to TV or not TV, that is the question

Continuing on my discussion of doing what is “right” for the baby in our household: TV. Screen Time. Digital Media Consumption. Cell Phones. Twitter. Heck, personal websites.

Namely, how much technology is enough technology, and how much screen time is too much screen time for a child.

Everything I’ve ever read on the subject of screen time seems to refer back to some American Association of Pediatrics (and no, I have never looked up the exact study or recommendation that is all too often referenced). It states that for kids under 2, screen time should be limited to a minimum.


No maximum of XXX hours per day or week, no mention of eating dinner in an Applebee’s and having 13 TVs playing sports going. No mention of the 100-inch screen in your home theater being any worse than the 4” screen on your iPhone, even if they both play same the cartoons.

I take that to mean that the AAP feels that no amount of screen time is appropriate. That time should be spent nurturing your child with enriching activities, like playing with old school wooden blocks and reading Mother Goose nursery rhymes and possible having a discussion on the electromagnetic properties of inert gases and why ionization of said gases and subsequent photon emission is so vital in the working of compact florescent lightbulbs. (Not that I would actually talk about that last one with a one year old. That would be ludicrous.)

Well, I have news for the AAP. We have a TV in our house and we even have it on from time to time. Sometimes Brooklynn is around. We don’t watch entire half-hour shows with her, nor do we ever let the TV act as a pseudo-babysitter, as in, hey look at the flashing colorful screen!

She likes football (bright colors?) and short bits of cartoons with songs, but mostly, her attention span doesn’t last longer than a few minutes at any one time and she wanders off to do something else. We don’t encourage her to sit and watch anything and we do all of our movie watching when she is asleep.

We don’t have cable or satellite television, and considering we watch maybe around 5 hours of live TV each week, it doesn’t seem like we are missing much. We do have an internet connection and both Rhiannon and I spend a fair amount of time in front a computer screen.

Brooklynn loves our computers. I showed her a few music videos on YouTube a few days ago, and she watched and danced her little head-bopping dance along with them. Is this screen time? I would say yes. But really, she just loves our computers because she wants to bang on the keyboards. As in, BANG, how long until I permanently damage your computer, Dad?

I guess we follow the AAP guidelines more out of lack of opportunity than any real conscious effort. If we notice Brooklynn zoning out in front of the TV, that means it’s time to turn it off and do something else. And if we leave her in front of computer for too long, something bad will happen to that computer.

Good parenting by default. Although, if there were still Saturday morning cartoons like when I was growing up, I might be right there watching them with her.