Way back when, I used to love good TV dramas. Back when I had time to actually watch TV, of course. Shows like Criminal Minds and CSI were favorites with Law and Order SVU being at the top of the list. Those shows are very well written and usually pretty suspenseful too so I enjoyed watching them.
The problem is, they’re not exactly kid friendly. Now that Henry is aware of what’s going on around him, he definitely takes notice of what I’m doing. Since I’m working again, I spend half of my day on the computer with Henry right beside me either watching me from his swinging chair or sitting in my lap. I always wonder how much he picks up as he seems to be reading along as I do work things or check out my daily blogs or look for new recipes to try. And when the CPA and I catch an hour of TV in the evenings, it’s everything we can do to keep him from twisting around in our laps to get a better view. I mean the kid’s only four months and he already seems to be entranced any time the TV or computer is in sight.
It’s got me thinking about the whole issue of TV and kids and when, where and how much they should be allowed to watch. I even tried a little experiment the other day – I put in the Signing Time video we have that’s geared towards little babies. Henry was fascinated with it for about 10 minutes. Then he’d had enough and he started fussing. Whether he was overstimulated or just needed his diaper changed (the latter was definitely true) I’m not sure, but I went ahead and turned it off. But there are other times when he’ll sit with us on the couch and watch a whole episode of Jeopardy without blinking an eye.
The thing is – I have no idea if it’s damaging him to watch TV or not. Research seems to indicate that it is. The American Academy of Pediatrics has stated that too much television (under the age of two) can “negatively affect brain development.” Then there’s the AACP who said that kids who watch a lot of TV often have weight problems, lower grades in school and read fewer books. Umm… none of that sounds good.
So what do I do? I think that not watching crime dramas around him is a given, but do I limit all TV programs (and computer usage) when he’s around? Or do allow it to stay on in the background so that he’s used to it and doesn’t see it as a “treat”? And what about programs geared for children – are they acceptable or do they cause problems too?
Based on what I’ve been reading I have an idea of what the experts suggest, but what about the real world? What happens when you have a fussy kid and you have to get dinner ready and there’s nothing else but the TV that will calm him down? What then?
I’d love to hear how real moms and dads handle the issue of TV and their kids: is there none at all, only a little, or is it on all the time?