AAP Updates Statement About Young Kids And Television

As you know, some of us at IBC are not always huge fans of studies.

This article is a good example of why.

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) released a statement this week that kids under two not be watching TV. They suggest it can delay language development, cause sleep problems and potentially lead to the growth of a third eyeball.

Okay, no third eyeball. But you get the point.

Apparently some television is okay if parents watch it with them.

I don’t know about you all, but doesn’t that defeat the point? I don’t turn on the television because I think my children are going to start writing complicated mathematical theses along the wall – I do it so I can quickly pee, change laundry loads and possibly take down a couple of swigs of coffee that I’ve already microwaved four times. If it’s a really good day, I may get to check my email. Not answer it, mind you, but at least look to see how many people I’m ignoring today.

The AAP says there can be some benefit to limited television, but kids have to be old enough to understand it, which is considered to be over age two.

The article continues:

All in all, instead of spending time in front of the TV, young kids are likely better off spending that time engaged in unstructured play, which promotes creative thinking, problem solving and reasoning skills.

Well, yeah. We all know we’re not supposed to let the TV babysit our kids. It’s certainly not my preference. In fact, forget Mary Poppins – I’d love to have a hot “manny” who provides a perfect mix of intellectually stimulating playtime, physical activity and then calmly soothing my kids with stories as they doze to sleep after a bath time that doesn’t involve half of the water from the tub ending up across my bathroom floor.

I have yet to hear a good list of alternative solutions, especially for parents on their own with their kids. Let’s face it – Sometimes, stuff has to get done.

So until my lovely childcare daydream emerges, my parenting might will need a little bit of a crutch. I’m okay with that. Aside from not understanding why Dora and Diego have to yell all of the time, my daughter now knows my Spanish than I do from that 25 minutes.

What do you think? Are these studies overblown? How do you use television in your home, if at all?

And, if you have managed to keep television from your kids’ schedule, how do you do it?


  • Sue Peterson

    Thank you for writing this!  I am one of those embarrassed, guilty parents who doesn’t like to talk about TV watching with other parents because my dirty little secret may come out.  I do think its interesting that recent studies show major differences in the impacts between shows like Sponge Bob Square Pants (which btw, I do not let my daughter watch…I can’t stand that show) and Caillou (which I do let her watch and she begs to watch).  So, I take some small bit of comfort in knowing I’m not letting her watch the worst of the TV she could be watching, but I feel ya…how would I get ANYTHING done without it?  She does her share of independent play, but can’t be doing that for 10 hours a day…and I can’t play with her for the other 8 hours a day…I think all these studies are by people whose kids are in day care all day long.  Right?!?

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  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1160597936 Faith Wyatt

    Oh man, I absolutely HATE Calliou. I don’t understand how a whiny, bratty little kid can be good for kids to watch. I noticed that they got a new kid to do his voice, but its still too whiny for me to bear. I throw on Nick Jr or Playhouse Disney for my 3 yr old son when I’m working from home. I’ll give him his legos when he wants to be near me or let him doodle on a white board or something. I still feel guilty for not paying enough attention to him at times though. 

  • http://teammamamia.blogspot.com Mia B

    You gotta do what you gotta do.  My kid knows about reversible change from sid the science kid (WAY better than whiny Caillou!), loves sesame street and has no extra eyeballs.  He’s four, has amazing language and social skills and is an all around wonderful kid. Everything in moderation.

    • http://www.itbuildscharacter.com ChiMomWriter

      Caillou makes me want to punch myself in the face.

  • ELee

    My son has been diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder.  He actually benefits from watching TV, DVDs and music.  He has been able to use phrases from the movies or shows as a means of communication.  He really only speaks in single words or phrases from shows or he sings songs.  He gets therapy and even they use music therapy along with his usual types like speech, language, behavioral, etc.  He doesn’t always watch it when it is on, but he does repeat the phrases from his favorite shows when he is upset, and it calms him down.  Interestingly enough, he has begun to use various phrases in appropriate situations to actually communicate effectively!  He labels and fills in the blank, too.  :)

    • http://www.itbuildscharacter.com ChiMomWriter

      That is awesome that it’s been able to be a tool to help him communicate and calm himself. Definitely goes to show that there’s no one “right” way to do things.

  • Spongebobfan

    Spongebob is my 3-month-old’s “favorite” show… and I couldn’t be happier. It’s a friggin’ riot!

    BTW, your statement about the pee break/laundry/reheated coffee was like a glimpse into my life! Hilarious!

    -Mom to a future genius/comedian

  • Jmengolia

    Wow! Spongebob has really gotten some bad publicity! I honestly don’t know the significance of watching 1 show over the other, but I am not embarrassed to say that my kids wtach Spongebob on a regular basis. My son who has Tourettes with ADHD and my daughter have both been on Honor Roll at least 2 out of 4 9 weeks. Don’t get me wrong, I push any activity that needs brain power more than T.V. watching power. Maybe it does depend on the age. I don’t know….They have been watching it before this study came out and have done just fine. I guess i just have more to worry about than Spongebob.

  • OApril1973

    As a single parent I have my nearly  2 year old watching  TV A LOT. I am very selective in what she watches and super happy that Netflix has BabyFirstTV. She has that and PBSkids on the iPad also. She also has MANY educational aps on the iPad. She isn’t even 2 and knows what a parallelogram is!!! I don’t even know what that is! And she know the difference between a hexagon, octagon, and pentagon. Again, I don’t even know! She has learned SO MUCH from watching educational programs! I could not devote every second of every day to teaching her. Plus, I only speak English! And on my single parent without a job budget… I cant afford anything else!

    • Glawhead

      Your a single parent with a budget but you managed to buy an iPAD FOR A TWO YEAR OLD?? Must be nice. Thet me guess, you are on assistance too.

