As watching television means they are not playing with a parent or engaging with or developing motor skills through playing with toys. This was released way back in 1999, but re-released by the American Academy of Pediatrics in October, 2011. I’m getting this information from this New York Times article.
This topic is a sore spot for many parents because television is such a great distraction for a few vital minutes while mommy/daddy need to accomplish something without distraction.
The reason I mention this is because I have noticed that there have been different times where Thomas has gone through periods where if he sees the television he won’t tear his eyes off of it unless we block his view with our hand or physically move him; then there are other times where he will seemingly ignore the television for months.
Currently we are in the stage where Thomas may look at the TV for a few seconds, but rarely does he sit and stare at it.
Around two months old Thomas would see the television and look at it in wonderment. He would stare and stare until we blocked his eyes with our hands, then he would grunt in displeasure and require a distraction so he wouldn’t fuss.
This behavior of becoming a television zombie lasted until about the fifth month. This was when Thomas could sit up on his own and really play with his toys on his own. Since the fifth month Thomas hasn’t really been interested in television. Sure he will stare at it for a minute, but he would much rather play with his toys. I’m sure this is just another phase and soon he will be back to the television zombie baby that the American Academy of Pediatrics is so worried about.
The one issue that I took from this article that I do not like is that any background noise from a television could be harmful to the speech development of a child. I suppose their argument is that less interaction with an adult means less speech interaction and that can slow down the process of learning speech. Having a TV on in the background distracts the parent and the child so there won’t be as much speech interaction going on… while I can buy this from a theoretical standpoint, IE those arguments seem possible to me, I think I have to worry about my own sanity a little bit as well.
Since I also care about myself, I leave the TV on during the day and Thomas and I play all day long. I don’t plant him in front of the television as his babysitter by any means but he may watch a combined 5 minutes of TV a day, I’m not concerned about this. I’m not going to do anything that knowingly is harmful to his health, but as there are no definitive or long-term studies on any of the effects of media on children, I feel OK with how we are handling the TV.
I do worry about how much TV he will watch as he gets older but at the same time I look forward to enjoying cartoons with him. Catch 22 I suppose.
Have thoughts on this topic? Please leave a comment and share them!
(Our living room, which we just re-arranged to be more open for when Thomas starts crawling/walking)