Friday, September 4, 2009

Television Viewing- When is it too young (or too much)?

It's amazing the compromises one makes once the realities of parenthood set in.

The television is my biggest one.

Eric loves t.v. Especially Sesame Street. I don't know what kind of subliminal messages that program puts in kids' heads, but they are suddenly Elmo disciples after only one episode. If your kids haven't started watching Sesame Street yet you should seriously consider banning PBS from your home (I'm only half joking).

I told myself I would never, ever let my kids watch t.v. Ok, maybe once they got in school so they wouldn't be totally socially inept. And only on the weekends. For 15 minutes. But suddenly I found myself letting Eric watch a couple minutes of the Food Network. He loves Paula's show, I have no idea why. It's only for a few minutes, I told myself. It's okay...

Then there was this summer when things were nuts, and I let Eric watch a few minutes of Sesame Street because it's educational, right? Heck, maybe he'll even learn how to talk finally! And he is learning what sounds letters make, which is both cool in a completely parental-bragging kind of way, but a little disconcerting because what if Eric decides to just talk like a Hooked On Phonics DVD for the rest of his childhood? I mean, the kid can't say 'Mama' but he can point to an "H" on my shirt and say "ha." [sigh]

Now Eric wants to view Sesame Street 24/7. He will drag me by my pants to the television, point to the t.v. and babble "da, da DA, da-da?" He would be the happiest toddler on the planet if I simply let him sit in front of the t.v. with a FIOS on-demand episode running in a loop. It's really creepy to watch your 20 month-old sitting six inches from a screen and completely enraptured. Very creepy.

So my new rule is- only 15-30 minutes a day after his nap. And I'm having trouble sticking to it. Mostly because he throws a fit, and I can't get him distracted into doing something else. But I will admit- I'm guilty as well; it's so easy to just sit your kid there while you 1)load dishes, 2)actually get to eat lunch 3)spend a little cuddle time with the baby on the other side of the sofa, etc.

Anyone out there have any ideas for how to ween my kid off of the television?


Anonymous said...

Sorry, no suggestions here. We are the bad parents who taught the 3 and 5 yr old how to turn on the TV and push the "favorites" button until Noggin comes on just so that we could doze for an additional 30 min (until they start yelling that they are hungry)

emma said...

i justify different shows based on what they "teach" - Hi5 is another form of baby crack, but it also gets them dancing & moving & through the music breaks words into phonemic segments (ok, cds would do the same thing, but I get a break this way! :). Between teh lions, super why & something else we dvr all have much more print on the screen (again, I could just stick words around my house...) :) Key away from tv seems to be getting out of the living room/house. But on days like today where it's warmer than 80, it's not so motivating for me!!

Anonymous said...

You're not too far away from 24 months, when we'll let Evie start watching Sesame Street ourselves. I've heard that TV is nothing but trouble for babies under 2, but after that it is good for them to get a little experience with it. They can learn from it and you can use it as a reward for good behavior or take it away as a consequence for bad behavior. I've heard that 30 minutes per day is acceptable for a preschooler, and IMO Eric is close enough to 24 months that you're fine. If I were you, with an infant to care for, I'd do the same thing. I think it's a great idea, too, to schedule it right after his nap since it's generally a time that kids are cranky and you are trying to finish up something you were doing during the nap.

Leigh Anne said...

My 2 year old has become obsessed with Elmo. I feel your pain.