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RedPowerLady's avatar

What do you think of putting a child under the age of two in front of the TV?

Asked by RedPowerLady (12571points) May 16th, 2010

Do you think it’s okay if it’s only a couple of minutes while mom washes dishes?

Do you think it shouldn’t be done at all?

Note that the AAP says no TV watching under the age of two years old

But in researching this I’m hearing a lot of moms say they think it is okay so long as it is restricted amounts of time. Or they don’t care about the recs b/c they don’t know what else to do with baby while they clean etc..

Also if anyone can find any information on how much tv watching has negative affects then great, b/c I couldn’t find amount of time spent in front of the tv in the studies I read.

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26 Answers

faye's avatar

My girls watched tv very young because their brother was born first. they were all bright, learned easily, but we also did things as a family or they made forts of the chairs when I washed the floor. Moderation in everything.

Seaofclouds's avatar

I don’t think it’s good to just stick a child in front of the television with nothing else to do. I don’t see anything wrong with having the television on while a child is playing with their toys though. I did occasionally turn on the television to the educational programs for my son to listen to while he played (when he was younger). Even to this day, he almost never sits still in front of the television, instead he is constantly playing and doing other things. Sometimes he will watch a movie, like Star Wars, and at the same time be acting out the scenes with his action figures.

Draconess25's avatar

My mom tried that when I was little. I crawled away. I would never watch “kid shows”; I’d whine to my mom that “they’re not real people!”.

HungryGuy's avatar

I think it depends on so many factors. I grew up in a “Simpsons” household. All of us zombified in front of the TV from 6 PM onward, every day. Now, I rarely watch TV at all, except for my Star Trek, Max Headroom, Twilight Zone, Night Gallery, and Firefly DVDs (though I suspect that’s because prime-time network TV pretty much sucks these days). My addiction is Xbox games and the Internet.

liminal's avatar

The AAP suggests limiting total media time to 1–2 hours a day. They also have lots of opinions on the sort of content said media should contain.

It also may be helful to note that there is debate around studies done on media violence.

marinelife's avatar

It is bad for their vision and their developing brains.

liminal's avatar

Personally, I am glad that we eliminated all media from our home until the children reached 6. To this day (they are 9) we engage in media together and then probably not much more than a few hours a month with movies and sports. They started engaging with computers a year ago and do not spend more than an hour or so on them a week. We don’t frame this as restrictive, it simply isn’t easily accessible in our home. When they are outside our home we let them make their own choices about how they engage with media.

For us, it isn’t an issue of it being bad for our children. We think different things work for different families. In our experience tv was overly stimulating. Whenever we left an environment where tv was around they would be cranky, fussy, and hyper. In our home, making sure media has a small profile is an issue of wanting them to habituate to tending to themselves and actively exploring the world. I will say that whenever they are around their peers they are the last ones to become bored (of course this doesn’t mean limited media exposure is the reason, but I am inclined to think it doesn’t hurt.)

Is it the end of the world to have a baby watching tv while a parent does some dishes? Probably not. I would also say that it certainly isn’t the only thing capable of occupying a toddler’s or infant’s attention. They can get just as occupied in playing with water or blocks.

perspicacious's avatar

All of the studies I have read seem to conclude that infant TV viewing slows language development. My own children were not exposed to TV as infants at all. One of my grandchildren was exposed to the Baby Einstien videos as an infant. She is now five and has the vocabulary of an average ten year old. She is problematic in other ways in which I do not believe the exposure to video at the early age has any relation. I think a little of many things each day is the best idea for young children. None of us parents do everything right; we can only try to be informed and do what we think is best for our kids.

Kraigmo's avatar

Children who watch no TV (and that includes no low-quality videos, either) are generally more intelligent, more expressive, and have larger vocabularies and deeper awareness.

I realize lots of children who do watch TV have such qualities, but they’d be even moreso, without the TV.

Ltryptophan's avatar

@perspicacious mentioned Baby Einstein…that definitely seems fine to me…

Maybe some nature scenes with wild animals frolicking would help!

aprilsimnel's avatar

I watched a lot of TV as a small child. One of my earliest memories is watching a big TV with the sun streaming into the living room while I was in a playpen. I turned out all right, but when I babysat for a neighbor’s two children a few years ago as a semi-regular thing, I didn’t turn on the telly.

They barely interacted as it was, and when their mom had the TV on, they didn’t interact at all, which rubbed me the wrong way. I’d take them to the park and encourage them to play together and with other children. Or I’d read to them and play games with them.

SeventhSense's avatar

Not too highly.

RedPowerLady's avatar

@Ltryptophan @perspicacious
Baby Einstein is now being recalled. It has been proven to be ineffective. All baby videos have been proven to be ineffective. If baby’s have high vocabularies then it is a result of something else in their environment.

SeventhSense's avatar

Wait how about that “Your Baby Can Learn” series? I have no kids but I was intrigued by that.

RedPowerLady's avatar

@SeventhSense The articles I’ve read say that none of them “work”.

“No studies to date have demonstrated benefits associated with early infant TV viewing” says Professor Christakis, whose review looked at the effect that TV has on children’s language, cognitive skills and attentional capacity.


” A longitudinal study of infants from birth to age 3 showed TV viewing before the age of 2 does not improve a child’s language and visual motor skills, according to research conducted at Children’s Hospital Boston and Harvard Medical School”

They also say that this is true despite the media advertisements for baby learning DVD’s.

The first quote came from the link at the top within my Question.
The second from here.

SeventhSense's avatar

It doesn’t address the series I refer to though but who knows.
I’m such a sucker for a good infomercial. It never ceases to amaze me from Smilin’ Bob to the billion plus ab exercisers how blatant the lie is to sell anything. It’s really pretty sickening.

P.S.- I’ve bought two ab exercisers in my lifetime only to find that it takes 20,000 crunches to burn one pound of belly fat. Miracle of miracles I found out that consuming less calories is the only solution.

RedPowerLady's avatar

@SeventhSense It doesn’t address any one series in particular but rather they quite strictly say babies do not learn from watching the TV, in fact it often does more harm than good.

I know the infomercials are really good. I find myself almost calling in everytime I watch one for pretty much any item, haha. Luckily I’ve only done it once. For some makeup. It was crap.

SeventhSense's avatar

I find that study quite vague. I think it’s a generalization for all manner of programs but interactive work face to face with child in combination with video might be different.

RedPowerLady's avatar

oh wait i found something
”“The American Academy of Pediatrics has taken the position that children should not watch TV below two years of age,” says Christophersen.

He believes babies don’t need to be on the fast-track.

“Can you make a child gifted? No. You just can’t make a child gifted,” he says.

There is one aspect of the program he likes.

“If you go through the deluxe kit, it involves flash cards and things like that that involve the parents. So as long as the parents are with the kids the entire 30-minutes everyday, I have supported that for years,” says Dr. Christophersen. “But if they’re not going to be doing that, I don’t think they need to purchase the ‘Baby Can Read’ program.””

okay sorry no caps holding my own baby now

tranquilsea's avatar

Babies acquire language skills through the interaction of adults and themselves. I remember teaching my kids how to talk and we would spend hours, sometimes, on one word (in the early talking days). TV is very passive, so not much is learned in the younger years.

Now putting a toddler in front a 20–30 minute show so you can go and do something is ok in my books. Just as long as they aren’t in front of the boob tube for hours.

Kismet's avatar

I’ve actually thought of this before, for my future (I hope) children.
Honestly, I’d prefer for my children to avoid television other than maybe a children’s movie.
The “kid” shows that are on these days really aren’t all that great. I’ve been shocked with some of the material shown.

I suppose sitting the child down for a couple minutes while you do something isn’t bad, but I’d prefer to pop in a cute movie or education show (like Blues Clues or Dora). I’d like to control what my children watch.

YARNLADY's avatar

I have two sons 16 years apart and five grandsons of various ages. In my experience my younger, smarter son’s life was enhanced by the fact that he practically grew up in front of a TV. With my three (now adult) grandsons, I observed a marked difference between the one who benefited from his TV exposure – and the one who didn’t. It depends on the child.

My older son did not even see his first TV until he was around 6 and the TV was not his downfall – but his discovery of Computers was. He used to leave the school after I dropped him off, and go over to the University where students would let him use their accounts. In those days (early 1970’s), they thought it was ‘cute’ that a boy would skip school to be allowed access to a computer.

I haven’t seen enough information presented in the studies – were the children left alone in front of the TV? Were the parents paying enough attention to them? Was there a control group?

shpadoinkle_sue's avatar

There’s programming that’s constructed around the way a really young mind works. Obviously, not as a parental substitute, but I think it’s okay to use the tv with a two year old. My friend in Utah has a 1½ year old and she just loves Yo Gabba Gabba. She loves reading just as much.

casheroo's avatar

I don’t think it’s bad. My little guy notices the tv and will stare at it. He’s not “watching tv”. My oldest has shows he enjoys, and that’s fine with me. I do think he gets obsessed with it sometimes, but most little kids get really into something for short periods of time.

AZByzantium's avatar

My parents would let me watch TV, but it was always educational geared toward children (not just mindless fart jokes or magic shows). But in addition to the TV they would always put crayons and paper infront of us so we would draw as we watched (usually inspired by what we saw). It was great because it developed my artistic skills, copying skills, and I really think it helps a kid understand what they are learning from the TV and translate it into their own view. And an added bonus is it can very well be a replacement for TV so when it is time to turn it off they still have their crayons and can keep entertaining themselves.

AshlynM's avatar

As long as the shows are in good taste I don’t see anything wrong with it. And as long as they don’t sit there all day, it should be fine.

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