This past week there was a news report on Brandon Williams, a 13-year-old boy who has autism who saved his friend, Jessica Pellegrini’s life by giving her the Heimlich when she was choking on a piece of apple. Of course, this was news worthy in and of itself. I was over here cheering for him and the news outlets for highlighting this young mans quickness to act and help a friend! The interesting piece to this story is that the boy learned the Heimlich on the TV show SpongeBob SquarePants.
So here I am reading this article and I realize that the the TV shows and webinars I watch always catch my 2.5-month-olds attention. She will stare at the screen for what seems like an hour straight if I let her. YIKES…I have become THAT parent…
THAT parent who exposes my child to TV.
THAT parent that took off the therapist hat because it meant I could take a break from singing and dancing to avoid her crying.
THAT parent who pre-parenthood blogged about the impact of TV on child development (from a speech pathologist’s perspective).
And I admit…THAT parent that thought it was cute that her 2.5-month-olds eyes were glued to the TV screen (we were watching The Voice) so she was totally tuned into the music, right?????
I realize it sounds silly, but while I was also laughing over how glued her eyes were to the TV, I also felt totally guilty for exposing the baby to TV. The mixed emotions we have as parents…especially when you know what the research says and want to avoid doing anything that may harm your child’s development (or is that just my biggest fear and not every parents?)
So this of course brought me to the age-old question…is TV bad for babies and children? Well, according to the research they find very few benefits, if any. In fact,the research is in favor of you being the perfect parent and keeping the TV off until your child turns 2 years of age. I know, you are thinking…SAY WHAT? Can we all just take a moment to laugh out loud here. I know there are parents that restrict TV but it seems that is less common, especially once you have more than one child to take care of at home.
As a therapist, here are my thoughts on TV time for infants and toddlers (you’re on notice, this was written 2.5 years ago pre-parenthood): The Impact Of TV On Child Development
As a parent, I am not going to lie, I read my own article and think…I am so glad I never actually told any of my clients to completely cut out TV. They probably would have looked at me like I had 3 heads! The reality is TV can be a safe distraction when you need to get something done.
So let’s say plopping your toddler in front of the TV helps you stay sane, get dinner cooked, allow you to feed your other child….you get the picture. Are you hurting your child by putting them in front of the TV? Most likely…no. But it can be detrimental if you are leaving your child in front of the TV all waking hours and letting them watch more on the iPad or tablet when on the go.
So what is a busy, stressed-out, exhausted parent to do? My advice….allow TV in moderation. If you limit it to 30 minutes to an hour when they are under the age of 2 you should be golden! This is enough to allow you to get a few must-do things crossed-off your to-do list. I know…it would be so much easier to just leave the TV on for 3-hours straight so you could get all those things done already…but the therapist in me begs you to spend an equal amount of time interacting wiht your child as your do allowing them to watch TV.
Children need face-to-face interaction. They need to be required to respond to a communication partner. They need to understand conversation and that can only truly happen through real-life experience.
It is awesome that this 13-year-old learned the Heimlich through Spongebob SquarePants, but he is 13, not 2 or 3 years of age 🙂 Just some food for thought!
So…let’s be real here…how much TV does your child watch per day? I swear, one parent to another, no judgment will be passed!