Now that my son has reached toddlerhood the time has come for me to experience first-hand what I've heard other parents discussing (or more like arguing over) for years...the never-ever ending debate: How much TV time is too much?

Here is the guilty party in question:

(Looks pretty innocent to me!)

I've been caught in the trap, constantly pondering whether or not I should allow my son to watch TV.  Before my second child was born (8 weeks ago-already!) I would have instantly said, "No!" Fast forward to the that I have my hands full (and I know some of you are saying, "I told you so!") I've changed my views.  I mean, what harm could a little Bubble Guppies or Dora the Explorer do?  As long as my son is learning something (i.e. Spanish from Dora) and is not ONLY interested in television, what's the problem?

Well, ask some of the experts...

According to studies, watching too much television has an inevitable negative impact on our children's development.  One study claims that toddlers who watch too much TV are more prone to developmental delays in math, an increased risk of being bullied (for real?!), larger consumption of soft drinks and snacks, and not to mention, evidence of less involved parents.

It always perplexes my mom (who raised us in the day and age when exersaucers had wheels!) how much parents these days "have been influenced by the media to over-think everything in regards to parenting."  I've heard time and time again, "When you were young I let you...(always watch TV, for example)...and you turned out fine!"  (Well, I DO have difficulty in Math! Hmm...)

Being the Type-A person that I am, I prefer to allot specific tube-watching times or programs.  That works for us and my son seems happy with it because as soon as the TV (magically) turns off (and the remote disappears!), he doesn't hesitate to jump off the couch and go find something else to do!

Here's what a regular day (minus the craziness!) looks like in a nutshell in my home:
7:30-8:00 - Bottle and morning TV shows
8:00-9:30 - Playtime (and sometimes push-mommy's buttons time)
9:30 - Breakfast
9:30-10:00 - Playtime
10:00-12:30/1:00 - Nap (or playtime in his bedroom depending the day!)
1:00 - Lunch
1:00 - 3:00 - Playtime
3:00 - 4:30 - Nap (or once again, playtime!)
4:30 - Afternoon snack and TV
5:00 - 7:00- Playtime (with sporadic minutes of time-out time)
What gives with this time of the day and the Dr.Jekyll and Mr.Hyde syndrome?!
7:00 - Dinner
7:45 - 8:00 - Bath or watch bedtime videos on the iPad (my his faves are, Katy Perry and India Arie on Sesame Street, plus "Twinkle Twinkle Little Star" (or as he calls it, "Tinkle Tinkle") which HAS to be the last song before bed!
8:00 - 8:30 - Bedtime stories and lights out!

So, after doing the math (I CAN handle this one), that's about 2 hours (including iPad videos) a day!  According to the study, I've shockingly exceeded the recommended amount of TV my son should be watching (meaning he will succumb one day to bullies and consume way too many soft drinks), but you know what? I DON'T CARE!  (There, I said it!)

I personally think my son gets just the right amount of...

independent play time,

cuddle or play time with mom or dad,

AND tube time!

You can google this topic until your fingers cramp up and you get carpal tunnel syndrome (I almost did!), but the fact of the matter is there is NO right or wrong!

The moral of (my) story is; to each his own! What works in one household might not work in another, and more importantly, as parents we need to learn to respect each others' parenting styles and throw judgement out the window!

What are your thoughts on toddlers and tube time? 

Do you avoid the television altogether, choose certain programs to watch or leave it on as white noise all day long? 

Views: 31

Tags: kids, television, toddlers


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Comment by KidsBibleAdventures on January 22, 2013 at 8:10pm

Being a parent is as much a journey as being a kid - I think too many try too hard to get it too right too often...if that makes sense! Set your rules, go for it, enjoy the moment and adjust later if need be. And put the How To be an Expert books back on the shelf!  Enjoy the next few years...wait until they're teens :-)

Comment by Lisa Codina on January 22, 2013 at 8:02pm
Thank you ladies for all the support!! I feel more confident now with my decision. I should add posts from my blog on this site more often if I'm going to get these types of responses! ;-)
Comment by KidsBibleAdventures on January 21, 2013 at 8:30pm

Hi Lisa – we made kids TV shows from 2005 to 2008, but mainly for kids 4 – 10 and always values-based so kids learned something (not a,b,c…1,2,3) but social and life skills. We were really good at it and won a bunch of awards. Now days as kids attention shifts to digital devices such as phones and notepads we are repackaging the content to interactive Virtual Worlds where kids can go on adventures and immerse themselves in entertainment and learning through role playing and games. Whether we like it or not, that is how kids learn best for a whole bunch of psychological and physiological reasons.


The difference between TV and interactive media is that TV is totally  (or largely) passive – unless it is something like The Wiggles that gets kids moving.  Interactive media by its very name gets the kids engaged and active so they are doing something and learning through repetition and at their own pace.  As content developers who engage with kids we welcome the shift from TV to device as we think it is much better to have a physically and mentally engaged kid than a blob that sits and stares.


Bottom line though, and the horribly clichéd reply is it’s all about balance.  Some TV, some interactive, some book, some drawing, some physical play…and hopefully then a nice long sleep :-)  

The temptation to use TV as a de-facto babysitter is high…why not, it works really well.  What is too much though is a question that all the experts will still be arguing about in future –experts need to argue otherwise they have no purpose!  The expert for your child is you, the Mom. You decide and don’t feel guilty if you break some other person’s so called “correct parameters”. After all, your child is going to spend his/her life in front of a screen of some sort so as long as the content is right, then why is anything wrong?

Comment by Meg, Happy Kids, Inc on January 21, 2013 at 4:59pm

You know in your heart what is best and when it's been too much.  I think we overthink it sometimes.  I usually let my toddler (4 year old) watch 1-1 1/2 hours of t.v. (when he's not in pre-school).  On pre-school days, there is usually no t.v.! He has older siblings (8 and 6) and Friday night is usually movie night.  

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