T Rex Family

T Rex Family

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Ruminations - Kids and TV

Ruminate: to turn a matter over and over in the mind.

Continuing my series on my ruminations.

A comment by a dear friend who read my last Ruminations posting is actually what sparked these thoughts. It made me realize after detailing how T Rex goes on and on about Toy Story and even reciting the movie line by line that it implies that he watches a ton of television. So it got me to thinking about how much TV he really does watch and how much he should be watching.

We don't actually get any live TV channels - we don't have cable or even an antenna. We simply don't have time for TV and honestly, there is not much on that I am all that interested in seeing. If so, we wait for it to come out on DVD and either rent it or buy it. In fact, sometimes I'm a little out-of-touch with mainstream culture because of this. And often don't get jokes or even know what's going on with the celebrities. Gosh, I can't even tell you the last time I saw a commercial. T Rex has never actually seen TV - only shows of our choosing.

When T Rex was 6 months old, we had to start giving him nebulizer breathing treatments due to wheezing. It would become a daily ritual to keep the wheezing from occurring. The only way we could get him to not struggle was to put on a show. Thus, we started letting him watch 15-30 minutes of Baby Einstein videos each day only during neb time.

I really wished we could adhere to the American Academy of Pediatrics recommendation that children not see any TV until age 2 but it was our pediatrician that actually suggested the shows to get through his breathing treatments. I was trying to avoid it, but in the end settled for some controlled video viewing in as little quantities as possible.

Since T Rex turned 2 we've been more liberal about his television viewing. This is in line with the AAP but not more than "1-2 hours of quality programming per day". Again, it's usually something during his breathing treatment and usually one of just a few things: Veggie Tales, Toy Story, or Finding Nemo. That's about all we watch around here. We always know exactly what he is watching and the content thereof. And he nor his sister will most certainly not have a TV in their room when they are older.

So what about T Rex Princess? Well, there is not a whole lot we can do about her viewing. If she's awake and T Rex is watching a show, then she wants to watch, too. Probably why our viewing of shows lately has dropped significantly.

Lastly, when it's show time, it's show time meaning the show is not on for background noise - it's to be watched or be turned off. Music is the alternative if he wants something to listen to something while playing with his toys. And in fact, we almost always have some soothing music or talk radio on during the day - helps me to maintain my sanity.

So why are we this way? Well, there is some suggestive information of a link between autism and toddler TV usage. The studies are ongoing but there is definitely some solid evidence that it's just better to interact with your kids than have them sit in front of the television.

I will say, though, that sometimes I wonder if all these folks that write these "recommendations" actually have kids. I say this only because sometimes the only way I can get through making dinner safely without anyone getting a hand burned on the stove or oven is to put on a show, have the toddler take a break on the couch, and watch Larry Boy.

Stepping away from my soapbox, I think there are two points. One, my son does not watch an excessive amount of TV unless you consider 30 minutes a day (during breathing treatments) or 90 minutes on Saturday mornings too much. And this starting at age two. He is just really good at remembering lines from movies and sometimes books (he can recite "The Quiet Cricket" nearly verbatim). And secondly, as with most things, do it in moderation. The same goes for TV - know what your kids are watching and don't have them watch too much.

What are the TV viewing rules in your house?


Kim said...

I don't think that T Rex's ability to remember lines from the movie are correlated to the amount of TV he watches. I think that at this age they really are like sponges as is often said of toddlers. Deaglan can recite lines from books I've only read him once or twice. I bought him a book by Sandra Boynton called Opposites at a garage sale and only read it to him in the car before we started home from that garage sale. I really have never picked it up again because there is no story to it. To this day, he still grabs the book and remembers it's title and says "Opposites mommy". I think a little TV is really okay. I also consider that to take them away from everything our culture is about is not doing them any favours for their immediate future when they will be at school interacting with kids who are allowed to watch some TV. The last thing I want for my kids is for them to feel like they are on the outside looking in.

