Tuesday, June 1, 2010

TV time

Just found out that the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends no television for kids under age 2, even if it's "educational." That sounds fantastic to me.

It also sounds unrealistic.

When Olive was a newborn, I would frequently watch TV when I nursed her. But after a couple of months, she started getting distracted by what was on the tube, turning her head away from my breast and towards the TV, so I quickly nixed that practice. However, PapaM and I occasionally let Olive watch some evening TV with us: she's seen her fair share of Survivor and Deadliest Catch (PapaM has a slight obsession with that show).

I also throw in a Baby Einstein DVD a few times a week so I can have time to make dinner. The DVDs I have show stimulating visuals of moving objects with Mozart music in the background or teach about different animals. Things I would teach her myself, but I'm just letting the TV do it. Plus, the shows are only 30 minutes long. (Okay, sometimes I play them twice so Olive gets 60 minutes of tube time--but that's only for fancy dinners!) So it's okay, right?

Actually, I don't feel completely okay about it, but don't know how else to get dinner done. I try to do the food prep while Olive's napping, but that isn't always possible. Other times, I'll put Olive in her bouncy chair in the kitchen and turn on some music to keep her entertained, but that doesn't always work either.  I do feel like she is too young (four months old) to be exposed to television, but sometimes I feel like it's my only option.

I try not to beat myself up over stuff like this. I would love to have the time and stamina to play with Olive 24/7, but ultimately I don't think a little TV is going to ruin my daughter. Growing up, my mother limited our TV time to two hours a day (less than the average three hours today's kids watch each day). I thought that was a good balance and think I turned out to be a pretty engaged kid, still able to interact with and explore the non-TV world around me.

If any of you mamas have ideas for how to avoid TV and still get stuff done, please share! I'm sure this will continue to be a challenge as my child grows up.


MamaQ said...

I would often carry Mayumi on my back while I prepared dinner, or put her in the bumbo to watch me while I did it. But this was mostly because she was completely uninterested in tv! As I write this, she is watching Dora the Explorer. I thought I would be a No-TV advocate, but reality set in. I've heard of this book by Steven Johnson called "Everything Bad is Good for You" and I'm kind of intrigued. I think he talks about watching TV.
Do you remember when we were kids and we had a two hour time limit on the tv? and we took turns deciding what to watch? Monday was my day for saying family prayers and for choosing what shows we could watch on the tube. Genius.

Ye Stewart Clan said...

I really struggle with this now that my little man is 3 1/2 years old. He wasn't interested in television until he was about 2 1/2 but now he would watch it all day if I let him. He fights me over it. He throws fits when I turn it off. The more TV he watches the more poorly behaved he is, even if the programming is appropriate. But it is the only way I can shower without him destroying the house.

Rachel Hagen said...

My mother-in-law just told us about this. Except when Mick asked, "until what age?" she said, "umm, forever!" We all laughed and thought it pretty funny. Not that I'm letting our little two-week old watch TV, but the advice came at the wrong time. How am I supposed to stay up at two in the morning when breastfeeding my son?! I think it was a little too much in-law time and I got pretty annoyed. At least I can read the article now and stop going off what she didn't really remember. :)

ginger said...

When my 1st was little, we did baby einstein (so I could shower) and then an increasing amount of programs. They were "educational" so I justified it...after all, I really needed that shower...time to cook dinner...phone call...minute to check email...nap because I was pregnant...the list got longer and longer.

After reading more on the potential detrimental effects of TV on children (the AAP says it alters brain development on children under 2 and a new study shows a significant decrease in GPA even with kids who watch minimal amounts ofd educational programs), I gave it up. He was just over 3 and we went cold turkey. The TV had already been gone for a few years, the laptop was folded up and put in the bookshelf for the day and the DVDs went away. All of them. I was surprised at how quickly we both acclimated. His imaginative play took off like nobody's business and he joined me in the kitchen when dinner time approached. Now, at 7 years old, he makes scrambled eggs with cheese for the whole family at breakfast time, grilled cheese for his brothers at lunch, the family granola recipe and roast chicken with vegetables with no supervision. I don't think he could have gotten such practical skills with even the most "education" TV. Not to mention, I can sew or play with the baby, or whatever while he is in the kitchen. Of course, cooking is just one of the many special learning and bonding opportunities we have found by ditching the screen. I have 4 kiddos now and since we're homeschooling they are around all of the time. Honestly, it doesn't feel like enough. It seems like just yesterday he was watching Blue on the couch so I could get a break and today he can cook all three meals for the family, scour the sink, read Narnia and plant a garden without an ounce of help from me. Time with our little ones is so precious and so short. Friends, sports, music classes and other activities will soon be pulling your family in all directions, so why not establish a tradition that when you have the opportunity to be home together, you do real things together? Give your littles all of you and not whatever pop-culture is serving up.

Now strap that baby on your back and get cooking. How else is she going to learn to slice sushi veggies uniformly?

ginger said...

"...Each additional hour of TV that toddlers watch per week translates into poorer classroom behavior, lower math scores, less physical activity, and more snacking at age 10, according to a new study in the Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine..."


Kumi said...

I like Ginger's way. You may bring Olive's bouncer to the kitchen and give her some utensils to play with. Or use thee bouncer with the play-mat together. I feel scared that Olive already paying attention to TV. You had two hours TV tune daily? At grammar school??? It was way too much TV time……

Esther said...

I think their needs to be a balance.