Why TV Doesn't Have to Be the Enemy
One father's thoughts on television and toddlers
Questioning Parental Advice
I tend to take a lot of expert advice regarding myself lightly. For instance, I don’t slather up with sunscreen every morning (rain or shine). And I rarely drink the recommended eight glasses of water every day. But when it comes to expert advice about my job as a parent, I am far less easygoing. My 2-year-old daughter, Jessica, will confirm this—she gets smeared head-to-toe for all but the briefest encounters with the sun.
But there is some expert, parental advice that I don’t follow: The American Academy of Pediatrics’ recommendation that children watch no more than one to two hours of TV per day, and children under 2 watch none.
As a once aspiring super-dad, this sounded reasonable. Today, I’m not so sure. My problem with this is that I think it ignores reality. Much like the old 55 miles per hour speed limit, I doubt many people abide. Let’s face it—where else can parents find an instant babysitter that’s adored by our kids and doesn’t charge $7 an hour?
The Great TV Trade-Off
In our home, we sometimes use TV as a parenting tool. But we don’t think of it as a babysitter; we think of it as a balance-creator. For example, my wife, Tina, is a stay-at-home mom. She loves it. But there are times throughout the day when our daughter gets tired of mom and vice versa. Television sometimes provides a break for both.
And then there are the meals that need preparing. Some evenings, Barney and his friends can mean the difference between dinner with a salad or without. Also, my wife and I will sometimes use TV to take a little time to nurture our relationship. In all these examples, our daughter’s TV-viewing time goes up, but we think it’s a fair and healthy trade. It results in happier, more loving parents and better nutrition for the family. We also believe that our daughter would vote with us, especially if Mickey Mouse was on the ballot.
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