Ah, the TV questions. They’ve been floating around since I was a kid, and probably before that. How much television do your kids watch? What do they watch? Do they have TV’s in their rooms?
As much as every mom would like to say that their kids spend all day doing puzzles, reading books and playing outside, most children spend at least some time in front of the TV. Opinions vary among experts and parents alike about how much is appropriate, but most seem to agree that kids today watch too much. We have a childhood obesity problem in this country that is often attributed to the sedentary lifestyle Americans have become accustomed to, and children are more difficult to entertain without technology.
Growing up, TV was off-limits on school days in my parents’ house, and on weekends we still weren’t allowed to sit in front of it all day. Even though it often frustrated my sister and me, I’m now grateful that we weren’t allowed to spend too much of our time mindlessly watching.
My baby is only seven months old, and cannot yet follow a television show or movie. However, I do have the TV on in the house more than I know I should. Being home and, for the most part, alone during the day with a baby who can’t talk yet, I often have it on. This is not to say that I sit on the couch all day watching, but I often find the background noise comforting. And while I know that William cannot yet understand what he is looking at, I catch him looking at the screen from his bouncer, and when we are in restaurants or stores with TV’s, he often turns toward them and stares.
Don’t get me wrong – I like TV. I enjoy the Real Housewives as much as the next girl and my husband and I sit down to Netflix almost every night after the baby goes to sleep. And I know that there are times during the day, like when a mom is cooking dinner or trying to make a phone call, that it can buy you a few precious minutes without children underfoot. But I know there are many things for William to experience that I don’t want him to miss out on by watching too much TV, and I also want him to participate in more activities that intellectually stimulate him as he grows and develops.
So at the beginning of this parenting journey, I’m trying to decide how to handle this question. I am determined to turn off the TV more during the day because I don’t want William to become too used to it. But eventually I’m going to have to make a conscious decision about how often to let him watch. Just in the mornings when everyone is getting ready to leave? In the evenings when we’re winding down before bedtime? Not at all?