television.
I am sure a lot of you saw this information released from the AAP last fall: http://arstechnica.com/science/news/2011/10/its-official-to-protect-babys-brain-turn-off-the-tv.ars
This says that not only is watching TV--even "educational" TV--is not only not good, but potentially bad. And this statistic literally sent my eyebrows straight up. The average 12 month old gets 1-2 hours of screen time a day.
This article sites some things that are negative about TV usage prior to two:
- Studies consistently find that a child under two cannot learn anything from the TV anyway
- Using TV as a sleep crutch leads to poor sleep habits
- While the TV is on, you are interacting with your child less
- Three studies have found a link between "educational television" and developmental delays
- There may also be a link to poor attention spans
- It distracts baby from play (even as a background noise)
So with these negative effects, what is it about the TV that makes parents choose to allow their child to watch TV anyway? I am sure some "just don't buy it" and think it can't possibly harm. I am sure some are unaware. I am sure some feel they need the TV to give them time to themselves--even if it is just to shower and brush their teeth.
Ari Brown of the Academy says, "“We know you can’t spend 24 hours a day reading to your child and playing with them. That’s okay. What’s also okay is your child playing independently,” she said. “That’s valuable time. They’re problem-solving. They’re using their imagination, thinking creatively and entertaining themselves.”
My children have never been big TV watchers prior to age two. I purposefully limit it (and ban it), but I also just couldn't fit it in my day if I wanted to. Okay, I guess I could cut something out for TV if it was a priority to me. But we don't ever need it. Naps, mealtimes, independent playtime, family time...it seems hard enough to get that time in with baby without adding television to our day. I can see it being a tempting crutch once baby went to one nap a day and was awake longer.
All of my children have seen a television show before age two. Brayden saw it earliest, then Kaitlyn, then McKenna. With Brayden I did what just naturally felt right. He started watching TV when I was pregnant with Kaitlyn and he was down to one nap. I needed that 30 minutes a day to just sit still. I sat by him on the couch. But by the time McKenna came along, I had formed a more solid opinion that TV was not only unnecessary, but even not good. She didn't really watch TV until after she turned two, and didn't start any sort of consistency with TV until she was about 2.75 (winter time for us). I still don't let her watch it every day. She is, however, at a point where there is learning to be had from educational programming.
I encourage you to read the article and encourage you to limit if not totally banish TV for the first two years. I am not saying forever (unless you want to, that is fine). Just the first two years. After that, there is learning that happens.
What are your TV rules in your home?
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