Before you have children, you plan out activities and guidelines for what they can and can’t do. Maybe you want to feed them an all organic diet, or maybe you think you’ll never let them watch TV. While these are good things to do, you may find that you don’t have as much energy and time as you think you will and you eventually make compromises on your guidelines.
At some point in their lives, your children will probably watch some sort of television program. This won’t ruin their lives or hinder their development, but too much TV might prevent them from doing other enriching activities. The question is, “How much TV is a good amount?”
Babies and TV
Children under two years of age aren’t able to fully process television because it contains too much confusing stimuli. They aren’t able to make sense of the colors, music, and scene changes and putting your child in front of the TV when they’re too young is a good way to overstimulate them. They also don’t have the attention span to sit down and watch a TV show, so it’s pretty useless to sit your infant in front of the TV in their walker or playpen.
The best thing you can do for your child when they’re very little is to put on some music instead or give them toys to get them to entertain themselves. Not only is this healthier for your child, it will also give them the tools to entertain themselves when they get older.
TV for Toddlers
For toddlers, the same guidelines also apply. TV is just to stimulating and as they get older, a common thing is for children to believe that the characters on TV exist inside the television and this can blur their sense of reality and cause confusion. However, quality television programs that teach educational things like ABCs, numbers, and even basic reading skills aren’t too bad.
In moderation, these programs can help teach your children valuable skills. Also, they tend to use less color and don’t change the scenes too often, which can prevent overstimulation. These days, scenes in T.V. programs change every few seconds. In programs like Sesame Street and other PBS shows, the scene stays in one place for up to 5-10 minutes.
Other than small amounts of educational programs, babies and toddlers shouldn’t watch T.V. at all. There are lots of things you can do to entertain your child while you take a breather. If you can help it, don’t plant your child in front of the T.V. until much later. Even then, limit the intake because it causes a whole new set of problems for older child over the age of two and three.
Source: Pantley, E. (n.d.).
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