I was following a discussion thread on a little parenting related Facebook group that I’m a member of, and what was a simple question about the effects of TV exposure on sleep had turned into a judge-fest with Holier Than Thou parents piling onto the original poster for even asking such a question.
Parents are serious about the whole TV thing… And yes, most expert bodies will recommend no TV before age 2, and yes, googling TV and babies will show you a list of horrible things that will happen to your baby, developmentally, if they are exposed to TV. But I find it hard to take those threats seriously when the generation making these judgments was largely raised on too much TV themselves.
I remember watching multiple cartoons on Saturday mornings, and I remember the news being on before dinner while my parents cooked and I played. As I got a little older we started having a nightly show that we would watch as a family, like The Outer Limits, or Xena: Warrior Princess. We often watched dinner in front of the TV. It felt like a treat, and it felt like time spent with my family. I wasn’t glued to the TV set, and even though the option to watch was there, I usually preferred and chose imaginative play over TV. I don’t know if this was just me – if maybe other little kids would have more trouble becoming “unglued”… But I really don’t buy into the threat of damages to the child’s psyche.
Another reason I am bothered by the judgmental tone of Parents-Against-TV is that, as a Work-At-Home-Mom, I sometimes desperately need to distract my baby for just another 15 minutes so I can finish up a project/email/task. I do feel guilty about it, but only because I have to spend another 15 minutes not engaging with my baby, not because I put her in front of a carefully curated TV program.
In my (preemptive) defense
I DO however have concern with advertising, and how it is increasingly targeted at children, pushing consumerism at a young age and making children enter the competition of the Haves and the Have Nots at such a young age. That’s why we use Netflix, and we hand pick the shows we let our baby watch. I don’t turn on disturbing adult-themed shows (these days that includes news programs…), and I don’t welcome commercials into my home. That’s the extent of my extremeness on the matter.
Where do you stand on the TV-for-babies front? Am I alone in my lax approach? (it’s ok if I am… Don’t let that hold you back from your comments 😊)