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Why I Don't Limit My Kids' TV Time

I recently read an article published on Slate by Farhad Manjoo which debated how much time was too much time for a child to spend watching television or using other devices with a screen.  According to the article, researchers have differing opinions on the length of time and the type of programming that can be detrimental to small children.

While one study showed that too much television as a toddler led to attention-related problems as a first grader, a second study suggested that the amount of television a child watches in the first two years of life had no effect on future test scores. Further studies delved into the effects of the types of programs a child was exposed to — entertaining shows, like Batman, vs educational shows, like Sesame Street.

My opinion? We are drastically overthinking this.

As an adult who was raised in a home where I was free to watch as much or as little television as I pleased and even (gasp!) had one in my room from an early age, I see absolutely no evidence that this has had any negative impact on my life. As a child, I was just as likely to pick up a book as turn on the television. To me, the unrestricted access meant I didn’t assign a high value to television time. I knew that I could watch whenever I wanted and this contributed to the loss of it’s appeal.

Now I am a mom with two children of my own and, while my children do not have their own televisions in their room, the one in our living room is on all day long. While my children do spend some time in front of it — mostly first thing in the morning when they are still waking up — I see the same trend emerging in them. They just don’t care that much about it. Though they could easily park themselves on the couch and veg for hours in front of Nick Jr., they choose to spend the predominance of their day playing make-believe, coloring, or running around the yard.

While I certainly don’t condone allowing your child to sit on the couch in front of the television for hours until their mind melts and their only form of communication is through quotes from iCarly, I think  we’re really giving television too much credit in it’s power to derail the minds of our youth.

Do you restrict the amount of television your child watches or, like me, do you take all the research with a grain of salt?

Image source: {N}Duran on Flickr

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