Tuesday, 9 October 2012

Do your children watch too much television?

Mine don't. And I don't drink too much red wine, either.

But unlike my favourite tipple, it's difficult to quantify how much is too much where TV is concerned. Some doctors, for example, are today calling for a total ban on under-threes watching television, which seems a little extreme. Doesn't it?

I mean, telly is just so good. By which, I mean, kids TV. By which I mean, of course, CBeebies. I've written before of my admiration, gratitude and - at times - sheer relief that the quality of children's programming that Auntie Beeb continually churns out. It means I can turn the telly on in the certain knowledge that my brood will be (in the words of the charter) 'informed, educated and entertained'. Which is exactly as it should be.

Other TV channels are available, of course. But as much as Charlie loves Thomas the Tank Engine and Roary the Racing Car, we try to avoid Milkshake in the mornings for the simple reason that the programmes are punctuated by the most outrageously in-yer-face adverts. Which is a shame. Perhaps the professors should ban those?

But ban TV? Really? In the immortal words of Sergeant Wilson, 'do you really think that's, er, wise?'

Well, it's thought that the time children spend in front of a screen - whether that be a computer, TV or games console - might actually be causing developmental damage. It's certainly true (as Professor Sigman, for it is he, states) that the first three years of a child's life are among the most critical for brain development. But the evidence that screen-watching inhibits that development is rather vague, to say the least.

I've no axe to grind either for or against TV. As a family, we could just about do away with our set as Sarah and I watch so little. (Is it me, or is there really very little for adults to watch?) The kid could watch a DVD or pick and choose their favourites on iPlayer.

But I do think that pseudo-scientific scaremongering and associated headline-grabbing is about as scary as whatever it is the men (and they are, mostly) in white coats want to frighten us away from. Remember MMR?

Everything is moderation might be a cliché, but it might also be the only sensible response to the rising chorus of those who want to ban anything and everything remotely enjoyable.

I just need to learn to practise what I preach as far as vin rouge is concerned.

But then, it doesn't keep, does it? And think how much more I might get through if it wasn't for CBeebies. See, Professor Sigman? Another benefit of children's television.






8 comments:

  1. Yeah I read an article about it in the Guardian today. Segman's argument was questioned at the end. I think most would agree with "everything in moderation". My wee man at 19 months watches his favourite programmes on the computer using youtube (due to the lack of TV) and I'm afraid I find it great for quiet times just before bed where we get to cuddle together. We are now debating whether to actually get a TV you know for the educational programmes! At the minute he prefers being out and about anyway and I hope it stays that way. We certainly try to promote it anyway.

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  2. Agree TV is no great evil, however my 2 year old nephew does know all the characters from Nemo and Toy Story which worries me a little. Matilda on the other hand likes the Postman Pat opening credits, once they finish she wants it restarted :)
    And yes not a lot on TV for adults, we tend to download what we want or use iPlayer

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  3. I'd love to know how you're supposed to ban tv for under threes when they have 3+ brothers and sisters who can watch it.

    Not everyone has just one child and kids have to learn stuff in the thick of family life.

    Television is great for vocab learning, singing along and so on.

    Don't these doctors have other stuff to do than interfere where they're not wanted?

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  4. It's a balance. I credit CBeebies with having taught both my children how to count, but they also spend half their days singing the bloody annoying theme tunes.

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  5. Until we're doing exactly as we're told by all these "experts", we won't get a minute's peace. Yet another idea been thought up by someone with insomnia.

    Really, do these people have nothing important to do?

    Give parents some credit!!

    CJ x

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  6. Before I had a baby I thought I was going to turn into mother earth, never have the telly on and spend the entire day fixated on every move the baby made... Then I fell back down to reality with an almighty thud, got CBeebies on, purchased a Jumperoo and joined a wine club. Everything in moderation and all that stuff ;) but frankly unless you're relying on the TV as your children's sole source of entertainment and education I see nothing wrong with a bit if Upsy Daisy before bed time and for ten minute here and there do I can make a cup of tea or go to the loo! Lol x

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  7. TV is a godsend when your kids are under three. I'd long for Cbeebies to start so my daughter, who liked to rise at 4.30am, could be shoved in front of it and I could finish my night's sleep. But now my 8yo and 10yo are rationed to around half an hour of DVD a day because regular sleep has allowed my inner Victorian to surface!

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  8. My son seems to have become a general knowledge expert just by absorbing information from the TV such as Horrible Histories and Newsround.

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