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.

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