Recently, I got an email from a fellow parent asking me if I let my daughter watch TV. She was feeling a little guilty about how often she had been letting her son watch shows and wanted to get another moms perspective since our littles are just about the same age. This made me curious about how other parents felt about this topic.
Here’s our story with toddlers and TV:
I used to be that mom who was like, “No TV until my kid turns two and even then, I’m not making any guarantees!” But recently I’ve started to change my tune.
A couple of months ago, when she wasn’t feeling particularly great, I let my then 18-month-old snuggle up and watch an episode of “The Mickey Mouse Clubhouse” with me and ever since I’ve been easing up on my stance.
I’ve set some boundaries for TV watching though. First of all, we only watch TV together. If Fern wants to watch a show, I sit down and watch with her. This isn’t because I am particularly concerned about what she is watching, but because I want to keep myself from using television as a babysitter. I don’t think there’s any harm in a little one watching a show on their own, but I know myself and I know how easy it would be to just let her camp out there while I got things done. I know I would lose track of time, so really the boundary is more for me than it is for my daughter.
Second, we stick to watching only one show in a sitting – if it’s a short one, we’ll sometimes watch two. I’ll be the first to admit that a TV show can be a nice way to break up the day when it’s rainy and you have a stir-crazy toddler, but I don’t want it to become my go-to and to keep me from trying to plan other fun activities for her or from just sitting down to play technology-free.
Third, we limit other technology on TV days. Typically, I’ll let Fern watch a TV show 2-3 times a week. More often wouldn’t be the end of the world or anything, but I try to keep it as a bit of a novelty. On TV days, I try to balance the amount of other technology that we use. Recently, we’ve tried out a few new iPhone apps that Fern really enjoys, but I try to make sure that on TV days we don’t do apps. Basically I just want to make sure she’s still playing and doing non-tech things most of the time. She’s going to be inundated with technology for the rest of her life, so I’d like to limit it as much as I can while I am able to.
These are just the things that work for us and I set these boundaries for myself, because they help me as a mom. Other people may not need them and other kids may be able to watch more TV (or no TV!) and be totally fine. This is just our jam.
In general, I think letting kids watch TV gets a bad rap. I know a lot of people who bad mouth TV and then let their kids camp out playing apps and watching TV shows on their phone – what’s the difference? It’s all about balance. There are a ton of great educational shows out there and Fern has definitely learned from some of these shows. She mastered shapes while watching “The Mickey Mouse Clubhouse” and now loves pointing out shapes wherever we go (“Circle mama! Circle!”). Also, watching TV has become a fun bonding thing for us to do together and it’s a little half hour of time in the day where my toddler will actually let me snuggle her and for that I say: God bless TV!
What are your feelings about TV? Do you let your toddler watch TV? If so do you set any limits?
Lauren Hartmann is the founder of The Little Things We Do, a blog about life and adventures in Portland Oregon. Follow her on Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest and Instagram or catch up on all of her posts here on Babble. More from Lauren: