November 28, 2010 4:52 pm

Television Habits

Those of you with babies (or tiny people who used to be babies) – do they watch any television?

I ask because we don’t have TV. I mean, we have a television, one that we use for the Xbox and other gaming consoles and to watch DVDs and VHS tapes, but we don’t get any television channels.

We are, however, hopelessly addicted to various television shows and movies via Netflix Instant and sometimes we like to watch those while the baby is awake. This means that Wesley is constantly trying to sneak a peek at the TV and we are constantly trying to prevent it because the AAP says we should.

It seems to me – after reading blog posts and Twitter and BabyCenter and other parenting-related stuff – that many people aren’t very bothered with trying to adhere to this recommendation. I mean, at Wesley’s age, my brother was setting his baby up in front of the TV with the movie Cars because “it’s the only thing that keeps him calm.” I saw a post on BabyCenter where a mom had stumbled across the AAP rec and was flabbergasted that her baby shouldn’t watch TV, and was incredulously asking commenters if it was true that her 4.5-month-old shouldn’t watch shows with her and how they could even expect her to manage that. My mom assumed that Wesley’s daycare just let him watch TV all day.

So. Lots of people are not very concerned with limiting screen time for babies.

I still can’t really imagine setting Wesley up in front of a video, even if it’s one of the semi-educational Baby Einstein-types. I am totally not above using the TV to get something (a shower?) done and I expect that I will end up doing it at some point, but right now he seems so little and it would feel too weird.

I am so curious what other people’s thoughts on this are. Do you actively prevent your baby from watching TV? Do you not mind if they passively watch it (catching a few minutes here or there) while you are watching? Do they watch shows with you? Do they have a favorite video they like to watch? Do tell.

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  • Amanda says:

    As with everything else, I think “everything in moderation”.

    It’s unreasonable to expect parents to spend 24/7 providing stimulating and hands-on activities for their children. How would you get anything else done? How would you go to the toilet, take a shower, cook meals, pay the bills, have some ‘mental health’ time?

    If having your child watch half an hour of TV a day means that you can keep the rest of the household running, I don’t think that’s going to ruin your child’s cognitive ability for life.

  • Vixx says:

    To be honest, I didn’t limit Sam’s time limits, but I did limit what kind of programmes he was allowed to watch.

    Like Amanda, I believe in everything in moderation. I don’t believe that TV is necessary for very small babies, and like Amanda I think there’s some very good, positive, nuturing programmes for kids that help with their cognitive development. The issue is trying to find them in the rest of the crap on TV. :P

    He probably did passively watch what we used to sometimes, too – again, not much, but I’d be a liar if I said that he didn’t.

    Now he’s 7, he has a great attitude to TV, and will turn it off if there’s nothing on that he fancies. Which I think means I did okay! :P

    V xx

  • Melissa says:

    We normally have TV (usually CNN) on as background noise, but Andrew really doesn’t pay any attention to it. Even if we sat him down in front of it and put Sesame Street or something like that on, he wouldn’t watch it for more than 2 seconds without going off to do something more exciting. I never knew there was an AAP recommendation to not allow any TV, but honestly, I don’t really pay much attention to any of that stuff anyway. I do what works for me and I’d never stick Andrew in front of the TV just to keep him entertained (if he was the kind of baby to sit and watch) anyway.

  • Jem says:

    I love that you guys have guidelines on TV. I don’t think we have that in the UK. XD

    Anyway, I decided when I was pregnant that I didn’t want the TV to babysit Isabel for hours a day ’cause I’ve seen kids glued to the box 24/7 and it ain’t pretty (but those are pretty OUT THERE cases). With that said, I agree with Amanda re: everything in moderation (although I manage all of those things she mentions without TV ;)).

    When Izz was born I’d started listening to the radio in the day and it wasn’t long before we kinda just dropped TV completely. We cancelled the TV licence to save money while I was on 0 pay at the end of my maternity leave too.

    We get a couple of DVDs in a month and very occasionally watch catch ups on BBC iPlayer/etc but this is generally after Izz has gone to bed. It’s not because I don’t want her watching but because she *won’t* watch and therefore I wouldn’t get to see it in peace ;)

    Izz has been exposed to TV at her Grandma’s and just isn’t interested. I don’t know if that’s because we don’t really watch it at home or because she just isn’t a TV kid. Will be interesting to see how she treats it as she gets older.

  • Audrey says:

    Kids watching TV is fine, as people have said, in moderation and with at least some supervision. I have a lot of fond memories of watching cartoons, Disney/kid movies, and experiencing the enjoyment of TV both alone and with family/friends. I think there’s a clear distinction between letting your kid watching TV and allowing the TV to watch your kid for you. It’s the latter that’s scary. I think reading and creative play should be a much bigger part of the kid’s entertainment time.

    Disclaimer: I’m not a mom at all. Just my observations here.

  • the grumbles says:

    hummm, ok… what do we do… around 6 months we had our cable turned off, so we stopped just having the tv on all the time. during jude’s awake play times we don’t really turn it on that often. sometime we’ll put on a movie for us or jon will watch football. we’ve never really made a big deal about it because jude doesn’t like to watch it, he gets bored and goes to play with his toys. so, limited-ish? i guess it would be different if he was really into watching it. if we put on a kids movie or show on for him he’ll watch for a few minutes and then he’s over it.

    we DO watch cartoons and yo gabba gabba with jude on my phone though, as a treat, and he FLIPS OUT. now i have to hide my phone because he thinks it’s a toon machine and oh he loves the toons. we try to keep it only a few times a week for 15 or so minutes just because he gets OBSESSED.

  • Lewis says:

    To a baby I can’t see there being much difference between a brightly coloured television screen, a brightly coloured book, or a brightly-coloured play-mat.

  • Caity says:

    We are the same way. No TV just a projector hooked up to game systems. I think it will be that way at least for the foreseeable future. I think as long as there is some sort of stimulation and interaction with a child that is the important thing no matter what the medium is.

  • erin says:

    Neither of my kidlets really watched much tv when they were younger. Cody is a year now and he doesn’t ever really watch it, mostly he plays with his toys. It just doesn’t interest him.

    Jas watches tv, but she’s also four years old. She never really watched anything until she was around two and a half and discovered Dora. These days she like Diego, Land Before Time, Muzzy, and Pingu (watch it on Netflix Instant, totally adorable!). We don’t have time limits per say but we don’t let her watch tv all day either. Usually just a show or two at a time.