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by Sarah on March 15th, 2012

How much TV a toddler or child should watch is a really important subject for all parents to be aware of. I used to swear that Lily would never watch any, but after her being sick earlier this year, and TV being one of the easiest ways to soothe her (we’d lie together and watch C Beebies), I started to notice its benefits. If I switched it on at five o-clock, I could get things done. Quickly, quietly, no interruptions.

Now, while I see the attraction for parents (and for kids), I think it all ties in with my post about being selfless or selfish. It makes your life easier as a parent, it may on some level seem to make your child happier (or just easier to deal with) but it appears that the long term effects are detrimental.

Here are some interesting points:

  • “The first 2 years of life are considered a critical time for brain development. TV and other electronic media can get in the way of exploring, playing, and interacting with parents and others, which encourages learning and healthy physical and social development.” Kids Health
  • “Children who consistently spend more than 4 hours per day watching TV are more likely to be overweight.” Kids Health
  • “Kids who view violent acts are more likely to show aggressive behavior but also fear that the world is scary and that something bad will happen to them.” Kids Health
  • “TV characters often depict risky behaviors, such as smoking and drinking, and also reinforce gender-role and racial stereotypes.” Kids Health
  • “Over the past sixteen years, working with thousands of different children, it has become glaringly obvious to me which ones watch a lot of TV and those that don’t. Children who do not watch TV or those that watch a minimal amount, such as once or twice per week, generally have more advanced imaginative skills. Rahima Baldwin Dancy, author of ‘You are Your Child’s First Teacher’,assures us that, “Children who do not watch television will still play games with their friends involving TV or film characters, whose nature they can easily pick up from the plastic figures.” The difference lies in the internal process of play. The imagination of those who have not seen a particular film will be far more active and original”. Helen’s Blog
  • “TV viewing numbs your kid’s mind as it prevents your child from exercising initiative, being intellectually challenged, thinking analytically, and using his imagination.” Raise Smart Kids

Trust me, I fully understand the feeling of wanting to get things done, or to have some time to yourself, and of wanting to put your child in front of the TV so that they’re distracted and entertained. But as you can see above, it really isn’t doing them very much good at all. My Baby Group teacher, who is an Occupational Therapist, recommends that if your children are going to watch TV at all, it should be no more than half an hour day, preferably half an hour once or twice a week. And I guess if they’re going to watch something, make sure that it’s a programme that they’ll learn from, like “I can Cook”  or “Mr Maker“.

I’m taking up the challenge to make sure that Lily watches TV no more than half and hour twice a week and I hope you’ll join me in that?

PS. Thanks Ask a Mum for the image.

From → Life's Lessons

  • Karien Hurter

    We’re also planning to be pretty strict with screen time, and then I read this article ( It’s not about tv time, but I thought it was a very interesting take on screen time. 

  • Anonymous

    Thanks for this, Karien. Very interesting reading! I think the author is spot on when she says it’s the passiveness of “watching” a screen that’s the problem. When they’re creating, at least it would be stimulating their mind and their imagination.