Two words can have a huge impact on your life. Did you know? Since Noah learned the words for “down” and “out” it’s all I ever hear. He wants to get “down” in the grocery store. He wants to go “out” on a cold and blustery day. Now he can really make his wishes known and I can go about not granting them.
The other day Mark sent me a link to an article on Slate about the effects of TV on small children. The article made some very valid points about the findings of past studies on children and television being heavily skewed by other factors, primarily socioeconomic ones. I don’t however think their point totally negates my interest in the American Academy of Pediatrics statement that until more research is done on the effects they recommend children age 2 or younger not watch TV. In my mind LOTS of TV could be harmful to Noah, so it’s in my interest to limit the amount he watches.
This TV business is a very loaded subject. One that people have opinions, questions and doubts about on many levels. I am not endorsing no TV, some TV or lots of TV for any kid other than my own. I only know Noah and it’s my job to make decisions for him so that’s what I’m trying to do. As always, it is not my intention to offend anyone with my silly pondering on the matter. I’m just sharing my thought process along the way. And I’m interested what you guys think. The AAP can recommend that mothers dress all in blue and never use their right hand, but unless it works for us and our kids we aren’t going to follow it. So, anyway… here I go.
From the time Noah was an infant and started focusing on the TV until shortly after his first birthday, we generally didn’t have the TV on during his waking hours. This rule was partially made because of the AAP finding, but was really created so that Mark and I would not watch TV during Noah’s time. I’m kind of a TV junkie. If I’m in a room with a running television I will watch the TV regardless of the subject matter (except sports) and what I should be doing. I did not want to be home with Noah all day, barely paying him mind while I watched tons of daytime television that I didn’t even enjoy. And since Noah goes to bed at 8 pm (just in time for primetime), Mark has only 2 and a half precious hours of time with him on weekday evenings, time he needs to spend with Noah and not Judge Judy. So the no TV rule has worked really well for us in that we watch Noah and not TV, and then sink our couch potato butts onto the couch after he’s gone to bed.
Noah does watch some TV now. He knows how to turn it off and on and about twice a day he will say “tee… tee” while pointing at the television to ask me if he can turn it on. I tell him yes and then I make sure the TV is on one of the preschool channels, Noggin or Sprout. He watches a few minutes of it and then either wanders away to do something else or asks me if he can turn it off. Some shows hold his interest more than others – it’s clear that any sort of live action is much more appealing to him than animation. He prefers Barney, Oobi, Jack’s Big Music Show, Teletubbies, and Sesame Street. And I feel fairly certain that these increments of television do more teaching than they do damage. I’ve already seen him imitate noises and motions he’s seen on TV and I can totally see how good programming can be an important learning tool. I’m excited that he’s interested in that annoying purple dinosaur. Barney and those dorky kids he hangs with sing, dance, teach basic concepts and life lessons. (Sure, I say that now when I have to listen to him in ten minute increments.) I guess the struggle for me in the future is to try to figure out a good balance for TV – how much is good, how much is too much and how much restriction makes it even more of a treat.
I have two related stories. Last week Noah had a night where we couldn’t get him to go to bed until 11 pm. And it was a Wednesday! Lost night. I was so fried from spending hours trying to get him to sleep that by 10 pm Mark and I decided we were going to watch Lost on DVR even though Noah was awake. At first Noah just did other things but near the end he got up in front of the television whining to turn it off. To me he seemed generally concerned that we were staring at the TV and not playing with him. It made me feel like crap. I turned the TV off, I felt so guilty. And not about TV but a slightly similar situation- yesterday while Noah was playing blissfully with stuff on the office floor I was reading some blogs and leaving some comments. Noah came up to me and made the sign for “more.” I was asking “more what?” and trying to figure out what he wanted. After awhile I realized he wanted more me. He was asking me to get down on the floor and color with him. Again, I felt a little guilty at first. But then I thought about it and figured if he knows he can ask for me to do something with him and I’ll do it, then that is a good thing. He wasn’t letting me know he was feeling neglected, just that he was ready for some company. At least that is what I hope. We can save his disappoinment for when I won't let him "down" or "out."
So where do you weigh in on all this crap?