Tuesday, January 15, 2013

My Babysitter The TV

As I was working on a previous post about what you expose your kids to I was overwhelmed by the thought that honestly, not many parents really spend time thinking about what is and isn't ok for their children to watch.  It just sort of happens.  The tv is on much of the day in many households.

I had well meaning, good people tell me very shortly after we brought little one home to put him in front of the tv when I need to shower, cook, etc.  I was a bit shocked (not overly shocked, I have done social work, little shocks me).  I wasn't shocked that this is done, I know it is, but I was shocked by the number and range of people that mentioned this.  People that I thought were more like me...prudish.

Why have we become so ok with the idea that the tv is a babysitting device.  Now, I do get that some times it is really great to have a distraction for the child (long car rides, or the occassionally intentionally chosen video).  Yet, I have never seen a study touting the benefits of children watching tv.  I have only ever seen studies that caution parents about their kids watching too much tv and the wrong kinds of tv.

I realize that not using the tv can make parenting "harder".  It would have been easy to sit little man in front of the tv in his little bouncy seat and go about my business for a while.  That is not the type of parents we want to be.  We try to parent based on what we think will hopefully lead him to be a good man some day.   Would a little bit of tv ruin that, probably not.  But would it help?

Plus, I am not talking about a little bit of tv.  I found this article (link below) on a quick search (many seemed to show similar numbers).  Apparently, kids 2 and up watch more than 24 hours of tv a week!   Holy cow!  An entire day a week wasted on tv.  http://www.livestrong.com/article/222032-how-much-tv-does-the-average-child-watch-each-day/

The thing is, I know lots of people would read this and think I am unrealistic or dramatic.  I am just making a big deal out of nothing.  I wish I wasn't so lazy and I would point out studies about the risks associated with tv viewing.  I think as a thoughtful adult though you already know these things.  You know that kids mimic what they see.  You know they can get chubby being sedentary.  You know you aren't interacting with them while they watch.  You know they can get hyper or misbehave after too much tv.  You know they have seen things you would probably not have preferred.

I don't think tv is the devil (my husband and I watch it).  There are a lot of entertaining and interesting things to see on tv.  However, I am asking you to pay attention to what is flashing across that screen and make conscientious decisions about how much and what your children will be allowed to watch.

Is this something you have already been working on?
Do you notice changes in your kids behavior after watching certain tv shows?
Do you think I am a drama queen?

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