I responded to Secret Agent Woman on my post about crying it out. I just don't think I'm being a good mom with absolutely no sleep. I feel like I have tried everything else. I am still using Hogg's E.A.S.Y. and her sit there till baby falls asleep as well the dream feed. But I physically can not keep trying to get him back to sleep every hour all night. I would love it if he slept with me in the bed but he rejects that too. It's a difficult point I'm at.

Kim said...

PS what a great picture this is of their feet. I just love it!

zombiemom said...

You are such a good mom! I only wish I had done my "homework" as well as you have when my first was born.
I definitely think T-Rex is just a smarty. That's what I meant about my little girl. That she can only see something once and remember it forever. I used to hate it when people assumed it was because she watched too much TV. She was just like T-Rex, be it a book or a movie or a song, she would soak it up really fast and remember it really well!
HOWEVER- The reason I got so mad when people made that assumption, is because I was very conscious of such things with my second child because of not being with my first.
You are so smart about the TV in the bedroom thing and about using the TV for background noise. I learned the hard way with my oldest one. It took forever for her to be able to sleep without the background noise of either a TV or Music player. (When the CD player died, the TV worked). At the time, I thought I was being good just monitoring what she was watching and how much. But not "when" she was.
I think you are doing a great job with your kids T-Rex Momma!

Emily said...

I love your ruminations. And obviously your little guy is just a genius, like his mother.

We also don't have TV at our house...we watch a family movie together on Friday evenings. I give the kids a choice during the week...they can either watch a learning video or play PBS kids online for 30 minutes each, 3 days a week. Sometimes they want more...sometimes they don't even want that much. Sort of depends on the weather outside...if ya know what I mean.

You are a wonderful mom...don't ever forget it!

septembermom said...

T-Rex is a smart little boy who is doing wonderfully because of his attentive, thoughtful caring parents. I have to follow your example and limit my kids' TV. Too much Spongebob is on in my house these days.

Jenners said...

This was a big issue for me as I'm not a huge fan of TV. That being said, I do see the benefits ... I need some down time. I try to limit what he watches ... but my plan to not make him too obsessed with TV has worked quite well ... he doesn't really watch all that much.

My husband would leave the TV on all the time (that is how he was raised) but we made an agreement that it is only on if someone is watching something specific. Otherwise it is off. When I'm home, it is almost never on.

Now as for computer time ....

Julie Kieras said...

TV watching is a HUGE concern for me... probably b/c it is SO tempting when you're tired to just "flop" - my husband and I actually cancelled cable for a year and were quite happy then we got a "great deal" and put it back on... however, now I'm in the mode of NOT watching it so I probably turn it on less than 1x per week. Now... kids. Different story. So far, Asher has been in the ROOM while we're watching TV, but playing in his bouncy seat positioned so he can't see the TV... he just recently has started craning his neck to find out what we're doing, so we stopped even doing that. I am trying to hold off till the 2 year point as well. Although I read ANOTHER study that said wait till age FOUR! I'm with you - HOW am I supposed to get things done without 1/2 hour of uninterrupted time!? But then I think... what did moms do 50 years ago?? I'm not really sure. Maybe I'll have to talk to some Grandma's about that! :) On a positive note, the reason TRex is probably so GREAT at memorization is that he HASN'T watched a lot of TV so his brain is probably more active, letting him learn easier! Right? there's also connections with attention span issues with toddlers who have too much "screen time" so, keep it up, you're doing a great thing for your kids by limiting TV...

Jason and Claire said...

We don't have cable or an antenna in or house either. My mom always calls me to talk about some current even and I have no idea what she's talking about. I'd really be in the dark without talk radio. I think they have a perfect amount of TV in their lives. I know it's frustrating to have your princess watching it because her brother has it on. The more kids I have the harder it gets to have a different set of rules for each one of them. You're right. TRex is just super spart like his mom. It's not because he's watching too much TV. Also, I thought your comment about wondering if the people that make all these recommendations actually have kids made me laugh. I've thought that so many times!