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"Oh, you don’t let your kid watch tv?"

“Oh, you don’t let your kid watch TV?  My kid loves tv, I sit him in front of Elmo and let him zone out on it like, all day.”


Which is why I am writing this post, and sharing something that Andrew and I decided for Finley very early on.  I have been thinking about writing this post for a few months, but have put it off for fear of sounding pretentious or lame, but the more I thought about it, the more I realized that our decision was no more than a compilation of various bits of information I had gathered, and I was thankful for the information.  I thought, maybe someone else might be too.  Plus, it’s my blog about our life, so I can write about what I WANT!  ;)

Finley doesn’t watch TV, even though I am a recovering TV lover and addict.  My family watched so much TV growing up, it was crazy.  My mom loves tv and can recite all the old tv theme songs at any moment.  When I first moved out with three girlfriends, we had a tv, but no tv, not even basic cable.  I remember HATING it at first, especially in the mornings.  I would just want it on, to hear the people talking, to just have the sound, sometimes it felt more lonely without it.  But, as the months went on, I found myself not missing it.  I filled my time that had been more for passively watching tv with other things, and I must say, it was better.  Looking back, this was a time in my life characterized by the beginning of some of my deepest and best relationships and friendships.  This really could be due to the initial loneliness of no tv forcing me to fill that void with actual people.  Who would have thought! ;)

When Andrew and I were first married, we again had no tv.  “What do you guys do at night!?” people would question.  Sometimes I wouldn’t know how to respond, but the truth is,  a lot.  We would do all sorts of things; long walks at night where we would have the best conversations, make special dinners together, having game nights with friends or just each other, we had more time for sports or group events.  People would ask us if we watched a certain show, I remember particularly we would always be asked, “OH MY GOSH, do you guys watch Lost?!” by an eager friend, ready to discuss.  When we would roll our eyes and say, “No, we don’t have tv,”  The response was always, surprise, and “Oh, that’s cool,” as they looked for someone else to discuss what seemed like the excitement of their life.

When we moved to our new apartment, Andrew set up a tv connected to a computer so we could watch Hulu shows through it.  So while we still don’t “have tv,” to be honest, we now watch shows.  Especially now as new parents, once he’s asleep, we can’t go out and about like we once could, so we have a couple shows we enjoy together.

But Finley doesn’t watch tv.

We are very careful about it.

In fact, if we are watching a show, and he wakes up, we turn it off before he comes into the room.

Sound crazy?  I know, to us too sometimes, but from what little I have learned about the effects of TV on babies, I think it’s worth it, I’ll tell you what I’ve learned.

1.  “Education DVDs” and tv shows are big sellers for babies, a study of kids who watched educational dvds versus children who had no tv as babies showed that the kids with no tv scored significantly higher on language and vocabulary tests than those shown the “educational dvds”
I was totally shocked to hear that at first, but it was explained that children and babies learn language by engaging and participating in it.  By facing their care givers and hearing and seeing and responding to language.

2.  In an average hour, people will say 938 words.  Unless the tv is on, then the average number of words spoken in an hour is 0.  Yes, 0.  And studies say that 30% of homes “always have the tv on.”

3.  Babies 6 months old and younger watch on average 30 minutes of tv per day, which also increases their likelihood of developing ADD.  (Oh, WHAT!?!?!?)

4.  Play is a crucial part of human development, it’s not just for fun but it is actually critical.  It is said that tv actually prevents children from playing. 

5. The University of Washington found an unfavorable link between too much tv intake for children under 2 and slow language development.

This next one I think is the craziest of all….

6.  For each hour of tv a child watches, they lose 6-8 words of vocabulary.

Ay-Chihuahua.  It was that number that stuck with me, and changed me over from, “oh a little bit won’t hurt, don’t be crazy sauce, ” to, “the boy’s awake, my show can wait.”

There are also links between children’s anxiety and thankfulness connected to the commercials they watch and are inundated with.   I don’t need to explain that one, eh?  While babysitting and some random commercial came on for some ‘littlest petfriend pocket deluxe’, the kids would yell out, “I WANT THAT!” as they quickly climbed over their pile of toys they already had to get a closer look at the tv.

I don’t know, maybe I’m extreme.  Like I said, I watched a lot of tv growing up, and here I am, right?  Nor do I feel like tv will never be a part of my child’s life.  One day we will totally have family movie nights, etc. but for now this is our family’s life.

Not to mention there are some crazy things on tv.  My goodness, I don’t really need to worry about filtering out these crazy people “coming into my home” through the tv, teaching my children all sorts of things about life.

So, the reason I’m sharing is because A.  this is what we do, and I actually love it.  I love our life, and our play time, and our relationships and family memories we make and create. and B. because I think a lot of manufacturers try to market their products as “educational” and thus well-meaning parents put on a dvd for their babies not realizing.  I think that is true of the young woman who’s quote is at the top of my blog.

“Oh, you don’t let your kid watch TV?  My kid loves tv, I sit him in front of Elmo and let him zone out on it like, all day.”

She is a young mom that I met at Stand Up For Kids who had a son the exact age as Finley.  As we discussed parenting, tv came up and she shared how much her son loved tv, and how he could watch it all day.  In that moment, what could I say to this young 17 year old mom?  My job was to serve her and make her feel loved, not judged or told what to do.  So I write this now in the stead of saying anything then. 

For further reading, here are some articles about the subject:

Study: Screen Time Bad for Baby

Baby Einstein Recall

Vocabulary and TV

Health and TV: “It’s worse than you think”

Also, check out the American Association of Pediatrics, they have A LOT of articles about this very subject.  They even counted the amount of beer and wine commercials an average child views before they are 18.  There website is aap.org

So, how to close.  If you and your baby watch tv, maybe you are annoyed.  If you feel like you don’t want your baby to watch tv, but you watch a lot now, just know it’s hard at first, but then you’ll love it.

