Like any other issue where moms stand divided, the issue of whether or not to let your kids watch TV (or how much of it to let them watch) can be touchy and there are so many different opinions out there. If you’re still trying to form an opinion on how you feel about kids and tv, the best way to decide is to take a look at what the experts say about it and its effect on children.
How Much Is Too Much?
The American Academy of Pediatrics – you know, the academy that your pediatrician quotes all the time when telling you what to do – well, they have a pretty strong and well-known stance about the issue of kids and TV.
If you want the cliff notes of their stance, all you need to know is that they recommend that any child has no more than 2 hours of screen time a day. The reasons they give this limitation is because too much TV time has been linked to obesity, irregular sleep, behavior issues, impaired academic performance, violence, and less time for play.
Now, many moms take that a step further. When I was a brand new mom and had a visit from a lactation consultant who worked with Le Leche League, she was vehement about absolutely no screen time for the first two years.
I did that for about two months…until I discovered that one half-hour episode of Baby Einstein’s equaled one solid half-hour of complete peace. And also, it’s super educational, you know!
What Are They Watching?
The American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry says that children, on average, watch three to four hours of TV per day. That’s a whole lot of Spongebob. An article on their site states, “By the time of high school graduation, they will have spent more time watching television than they have in the classroom.”
That being said, it’s important that you know what your children are watching, because all forms of media are an education, by themselves. A great way to get a handle on this is not to put TVs in bedrooms. Nowadays, your kids can probably figure out how to watch TV on a phone, iPad, laptop, or whatever else is around, so if you really want control over what they’re putting in their little brains, consider a media room.
Many parents only allow their children to use their various Apple products in the living room. This is a good way to monitor what they’re watching. There are so many great TV programs and educational games at your child’s fingertips, but there’s a lot of garbage too. So, do what works for you, and find a way to get control of what your kids are digesting.
I’ve always tried to handle the kids and TV thing with a balanced approach. If one half hour of Dora the Explorer makes you a healthier, more rested mommy or gives you the chunk of time you need to meet that deadline or if a day of Netflix in bed comforts your little one while she has the flu, go for it. You are not doing damage.
I think these guidelines were created to steer parents away from allowing TV in excess. It is common sense that plopping your kids in front of the TV or iPad all day rather than playing and interacting with them is going to be BAD. A kid’s childhood should be full of imagination and interaction and wonder – not flashing images on a screen. Take cue from this informative piece done by Crystal Ponti of Mommifried about sparking your kid’s love of the outdoors by doing fun activities!
But, you knew that, didn’t you? You’re a SmartMom, after all.
Whether you allow one show or two or zero a day is your prerogative. Stick to it and do what you believe is best for you and your family.