Tuesday, 31 August 2010

Is TV Bad for your Children?

I've posted about this before; so has almost every other parent-blogger. And earlier this morning, there was a fascinating discussion on twitter between @AlyBean, @Urbanvox. @WhimsicalWife and @CafeBebe about the rights and wrongs of letting the moving television screen work it's magic on the infant mind.

For something that's hardly been around a hundred years, television seems to have a lot to answer for. Does violence breed violence? Does passive viewing breed passivity? Is watching telly responsible for the epidemic of obesity? We all know about 'lies, damn lies and statistics' and you can find a statistical correlation between any one of the above if you're really looking. But then, you can find one that links childrens' shoe-size to vocabulary, but it doesn't mean the big feet cause intelligence. Or vice versa.

As an avowed disciple of the 'everything in moderation' school of parenting, and being aware of the danger of forbidden fruit, I let Charlie watch quite a lot of telly. Of course, what's 'quite a lot' for me may be totally different to you which is another problem. Kids aren't lab-rats, and measuring the impact of TV in controlled conditions is fraught with difficulty. So let's consider why, instead.

For a start, I don't think there's anything wrong per se in a bit of passive entertainment. And being glued to the box - far from always being  a bad thing - can be shown to aid concentration. Second, I regard CBeebies as an excellent learning tool. It's entertaining, sure - why shouldn't learning be fun? It's passive while you watch, maybe. But it inspires all manner of activity, from baking cookies to learning Makaton. Charlie's favourites - apart from shows with trains and buses - are Auntie Mabel's 'Come Outside' and Justin Fletcher's 'Something Special'. And personally, I'd be happy if David Cameron made them both compulsory. (Only joking - I'm a web-footed liberal at heart...)

So how much is too much, in your view? Or is it all bad? Would you be worried if your two-year-old watched so much telly that they learnt the theme tunes off-my-heart? Where do you draw the line?

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