As someone who grew up without a TV, I’m always curious about how parents address the TV/no TV question. We all know that the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends no television for children under the age of two. But how many toddlers get some form of screen time regularly? I’m guessing a fair number. I know mine does. Between watching Magic School Bus DVDs with her older sister and watching a cute animated version of Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star over and over on YouTube (seriously, ten times in a row sometimes) while I’m sorting papers in our office, she’s getting some screen time in most days.
Am I a bad parent for letting my not-quite two year old watch Classical Baby while I fold laundry rather than making a game out of sorting socks or something? Maybe.
I feel guilty about it. But then there’s always something to feel guilty about. I’m a mom. Isn’t that part of the job description?
But another part of the job description is to do the best I can using the tools at my disposal. Raising children is a challenge. Maintaining sanity while juggling the care and feeding of said children, staying one step ahead of them developmentally (who am I joking – I’m one step behind as often as I’m ahead), keeping a somewhat clean house, maintaining a viable relationship with my husband when we sometimes just feel like it’s all about the children, and doing my own work – whew – it can be hard. And I’m not above popping in a DVD sometimes if it makes it a little easier.
I have a complicated relationship with TV. We didn’t have one when I was growing up – my mom thought there were better things for kids to do than watch TV. She was right of course –we played and read, cooked and drew. And did I miss it? Not so much. But to this day I continue to miss all kinds of cultural references that are standard fare for most Americans. I’m pretty smart, but I can’t play Trivial Pursuit to save my life.
So what am I saying? That I’m using TV to help make parenting a tad easier at times but also because I want my children to feel normal—all by letting them do something that they enjoy doing. In moderation. We don’t have television reception (and I’m still out of the loop) but we do watch DVDs. This way I can vet what my young children watch and avoid commercials, violence, and annoying shows (is it just me, or is Dora super annoying? all that yelling and repeating drives me crazy).
Some of our favorite DVDs for toddlers have been Harold and the Purple Crayon, Classical Baby (Music, Dance, Art), Here Come the 123s and ABCs by They Might Be Giants, The Very Hungry Caterpillar, and Max and Ruby. (Even if our toddler is just as likely to watch some of Pippi Longstocking or Tangled with her older sister.)
How about you? Does your toddler watch TV?
Illustration credit: Image by DigitalArt
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