Thursday, October 08, 2009

A Great TV Experiment of a Different Sort

When I was pregnant, I sat Keith down for a serious talk. I had been doing massive amounts of reading to prepare for Being a Parent (as all pregnant women due, even though it's mostly a futile effort), and I had concluded that our child should not be exposed to TV before age 2.

The American Association of Pediatrics had determined that there may be links between watching too much TV at too young of an age and attention deficit issues .... or that TV under the age of 2 could just generally stunt brain development. Although there weren't a ton of studies, just the suggestion was enough to make me decree that our baby would not watch TV until after age 2.

Alright "exposed" might be a bit too strong. That's not to say that she's never seen the TV. It just means that, generally, we turn off the TV when she's around, and we definitely don't spend any time with Baby Einstein videos or Elmo.

What I've been surprised about lately is that I don't feel like I've come across many other parents who share that point of view. I didn't think it was that far out of the norm. Now do I need to be concerned that, when she starts preschool, she will be socially behind because she won't get toddler pop culture references like Elmo and Guy Smile, etc.?


Jennifer said...

I always said my kids wouldn't watch tv but I never determined at which age I would stop this restriction. I always envisioned at lot past age 2 though. There is so much violence on tv now; way more than when I was little. My sis-in-law allows my nephew to watch the shows on PBS and so do my parents as they babysit him during the week. He turns one at the end of the month. He is captivated by the tv but really seems to get something out of the PBS shows. So, I am not sure what the right answer is. Not being a parent, it is easy for me to say I would rather read to my child rather than plop them in front of the box to entertain them, even for learning. Does it matter if she doesn't get pop culture references? I am sure she'll figure it out soon enough at school right?

Elaine said...

If it makes you feel any better we don't watch TV programmes with Emily - and she certainly doesn't watch them on her own! The news and perhaps music channels will be on in the background when she is in the room, but David and I have never encouraged her to watch Children's shows and it isn't something that we will be doing soon. The TV is ALWAYS on at her Gran's house and they will often put it on to CBeebies, but Emily doesn't really take much notice, she would rather play and read adn explore - thankfully. She has seen a old favourite of my mum's, Bagpuss, from the 1950s occasionally, but she is not the kind of girl who gets upset when the TV gets switched off or isn't on at all. Stick to your guns! Ex

Jonathan said...

There is a danger if you restrict anything that it becomes sought after. We have a lot of computer stuff around the house - games consoles, etc. We never restricted any of it, and the kids see it as just something else to play with.

They ALWAYS choose playing with us over a video game, DVD, or anything like that. It's not rocket science.

There is also the social thing, but I think that's more about the parents than the kids, at least until they are perhaps 8 or 9, and start wanting to fit in.

revjeremy said...

I agree.

P.S. I wouldn't worry about the social hierarchy in preschool, just teach her how to destroy structures made of blocks and she will be the most awesome kid in the class.

M. Lubbers said...

It's very interesting to hear from people who do and don't have kids--what one would plan to do, and what actually is working.

I also find it interesting that Jen, Elaine, and Jonathan's comments all echo each other. It seems like you're all saying just make sure that TV isn't the main form of entertainment, all throughout Eleanor's life, and teach her other ways to entertain herself. Makes sense to me!

For the record, I wasn't really that concerned about Eleanor being at a disadvantage by not knowing TV characters' names. But she is a master of knocking down blocks; her newest nickname is "Destructor" for the glee with which she knocks down towers, followed by a happy cackle and the sign for "more." So I think she'll fit right in :)

Thanks for the comments!