Toddlers and TV

Toddler watching television
Flickr Image/ Leonid Mamchenkov

Chances are you've enjoyed your fair share of television. You may enjoy it to unwind, to be entertained, or simply to learn something new.

How has your child responded to the television? If it's on, do they stop and stare or do they pay no attention to it at all? Have you tuned into any of the shows especially designed for children? Are you wondering what is appropriate? How much television is appropriate?

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends no (yes, that would be zero) television viewing for children under the age of 2 years. Why, you may wonder? The question you want to consider (as experts have) is what does a child gain from watching television? There is so much a child can learn from other activities (reading books with a caregiver, singing and finger plays, natural interactions with their environment and toys). These interactions are much more meaningful for young children. They are also much more beneficial.

On the flip side, there are many wonderful developed television programs especially designed for young children. From Sesame Street, which was developed by early childhood experts to support child development, to the newest shows (Dora, Blue's Clues, etc.), there are many shows that are both developmentally appropriate and provide an enjoyable, entertaining, and even educational experience for your child.

If you decide to turn on the tube:

  • Choose carefully. It may be wise to watch a program on your own before allowing your child to watch it. Consider the content being presented. How will your child respond? Is there anything that your child may be fearful of? Do you agree with the messages and content the program is communicating?
  • Watch with your child. Monitor their reactions to what they are watching. Talk with them about what they are seeing. If a character does something that is not realistic, you may want to respond with “that was silly, wasn't it?”
  • Minimize exposure to commercials. You never quite know what is going to be coming on and if it will be appropriate. Rely on technologies such as DVD or DVR.
  • A little goes a long way. Television may provide an additional opportunity for you and your child to share a quiet interaction (and even give you a little R&R from chasing them around!), however, like everything else, it should be used in moderation. Set boundaries for your child in terms of how much TV they are permitted to watch. There may be times when your child shows their displeasure in not being allowed to see another program. Empathize with their feelings, but stand your ground. If you are consistent, your toddler will soon learn that “all done” does mean, “all done.”

Television is a part of our lives. However, it is totally up to you to determine how much of it is a part of your child's.

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Toddlers and TV

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1 comment

  1. Marilyn says:

    We watch TV together and individually, together is fun and educational, numbers, counting, colors, letters, their sounds and words that start with are all learned. Animal names and babies names, sounds and specific things about them, again learned. up to date on drawing, he loves to “get it right”, good boy, great job, you did it! great rewards!

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