Yes, the TV is my friend. Actually it’s very good friend, particularly when I need some “me time” or time to finish chores (although Sam surprised me the other Friday by getting up from her seat and saying, “You want to help Mommy with the laundry,” when she saw me wheeling out the laundry hamper — so we turned it into another bonding activity.). I used to tell myself I wouldn’t be one of those moms who would let her eat in front of the TV either, but after several unsuccessful attempts to keep her seated long enough to eat a good meal, well…. Let’s just say I prefer to choose my battles. 🙂
Some of my mommy friends have asked for my opinion about toddler TV-watching. Understandably we all have our concerns, since some recent studies correlate TV with ADHD (Attention Deficiency and Hyperactivity Disorder). For one quite honestly, Sam learned to read with the help of TV. She’s also picked up a few good lessons from programs like Sesame Street and Barney, her two favorite shows. For instance if it wasn’t for the Barney Fun on Wheels video where they sing “Cross the Street”, Sam would actually still be running fearlessly into the streets while I desperately try to catch up with her, heart-in-mouth (It is a big help for huge clunky pregnant me that she stops to wait and hold my hand instead as the song suggests).
That said, I’m still wary of too much TV time, and have created some self-imposed My Mommyology guidelines. They are as follows:
1. Spread TV time throughout the day, about 2-3 times in frequency, with a maximum 2-3 hour cumulative time per day. If she were below a year old, it would only be up to an hour. This also includes time spent watching video clips on the computer. It helps to avoid overstimulation and tired eyes.
2. It’s not given if she doesn’t ask for it. Therefore when she doesn’t look for it, we don’t suggest it.
3. There is no time extension, regardless of negotiation or protest (unless it is a special day like her birthday, or if it’s just one of those days when I need a few more minutes to breathe).
4. During TV time, something else has to get done on my end, so I know that the distraction is used wisely.
5. All shows are pre-screened prior to her independent viewing. This is so that I know what she’s watched and can discuss it with her even if she’s not in front of the tube.
6. The show must add value to her life (be it a wholesome fun show or an educational program). Spongebob Squarepants is a no-no on my list. Yo Gabba Gabba is another program I’m not too fond of, in spite of it’s popularity amongst kids. This also implies that we don’t watch much TV either when she’s awake, apart from the news and my husband’s NBA games or PGA shows (that is another battle I would rather not engage in). Thank goodness then for the DVR and Netflix!
It sounds quite strict and limiting, I am aware of that; and it does keep me on my feet as to how to keep her preoccupied on a daily basis. For the moment that is a challenge I’m willing to accept, because I still do believe that while TV can teach her a lot, she’ll still learn more from quality human interaction and the exposure to different activities. I hope to God it all turns out to be the right decision in the end!