Let me just add a disclaimer about these TV posts. Don’t get defensive. I watch TV. My kids do too. I’m not saying you are a terrible parent for letting your kid watch TV. When I talk to a mom who is looking for Disney movies because her 4-month-old just “loves” them, and ADD/ADHD and poor reading skills are rising in our country, I just think it’s a topic worth discussing. People can be touchy about this. It’s not an attack. It’s a discussion.
I let Azita watch “Beauty and the Beast” to keep her out of the way of the furniture delivery guys a few weeks ago. Right now she is watching little Einsteins on Disney. She gets to watch cartoons in the morning. This started when she finally turned two and I was so exhausted and pregnant with Ada.
This may seem like a mundane decision to many people, but it’s a big deal to me. There are separate issues at play here– television watching in general, cartoon watching, Disney movie watching… each means a little something different for me.
We managed to hold off on cartoon watching until Azita was two years old. There were some definite slip ups to that rule. We let her watch a cartoon movie when she was a year and a half old, on New Year’s Eve. And she watched Bee movie a few months before she turned two with her cousin Azaria.
I can already hear people saying in their heads, “TV is not the evil thing it’s made out to be!” I’m not saying its evil, I have specific reasons for our TV policy with our kids.
The American Academy of Pediatrics issued a statement that children should not be allowed to watch more than 20 minutes of TV a day until they are two years old. The reason for this is because the effect that TV watching has on attention span and its links to ADD/ADHD. At best, TV is passive learning and a sore substitute for all the hands-on learning a child should be doing at this age.
Until a kid is two years old, their brain and nervous systems are being hard-wired… its important to consider how we want that wiring to function best– passively sitting and being entertained, or doing and accomplishing and getting hands dirty.
At worst, TV watching before age 2 is what some scientists and doctors say it is; a risk factor for ADD/ADHD, other learning difficulties, and speech problems. Maybe it can be used once a day or so to help you get something important done, or when the kid is truly sick and miserable and you can’t read for ANOTHER hour to them.
Countless people tell us how impressed they are by Azita’s speech level– often they are friends or co-workers with children the same age. One of the cartoon issues that has been theorized has to do with the fact that children learn how to speak by watching our lips move. Cartoon lips do not move like a real persons and could possibly be confusing to a young mind.
And many cartoon characters talk like babies… this is not how babies learn to talk, by listening to baby talk.
So we held out on cartoons but Azita did watch a good bit of the food network. I realized how much she was soaking up from that, what we thought was limited exposure that she didn’t really pay attention to, when at a year and a half old, she pointed and said “Shrimp! Crab!” at the Harris Teeter fish counter!
Ok, baby’s waking up. We’ll finish this later! I’ll also add a list of show.s that I let Azi watch, not that I’m an authority. Just choices for us.