All of these blog and facebook posts about the amount and type of TV that a young child watches has me thinking… does Jo Jo watch too much TV?
I watched a ton of TV as a toddler and preschooler. I had a single mom who worked and went to nursing school. Nick, Jr. was her babysitter sometimes. I watched show after show, and I also slept in my mom’s bed until age 7, so I watched all of her grown-up shows with her at night. If she went to a movie, she brought me and covered my eyes during sex/violent scenes. The recommended screen time today for toddlers is 30 mins/day, and 1 hour/day for older children. I exceeded that by far as a kid, and yet I was an all A student, involved in every orchestra and band available to me as well as a competitive pianist, I read novels by age 6, and preferred reading to practically any other activity. I wrote poetry through my college years, was financially responsible, never arrested, never did drugs, never overweight, got my black belt in karate at age 25, and have traveled to Europe and Asia many times. I learned a foreign language to proficiency, obtained a college degree, and bought my own house and car. And throughout it all I watched at least an hour to two hours of TV per day, and spent countless more hours per day online. Shouldn’t I be an obese, overweight, violent blob of nothing to society???
Excessive TV viewing did NOT ruin me. It didn’t discourage me from doing physical activities. I put Sesame Street on for Jo Jo almost every day, and it runs for an hour. She gets super excited to see her favorite characters and dances to the songs. She runs around and plays but enjoys coming back and watching every few minutes. During the day I watch my own programs as I clean the house, work on projects, pay bills, etc. Shows like “Survivor”, “The Fosters”, and “Amazing Race”. This does not take away from us interacting, as I’m frequently engaged with her and her books and toys while just listening to my show in the background. I even prefer to exercise while watching something. I like to multi-task! Jo Jo also likes to play toddler games on the kindle, and I have no problem with that. She LOVES it and is learning to manipulate the characters on the screen with her fingers. She spends maybe 10 minutes a few times per week doing this, and I guess it’s more black points against me… but I spent way more time in front of a screen throughout my life and I just don’t see how it hurt me.
When the weather gets warmer we will be spending more time outdoors, but even then I will be listening to audio books as we take walks or run around the yard. When she’s older I will turn off the TV while we do activities together, of course. She will see me reading, playing piano, swimming, walking, and cleaning the house and she will imitate me. I’m not at all worried that she will be sitting around in front of the TV, but if she is like me, she may be able to balance TV watching with other activities. If she can’t, then we will adjust screen time and go from there.
I guess my own experiences are influencing me more than studies, but we’ll have to see how I feel as Jo Jo gets older. If she begins to only want to watch TV instead of doing other things, then I will limit her viewing time. Until then, I’m not sure if making mountains out of molehills is doing anyone any good.