      • Glawhead

          correction “LET ME GUESS’

      • http://www.itbuildscharacter.com ChiMomWriter

        I dunno… With the sitter rates around here, I think I’ve bought a couple of them iPads several times over!

  • Mamadawm68

    I think the AAP is a bunch of stuffed shirts that do not live in the real world! As a mother of two children, one with autism spectrum disorder (Aspergers) and one with ADHD, television has been a life saver for my family! Both of my children have been exposed to television from an early age via Nick Jr. and not only have either one of them not grown a third eye, my son, the Aspergers wonder kid is working above his grade level, and my daughter is in an IB high school to earn college credit in her junior and senior years (up to 30 units) and skip her freshman year all together. She is also learning Chinese. Hhhmmm…take THAT AAP!!!

  • Karana77

    My 2 1/2 year old watches Spongebob. Has been from 6 months old. NickJr is the go to channel in this house. I know every theme song and sing them to myself (Lord save me!) quite often.

    She also knows all of her colors, counts to six without prompting, has a vocabulary that I didn’t see in her siblings at this age, and is basically wicked smart. She does watch a lot of tv, but can always play when she wants and I always try to interact with her and the show throughout the day which is why I know all the theme songs.

    Tv can be bad or good, it’s all in how you use it.

  • http://www.facebook.com/amylee.blanks Amylee Blanks

    As the mom of two children that are now 17 and 20 years old, I can tell you that television is not the evil to end all evils that I have been hearing about since before I had kids. They both actually watched television before they were even a year old. Disney’s Beauty and the Beast came out on VHS when my son was about 6 months old and I can remember him ignoring me to watch the movie when I would be trying to interact with him. Not all of it, but the parts he liked ( the musicals)… And at 9 months of age he would wake up in the morning, stand up in his crib, and yell “beast, beast” to wake me up! I think it was his third word, lol… Both of my kids are well adjusted, intelligent, thoughtful, considerate, polite, and healthy :-)

  • mamae

    i don’t pay attention to all the “studies” – we simply don’t own a tv. 
    my 2, 6 and 7 year old children are capable of entertaining themselves when need be.
    i don’t care if your children watch hours of tv – or know some spanish from dora/diego.  no need to justify what you do with your own children.  for us, it’s just a personal choice not to have a tv – we just didn’t ever watch it.

    • http://www.itbuildscharacter.com ChiMomWriter

      I’m jealous – Truly.

  • MrsJennyB

    My three year old daughter talks like she is 6, and we lovvvves the tv.  It’s almost always on in the background.  Sometimes her and her 5 year old brother sit and watch all day (like you said, I got stuff that needs to get done)  and sometimes they ignore it and play all day.  I don’t think it’s bad at all.

  • http://vinobaby.com vinobaby

    Sorry, I already know I am not the perfect mom.  My kid is planted in front of the tv each night when I cook dinner. When he was a baby he sat in his walker and watched Baby Einstein. Hey, I figured I was saving him from potential kitchen burns he would have received if he was crawling under my feet or wraped across my chest. He’s just fine. An A student with and excellent vocab.

    • http://www.itbuildscharacter.com ChiMomWriter

      So true – We would be living on cereal without the TV. Period. My kids will play on their own – but when they feel like it, not on demand.

  • Zoeadrienne

    I have two kids, ages 3 and 7. About a year ago, I canceled our television service. I’ve found that my kids DO find other things to occupy and entertain themselves, and would argue that I actually get more time to do the things I need to get done. Now, my kids are more likely to help me put dishes away, carry laundry upstairs, and pick up.

    We still have a television and a DVD player, so they watch an occasional movie (maybe once or twice a week) and we also have a wii (which they play maybe twice a month…maybe). Most of our time is spent is spent in the kitchen and dining room with the radio. We have a variety of musical instruments- piano, guitars, violin, recorders, flute, clarinet- that they probably wouldn’t have picked up if the television was on.

    I’m a believer in no tv, or at least keeping tv to a minimum.

    • mamae

      since mine have had limited exposure (and not having a tv in the house) – they’ve just learned that certain things have to be done – they can help if they’d like, or go find something to do.  believe it or not, they all love to help in the kitchen and to fold laundry LOL. 
      so, while i don’t judge people with their tv viewing – i’d just like people to know that living without one can be done – and it’s pretty easy, too.

      • http://www.itbuildscharacter.com ChiMomWriter

        That’s very cool. Like a lot of things, it comes down to what the kids are used to.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Barrett-Lyon/1385381013 Barrett Lyon

    There was a great balanced article on Slate.com recently by Farhad Manjoo that cites studies that looked at what kinds of TV kids watched (educational vs. others) and what other activities they participated in besides watching TV. The article also makes the point that if you’re reading the article, and I would guess that also goes for the parents who read blogs related to parenting, the AAP is probably not worried about the amount and/or quality of TV in your household. 

  • Emeraldeyes1820

    I have to say that my daughter, at two, could count in Spanish thanks to that big headed shouting Dora. At one point, I had to call a spanish speaking friend to see if she was making up words, which she wasn’t- my two year old was indeed speaking to me in Spanish. Its not all terrible, like everything else television watching should be in moderation.

  • magneticequator

    I have 3 yr old twins & like one commenter said, I find that long term, not having a TV in the house has benefited both my ability to get things done and in helping the kiddos develop the ability to play together and work things out independently (huge!). It has deepen their interest in helping us out as well. We watch Dora/Diego 2 or 3 x/wk on a laptop and keep it as a treat. When it goes on, our kiddos turn into zom-babies! Its an amazing tool to keep for restaurants, visiting guests, or writing articles when on dead line. Moderation & supervised content. That said, being a single parent &/or those in lower income brackets bring a new element to the discussion.

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