The way it would work is this. I'll introduce a topic and then ask for you to share your thoughts and experiences. You don't have to have kids to participate. The thing is, I really need your participation. Without it, it just becomes me on a soapbox being preachy and no one needs that. (There are plenty of other blogs out there if that's the type of thing you're looking for.) So, what say you? Are you with me?
Hmmm. That wasn't a resounding, "Yes" but, what the hell? Here goes!
The issue is: Television. How much is too much?
It's hard. Before I had kids, I had very definite opinions on the issue. Today, I still have strong opinions, they're just not nearly as black and white as they used to be.
In many ways, television is my crutch. It's what I let my kids do when I want them to leave me alone. It's like processed food - it's just so darn easy. Sure, it's mostly high calorie, low nutrition, but sometimes that doesn't really matter. Sometimes, it just needs to be quiet.
According to Nielsen Media Research: Kids aged 2-5 average more than 32 hours a week in front of a TV. Kids 6-11 spend a little less, about 28 hours per week, presumably because they're spending more time in school.
That seems like a lot - I mean it's more than 4 hours a day. As I sit here and mentally calculate the amount of time my kids spend in front of the T.V. I'm horrified to realize that that's about right. I sink deep into mommy guilt. A thought occurs to me. Maybe it's not so bad, depending on what they're watching. I mean, my kids watch the food network while I'm cooking dinner, now, instead of more cartoons - (Thanks Tara for the idea! It's a great one.) I haven't cut down on the amount of television they're watching, but I've certainly increased the quality. Surely that matters.
The American Association of Pediatricians says no.
Pediatricians should urge parents to avoid television viewing for children under the age of 2 years. Although certain television programs may be promoted to this age group, research on early brain development shows that babies and toddlers have a critical need for direct interactions with parents and other significant care givers (eg, child care providers) for healthy brain growth and the development of appropriate social, emotional, and cognitive skills. Therefore, exposing such young children to televisionprograms should be discouraged.
Still, educational programming can have a positive effect on a child's language development.
Studies have found that children at 30 months of age who watched certain programs (one study focused on Dora the Explorer, Blues Clues, Clifford and Dragon Tales) resulted in greater vocabularies and higher expressive language whereas overall television viewing (including adult programs) has been associated with reduced vocabulary.
In an article found in New Scientist, Ariel Chernin and Deborah Linebarger at the University of Pennsylvania, US, points out that..."it is not the amount of viewing that matters but the content of what is viewed". They suggest that parents should encourage kids to watch quality, educational programming.
So, what do you do? For me, it comes down to being aware that every time I plop them in front of the T.V. I'm making a choice. Sometimes, I'm comfortable with that choice, other times, I'm not.
Tell me what you think. Please. I'm posting early today so that you all have a lot of time to read and respond.