How Much is Too Much TV?

by Julie

old fashioned picture of kids watching tv

This long winter made me introduce something I really, really wanted to hold off on until Will was a little older, and now that I’ve started it’s been hard to stop. TV is addicting. Not for Will, for me! It gives me 5-10 glorious minutes of complete, and utter silence, but I’ve started to feel guilty. That same guilt I feel about internet use during Will’s waking periods, has transferred over to Disney Junior.

So…I started doing some research, and I read this, this and this. After all of this reading, I started to feel even worse about my parenting. In fact, I initially erased this post, because I didn’t want to admit that I was doing something that could potential harm my child. I can blame ignorance, but let’s not kid ourselves. The truth is that TV is like eating an ice cream sundae, I know I shouldn’t do it, but it feels so good at the time.

I told myself that if I set perimeters on television watching, then it would be ok. “I’ll let Will watch 5 minutes right before his first nap, because that’s when he gets fussy, and I’ll let him watch another 5 minutes during the witching hour, because that’s when he gets fussy (anyone see a theme here?). And if he gets sick, five minutes might be extended to ten minutes. 10-20 minutes a day is not bad, right? The experts say, “WRONG”.

The American Academy of Pediatrics released a policy in 2011 stating that even TV as background noise can inhabit a child’s ability to learn, and a parent’s willingness to engage the child in learning. The AAP also believes that TV can lead to poor sleep habits, and language development delays once they begin school.

Kids outside watching cartoons

Alright, now that I “know” all of the negative side-effects of TV, will I let my child watch TV again? Of course(!),  but I am going to try to follow the rules from now on. No more TV until he turns 2 years old, as recommended by American Academy of Pediatrics. He’s the first child, so I can try to do what I’m supposed to, but don’t hold me to this for the 2nd one!

By the way, I emailed this excerpt from David Hill’s article to my husband not because I expect him to stop watching Squawk Box in the morning, but knowledge is power and…I like to bother him at work 😉

“Just having the TV on in the background, even if “no one is watching it,” is enough to delay language development. Normally a parent speaks about 940 words per hour when a toddler is around. With the television on, that number falls by 770! Fewer words means less learning”. 

mother father tv cartoon

When did you introduce TV to your child? What’s your policy on television in your home?

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