I grew up in a house where we were only allowed to watch Public Television for many years, mostly because that was the only channel we got on our TV. There were the occasional Saturday morning cartoons, but otherwise, Sesame Street and the Electric Company and 3-2-1 Contact were all we watched, until my parents had more children and eventually got cable, and then the rules evolved.
I have more or less applied the same rule to Penny, which isn't too hard, considering we don't currently have cable or satellite. But I borrow DVDs from the library (and purchase the ones we like), hence Penny's obsession with Baby Signing Time. She also enjoys various Baby Einstein discs, Yo Gabba Gabba, the Classical Baby series, and Sesame Street. She watches something every day; and asks to watch it. Part of me says, well, that's all mostly educational stuff, and it doesn't have commercials. But then I read this, from the American Academy of Pediatrics:
It may be tempting to put your infant or toddler in front of the television, especially to watch shows created just for children under age two. But the American Academy of Pediatrics says: Don't do it! These early years are crucial in a child's development. The Academy is concerned about the impact of television programming intended for children younger than age two and how it could affect your child's development. Pediatricians strongly oppose targeted programming, especially when it's used to market toys, games, dolls, unhealthy food and other products to toddlers. Any positive effect of television on infants and toddlers is still open to question, but the benefits of parent-child interactions are proven. Under age two, talking, singing, reading, listening to music or playing are far more important to a child's development than any TV show. For more information on your child's health, visit www.aap.org.
And now I kind of feel like crap. The stuff I let Penny watch is still brain candy. But come on, in the real world, sometimes I need a minute. Sometimes it's the only way dinner is going to get made. In the real world, Penny picks up a new sign every time she watches "Baby Time," or sings a new song when she wakes up in the morning.
A friend of mine, a retired teacher with a lovely grandchild of her own, told me the rule she heard was limiting amount of "screen time" toddlers get to 2 hours a day, because the visual input of the TV (or computer) develops a different part of the brain, and kids need auditory input as well, not to mention the social interaction with a warm body instead of a warm screen (which might be what the AAP is getting at with the statement above).
So that's what I'm going to shoot for, because 2 hours actually seems like a lot (I should probably get her source on that). I'm not trying to make anyone else feel like crap. But I am curious to know if any of you had similar TV rules when you were growing up, or if you have applied any "screen time" rules to your own children? Have you been successful?