For the next five months, the television in my living room will remain either unplugged or set on dvd mode so that a blank screen appears when it is turned on. I have decided to follow the American Academy of Pediatrics recommendation that children under the age of two watch no television. Unfortunately, some tv-viewing over the holidays has brought out a little TV addict in my darling daughter.
I am proud that the half a dozen Baby Einstein videos I was given as baby gifts remained unopened until Caroline was 18 months old. I traveled with my dad to OKC to see my sister and took advantage of his in-vehicle dvd player to entertain Caroline on the drive. One movie would end and she would sign for “more.” She was hooked! She was given a Rudolf dvd for Christmas, so we let her watch that on Christmas Eve, and a few other times in the past weeks I turned the TV on for a minute for various reasons. Caroline has been able to turn the TV on and off for quite some time, and that is just what she would do. Turn it on. Turn it off. Turn it on. Turn it off. She wasn’t watching anything. Lately, though, several times she has turned on the TV, crawled onto the couch, and sat staring. She even did this with a house full of kids the other day. Not OK!!
I have several reasons for postponing television viewing. I don’t want her exposed to the commercialism and over-consumption portayed on commercials and in shows. I would rather have her actively involved in something *real* rather than observing something *false.* And there are numerous studies that point to detrimental effects of early television watching — increases in autism and obesity, shortened attention spans — even if there is no definitive evidence. I watched a few minutes of Sesame Street the other day. I did not grow up watching Sesame Street, but my husband has fond memories of it. I was repulsed by Elmo’s baby talk and the Cookie Monster’s atrocious grammar. This is *educational programming*? I have an on-line acquaintance who used to work in educational television programming who admits that they consciously put in the minimum amount of educational content allowed to be able to call a program “educational.”
Still, I do see the merits of educational programming for preschoolers and school-aged children. I see some of the concepts my niece has mastered from these shows. Caroline is still far from a preschooler, though, so for now, her time is best spent helping mommy, playing with friends, reading books, and dancing.