What I have to say may shock you. It sure as heck shocked me. I don't think TV is all that bad for kids. Now before everyone gets up on their soapboxes and pulls out the virtual tomatoes, please let me assure you that I have done my homework. I have read all the studies that children under two should not watch television at all and children over two should only watch very limited amounts. I agree with the studies, and I certainly don't dismiss their findings. Still, for some reason that I can't figure out, I don't feel that TV is the enemy. The Boy just turned two last weekend, and he certainly falls into the age category of children who should not be watching TV. I would be lying if I said that he didn't.
We haven't gone whole hog, here. The Boy is in fulltime daycare, so he doesn't watch it then. But every morning when I wake him up, we take a sippy cup of milk into the computer room, sit down on the bed, say hi to Patty from Kids CBC and watch about twenty minutes of Arthur, Pinky Dinky-Doo, or Go, Diego, Go. It's a nice, relaxing way to greet the day. Sometimes The Boy watches the whole time. Sometimes we read a couple of books from the ever-present pile on the bed. Sometimes The Boy just explores the piles of "storage" in the room.
Often, after dinner, The Boy will ask to go downstairs and watch Treehouse. I don't like to make a habit out of it, but the reality is that from 6:30pm till bathtime at 7pm, Treehouse is often a part of our evenings. I know that the time could be better spent playing, but after a full day of work, a half hour trek from the daycare where we're singing songs and pointing out signs, after making dinner together and sitting down to eat and talk, sometimes, I'm just plain tired. And sometimes, I think the Boy is just plain "played out". Wouldn't you be after a manic day of play at daycare? That's hard work! I think that it's okay to just chill out. Maybe veg a little. And when I feel that it's getting to be too much of a pattern, I just tell the Boy that Treehouse is sleeping because it is very tired, and we should find something else to do. The Boy seems to accept this as natural. It won't work forever, I realize, but it does for now.
The Boy is not glued to the TV by any means. He'll watch a bit, then go play, then come back and watch whenever he hears a song. I don't use TV as a babysitter, but rather as another activity. When we watch TV, we watch it together. We learn Spanish with Diego, and answer his many loud questions. We parrot motions with Four Square. We sing along with Hi-Five. We learn to jump with Grover. We talk about what's happening. I try to make our TV watching as active and interactive as possible.
Our TV watching does have limits. We don't watch TV with commercials. We try not to watch between 8am and 6:30pm on the weekends, although I have broken that rule on occasion. (That rule goes to pot when the Boy is sick..) Once the Boy is aware of the concept of time, he will be limited to one hour of approved TV per day (with special exception for "Mommy Movie Days" when we go out to movies just the two of us..I can't wait for that!). There will never be a TV in his room, no matter how much he begs and pleads. To show my commitment to that, there is not even a TV in our bedroom, and never will be.
I also try counter this habit with a print and imagination rich environment. In Casa Earth, books abound. In fact, they run rampant. They are literally falling out of bookshelves. I think the Boy has almost as many as his parents, and we are avid readers. Magnetic letters crowd the fridge door. We point out city signs on walks. We visit the library. For toys, we eschew the battery-operated for the imaginative. The Boy's current faves are a drawer full of spoons for "digging snow", the vintage Little People castle with the trapdoor and secret rooms, and the Little People garage with the slide and elevator. (I tried to get the vintage one, that doesn't make gas and phone sounds, but got outbid on Ebay). But I digress, and now I sound like I'm justifying my actions. Maybe I am.
My point is, I realize that many people have very strong opinions about this subject. I do too, but right now, I'm just trying to go with the flow, and do what works for us. I really hope that I haven't "ruined his future" and "destroyed his brain", because, well...that's gonna suck. I guess I'm gonna have to deal with that later. I don't purport to be an expert on anything, especially motherhood. Mostly, I'm just trying to make it through the day with my love for The Boy (and my sanity!) intact. Is that so wrong?