Lazy Mom’s Guide to Rationalizing Letting Preschoolers Watch The Boob Tube

Like many parents, I swore that my kids wouldn’t watch any television (or play with plastic toys, or eat non-organic fruit) until they were at least (fill in appropriate age here). It didn’t take long to use Baby Einstein videos to keep my six-month-old distracted in his pack-n-play while I ran out to double-park the car every Tuesday and Thursday. (Yes, he was alone in the apartment for five minutes. Send complaints here.)  And then I started using them to take a shower, feed him dinner, and lay down on the couch when I was very pregnant with his future Frenemy.

And once the second kid came along, it all flew out the window. I blame getting rid of cable. See, to make up for the lack of Noggin (old school for Nick Jr.), we bought a five-pack of DVDs. Dora, Backyardigans, that sort of thing.  It was great! But they had an evil feature that soon overpowered me: Continuous Play. All five shows would play one after the other to create 105 minutes of a blissful, zombie-like toddler.  That became a daily coping mechanism, and I’d run around like crazy for those 105 minutes doing all the things I couldn’t with two cherubs pulling at every limb and belly roll and boob.

Yes, I went headfirst down the slippery slope of kiddie television.

Has it hurt my kids and their potential? Possibly. They still get a lot less television than they could, and I limit it to shows that are made just for kids – not for the parents of kids. And at 5 years old, my son has been recently introduced to the Feature. Naturally, his younger sister was introduced as well…so she’s going to be stunted for sure.  But then I see this kind of stuff:

Inspired by Pixar’s Up.

We watched Pixar’s Up during the five days of rain we had during our recent vacation.

And my daughter, who has a markedly different drawing style, recently made this after seeing an episode of Team Umizoomi.

My daughter’s portrait of Milli from Team Umizoomi.

I’m not too worried about their creativity being wrapped up in that zombie stance I see sometimes when they’re soaking in an episode of Spiderman from the 60’s. I just make sure that they get opportunities to act it all out or draw it all out later.

Do you remember watching a lot of television as a young child? Did you create pictures as awesome as my kids’ artwork? (Impossible!)

About That Unique* Weblog

Adjusting to car culture, dealing with leaving a career I loved, and spouting off along the way. Do The Most Good.
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18 Responses to Lazy Mom’s Guide to Rationalizing Letting Preschoolers Watch The Boob Tube

  1. Dr. Connie says:

    Reblogged this on Dr Connie's Blog and commented:
    Food for thought . . .

  2. A while back I wrote about my thoughts on this too. Many people chimed in that you know what? My kid watches tv too. They aren’t going to be serial killers. They still love books and play. I bought the Baby E videos when I was pregnant with B and I still love them. I find that they like the background noise. They play. They do their thing. It’s not Spongebob- for starters. But PBS kids and my personal addiction to The Backyardigains is on at my house daily and I have no issues one bit.

    • Spongebob scares me. He’s a no-no in my house for my personal issues. I’m actually working on a defense of Dora and Caillou. I know a lot of people have problems with them for other reasons. 😉

  3. Lenore Diane says:

    Thanks to Netflix we have a bevy of shows at our fingertips. My kids are into Power Ranger – not the cartoon, the campy show with real people and gawd-awful costumes. (Though as I watch Batman w/Adam West, I have no room to talk.) Last night, after supper, the boys were outside throwing paper airplanes, and pretending to be Power Ranger Ninjas. That works.

    P.S. Even at the age of 7, my son will stop to watch Baby Galileo. I swear that was what started his interest in space.

  4. Kerstin says:

    I remember watching lots of TV when I was a kid. There were only three channels and I loved watching Pippi Longstocking. That was my favourite (maybe it still is). Then we’d go running around in the forest by ourselves until it was dark.
    I don’t know if I’d want to compare those times to now, it’s just changed so much.
    I have always let me kids watch TV and try to choose stuff that’s appropriate for them, while still feeling they are participating in “the world of today”.
    During school times I definitely limit any media intake (TV, computer, ipod) to the weekends – there is none of that during the week because they already do enough at school. They use the internet and ipads for learning.
    During the summer I am obviously more lenient, because sanity.

    I feel as long as they still have their imaginations and come up with drawings, short stories and poems and go out and build tree houses and don’t even ask about the internet when we’re camping, it’s all good.

  5. jenniferdorr says:

    It’s always a trade off. Sometimes you need an hour of TV so you can plan or cook something enriching for your kids. And when my kids get up way too early I always turn on the TV for hours so I’m not monster Mommy. Worth it for everyone!

  6. Andrea says:

    I can’t think of any children I know that don’t/didn’t watch any TV at all. I mean, one of my friends doesn’t even have a TV, but her kids still watch shows on the computer, which, let’s face it, is the same thing. None of the kids I know are cognitively or emotionally stunted. My take on this is that it is probably more cognitively and emotionally stunted to have a parent/parents who were so crazed, frazzled and tired from not having a moment’s break to get anything done (and also to have “that dirty/smelly” parent who never took a shower) than it is to watch a bit of TV now and then. In our case, if there were no TV, both my husband and I would be unemployed because we’d never get to work on time, which I’m quite certain would be worse for my kids than 30 minutes of TV.

    • It is so useful for those early morning rush-out-the-door times. I’ve found that the Netflix option is fantastic because there is a great variety of short, commercial-free, curated shows. Kipper is quick. Pingu is longer. Sesame Street is a FULL HOUR!

  7. Jennifer Worrell says:

    My daughter watches a little Mickey Mouse or Dora, then acts it all out in pretend when we play outside. Without TV, I’d lose my mind. Apparently, she isn’t losing hers:)

  8. Erica M says:

    There is nothing wrong with having a dirty/smelly parent! TV doesn’t occupy Ehren enough for me to take a shower especially since he can now work the pause button on the remote.

    “Is that running water I hear?” Pauses DVR to investigate.

    With the older kids “busy”, toddler Ehren and I will have the TV on in the background while we are playing with all his toys from the commercials. Did it flash before him more than once for ten seconds? We own it. I’ve now started fast forwarding through the advertising.

    Since I’ve started doing that, TV watching has gotten more fun for both of us. We like Transformers Rescue Bots, Peppa Pig and Wow Wow Wubbzy. He discovered the “new” Star Wars movies from 35 years ago and we’re now watching those. It’s something we do together and I can sneak a peek at my laptop every once in a while.

    So what if I’ve forgotten it’s probably time to teach him to read? He starts preschool in the fall. They can potty train him, too.

  9. Peppa Pig! *snort* We love her! I am SO looking forward to showing my kids Star Wars. Yay!

  10. Alias M. says:

    Great! So I’m not the only mom letting my toddler watch lots of TV and cartoons. My son watches a lot of Disney cartoons especially Cars and Planes lately. He is also into dinosaurs. I hear a lot of comments that too much TV (and iPad) is bad for kids but really, I think otherwise. His memory is just amazing as a two year old. Although he can’t pronounce the names of the characters perfectly yet, he can already recognize and remember all of them unlike me, who only knows the main characters. He can also distinguish the different dinosaurs. I prefer that I watch with him and that I get to choose what he watches, of course.

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