Babies and Toddlers Watching Television
It may seem as though television is a good way to amuse your baby or toddler while you catch a bit of a break.
However, there’s a lot of controversy about just whether or not you should let your child watch television and if you do let them watch, just how much television is okay.
There have been a lot of studies done showing that too much television can have a negative impact on the development of small children.
Following are some ideas that can help you find a balance between either no television watching and watching television in moderation.
Myths that Watching Television Makes Your Child Smarter
There are many DVDs and television programs that are marketed in such a way to make you think that if your child isn’t watching television that his development will be lacking.
For this very reason, many parents think that putting their child down in front of the TV on a regular basis is going to help make him smarter.
The truth is that DVDs and television programs won’t help teach your child language skills and tasks any better than when he interacts with you.
In fact, language development is best when it occurs naturally between child and parent.
Television and Children Under Two Years
If at all possible don’t let your younger baby watch any television. If older siblings are watching TV then try to let them watch when your younger child is napping.
Children under the age of two simply aren’t able to understand the meaning of television programs.
It isn’t until about the age of three that the visual development of your child is sufficient for him to process just what’s happening on the screen in front of him.
Experts in child development state the following reasons for keeping your under-two-year-old away from the television:
- Younger children learn best when they’re interacting with you and not trying to learn from people on television;
- It’s difficult for younger children to adequately understand the images in front of them;
- Television keeps babies and toddlers from playing with toys. Learning to play with toys is part of a baby’s development that shouldn’t be negatively impacted or replaced by television; and
- Television is a habit that can be hard to break the older your child gets. A TV should never be used to comfort, distract, or promote sleep in children of any age.
Positive Television Watching
If you do decide to let your toddler watch television then there are some guidelines that you should follow.
Put some thought into just how is your child is actually interacting with the television. Try to watch television with your child as often as you can.
Make it a rule that if he’s watching TV, then you’re watching with him. Respond to what you’re watching so that he gets some interaction with you.
When the television is turned off talk to him about what you’ve just watched so that you can get some idea what he’s thinking and feeling.
Limit What Your Child Watches
Choose only a few television shows or DVDs that interest your child. Then watch only these programs.
The more varied the shows are that you let your child watch the more confused he’s likely to be about what he’s seeing.
Limiting television watching to a few shows lets you have more control over what he’s learning.
As well, he may become bored a lot sooner with television if what he’s watching starts to become too repetitive for him.
Avoid programs that are scary and have monsters and animals that can frighten him. What your child watches on television will stay with him when the TV is turned off.
Limit Television Time
Determine the amount of time you’re going to allow your child to watch television each day. Then stick with this amount of time.
Let him know that once the program is over that the TV is going to be turned off. Don’t give in to the tantrums that are likely to happen when his visual stimulus is taken away from him.
Never have the television on as “background” noise when your child is playing in the room. Even if it seems that your child isn’t paying attention to the TV, his concentration will be reduced.
Playtime is important and should replace television whenever possible.
Turning the Television Off
There are plenty of other things that your toddler can do besides spending time in front of the television.
If you want to provide him with some type of a distraction, or a way to take a break from playing, then put on a story or music CD.
Put together a box of toys that you only pull out during those times when your child needs to be distracted or when he’s having a rough day.
The best stimulation for your child in his developmental years is you. Spend as much time as you can interact with your child by playing, cuddling, and talking to him.