Most parenting literature advises against any television or computer viewing for children under the age of two. I know some parents who never have the TV on when their child is in the room, but we sure aren’t that disciplined. Tate saw some peripheral Food Network and Project Runway, not to mention that I was frequently emailing or online while nursing him.
Then right around the time that he turned one, a new study revealed that TV in moderation wasn’t so bad, and it also wasn’t so good (i.e. educational programs won’t boost your kid’s IQ).*
I jumped on the bandwagon (just as I did when they decided that peanut butter was okay again), and every so often when I’m wiped out, we plop down on the couch together to watch something on PBS or Nickolodeon.
Well, at least that’s what I would like to do. When I suggest watching TV, Tate gets excited and says “oooh, oooh, oooh” like a monkey, for Curious George. Other than the day he was completely lethargic from the stomach flu, Curious George & Sesame Street are the only shows that hold his attention. After a few minutes of Arthur, Kai Lan, Martha Speaks or anything else, he’s off running again.
So do you think George or Sesame are EVER on when I want some quality couch time? No, never! I’ve actually considered getting TiVo just so that I can have them at my beck and call.
But now, finally, I’m getting the point of my post…Tate and I were having a snack today and flipping through the Fisher Price catalog. I asked “Who’s that?”, thinking he’d notice the Ernie toy. He has an Ernie figurine and loves it. Instead he noticed the Elmo toy and said clear as a bell, “Elmo!”
What?! He’s seen Elmo on TV twice at the most in his life. We have no Elmo dolls, no Elmo books, no Elmo artwork in his nursery. And come to think of it, his ooh-oohs show that he tuned into that famous monkey about as readily.
That, my friends is marketing. They know, those children’s TV geniuses, what our children like. I’m not at all saying they’re evil geniuses, but they definitely know what they’re doing- how to connect with our children and how to make them fall in love.
It makes me a little nervous, frankly.
What do you think about TV for your kids? Love it? It’s great in moderation? Hate it? No TV in your home? I’d love to hear how you’ve handled the issue with kids of all ages.
*PS – When I Googled the televsion study, it turns out that the focus was more on the “it’s not going to boost IQ” than on the “it won’t harm them” side. This post (with a few swear words, sorry Mom!) from DaddyTypes makes me think I bought into the Baby Einstein marketing this time. Maybe I need to look into that peanut butter thing again too…