Promise!

{ 9 comments… add one }

  • Joanna November 8, 2011, 3:22 am

    I would love to know your opinion on movies such as signing time and Sight words for kids? Not babies but kids 2+.

    Any thoughts on that?

  • Lou November 8, 2011, 3:45 am

    Have to say I think it is fabulous if you have made the decision to keep Finley away from TV. During my training as a Nursery Nurse we had to study a lot of child theorists, and it is a well documented fact that when children watch too much tv or play on pc’s or games machines, a portion of the frontal lobe of the brain (I forget which part exactly) does not form correctly and can have quite a dramatic effect on the child’s development, and we are not just talking vocabulary here!

    I think that at the end of the day I am more of an ‘everything in moderation’ kind of gal. Through my experience as a Mum for the last 21 years (god is my daughter really 21 now!!!, I have learned that to completely deny a child something is not always the best thing to do – I remember having a huge argument with my Mum after I bought my eldest son George a toy gun. I could see her point – I did not want to encourage my son to play with guns. However, George had been asking for a toy gun for the longest time, and we were at the point where every toy he had was somehow being turned into a gun because he was completely obsessed with having one! So anyway, I gave in and bought him a toy gun – within an hour of having it, lego had returned to being just lego, cars were back to being cars and the toy gun – that was abandoned on the carpet – obsession over!

    My Mum argued that I was wrong to get him one in the first place – my point and I believe it proved very valid, was that once he had one he lost interest in it, and it held far less of an important position in his young mind! To me this was the best solution to the dilemma and one I have stood by when asked for advice at work by other parents!

    Finley doesn’t need tv at his age – life in itself is far more exciting. However as he gets older you may decide that there are certain things that you will allow him to watch. The trick is to not allow the TV to become a crutch to help you parent.

    A I sit here now – there is no TV on in my house. George and I are in the lounge hanging out together, and Steven is playing on the XBox with my youngest Henry. Henry is whooping, Steve’s ass at golf – and yes it is a games machine, but time is limited and it is a little Dad and son time at the end of a long day, and at the end of an even longer time apart over the last 6 months, so I am not going to kick up a stink!

    Lou :-)
    x

  • Kate November 8, 2011, 5:53 pm

    good for you! this was our plan with our first – we caved at a little before a year – it was harder b/c we had tv. in all honesty she was far ahead of her age group for vocabulary & still is – our son who never saw a tv until he was 14 months old – but was quickly introduced when he came home (but their tv is VERY limited) is ‘normal’ for his age – but i think overall it is a good rule to have. especially for babies…..that being said – our youngest has made it to 4 months so far with no tv, but with homeschooling and everything else going on I am sure she will see a tv before she is 2 also. I think if it is limited it doesn’t necessarily hurt, but it certainly doesn’t help (just like for grown ups!)

  • Darcy November 9, 2011, 11:14 pm

    YEAH YOU!!! I took TV away from my family 15 years ago!! I raised four children by myself and without a TV. I sat down with them one night and watched what was going into their heads. Next day, I literally pulled the plug. I hate the way our society profiles genders – especially girls. I was raising three of them and knew body image was going to be hard enough with media they can’t escape, I wasn’t going to have the negativity coming from within my own home. For so many reasons, getting rid of it was one of the best parenting moves I ever made. Like you, my daughter and I (I only have one left at home – she’s 16) watch a select few shows on HULU. My kids grew up building forts, having mud fights, reading, writing and TALKING TO EACH OTHER. GO TINY TEAM!

    I’m new at this blogging, following, commenting thing so I’m not sure how to respond to the ‘select profile’. I’ve recently started a blog of my own – family interests. Check it out! http://www.darcydrayce.com I’m finding out I can’t ‘follow’ sites without having a facebook or twitter account. I don’t have either, but I’m bookmarking your site to return to. I have two daughters and one son with very young children who might enjoy your site – will spread the word. Nice site, great content!

  • Clark Family November 10, 2011, 4:32 pm

    Hi friend. Just enjoyed reading. :) And wanted you to know, You’re a truly lovely Mama. Love you dearly.
    Kacy

  • bailey November 11, 2011, 2:24 am

    im a new follower from the friday blog hop, i hope you can follow me back at
    http://baysbooks.blogspot.com
    thanks

  • The Rosenau's November 11, 2011, 2:18 pm

    Good for you! That’s something id like to try because sometime my toddler watches alot of tv, and in the end i feel guilty because i feel like i do it so i can do what i want to do…it’s kind of like an instant babysitter. But i know where your coming from and in the last month we have scaled way back on her tv time. Plus i think there only little once…you can’t get a day or an hour or a minute back.
    THanks for such a great insight!

    Julianne
    http://www.sewfantastic.blogspot.com

  • Laurabudcody November 11, 2011, 3:28 pm

    Go You!! We are the same way with our son, and have been since he was little but, I think we need to cut back ourselves in the evenings when he’s sleeping. Baby steps!! haha

    Following, from Hop Along Friday :)
    http://pandaandgiraffe.blogspot.com/

  • Kim@Chubby Cheeks Thinks November 12, 2011, 8:02 pm

    That is awesome about the choice you made! I would definitely get a lot more reading time in! :)

    Thank you so much for linking up for our hop! I’m your newest follower! Would love if you would stop by when you get a chance! :) Hope you have an awesome weekend!

    Kim
    Chubby Cheeks Thinks

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