I started a new page on my blog today. It is called KIDS & Parents. My daughter loves to play in the computer, but she gets frustrated when it doesn’t do anything. I’ll be listing websites that help toddlers learn to love to play with computers. For instance, I remember seeing somewhere where an object grows 10 times in size when it is scrolled over. I think something like this would be excellent for my curious toddler.
Now I want to talk about a sensitive topic: Toddlers and TV. I’m just going to be sharing my views here, and I’d love to hear yours too, whether you agree or disagree. I think it is okay for kids of any age to watch tv, so long as the programs are age appropriate, the parents are watching the programing with them, and viewing time is limited.
It should be obvious at this point in my post that I let my daughter watch TV. We find the following programs very educational: Super Why, Word Girl, Blue’s Clues (only with Steve, not with Joe because I didn’t want to confuse her), Word World, Thomas the Tank Engine, Theodore the Tugboat, Between the Lions, Zula Patrol, and Veggie Tales. These shows focus on teaching language skills (abc’s, phonics, vocabulary), science concepts, and social skills. They teach these concepts though trial and error, practice and repetition, music and movement. And they don’t drive me crazy yet.
I’ve think that the above programs can teach my tot things I cannot, by showing her situations that are outside of our everyday experiences. It can be argued that books can do the same thing, but my active and independent toddler won’t sit still through an entire book unless she is the one in control of the pages. It is very difficult to read to a tot who likes to be in charge. However, she cannot hold the TV upside down or turn the page before I finished reading the first few words to her. If she changes the TV channel, she gets something like CSPAN and brings the remote to me to turn her program back on. Through TV, she is learning to read, even though she does not have the emotional maturity to let me read an entire book to her. Like many TV tots, she has a large vocabulary, that is growing every day. She can also recognize about 5-6 (capital) letters, most all of which are printed on my favorite T-shirts. I cannot credit TV for this. We play a game where she will point at a letter on my shirt and I will say the name of the letter out loud. The next time she points at the letter, I am quiet and she will tell me the name of the letter. But I see that her learning is reinforced by TV shows that review letters with her.
My daughter only has 2 musical books. She loves them both, but I am happy that many of the shows I mentioned earlier include music. She started singing at about 14 months. Now when she is happy she will sing to me and when she is fussy, I sing to her. Music definitely calms her down. I like to include the Alpha Pig version of the ABC song (from Super Why) in addition to the Twinkle, Twinkle standby.
My husband will watch different programs with her, because he is the fun one. They watch parts of Dinsey’s Hercules and Tarzan, and even High School Musical (this caught me by surprise, but the music held my tot’s attention). They will also watch The Amazing Spider-man and Chaotic. These shows are are rare treat for them both. I think non-educational programing should always be an occasional treat. Limits are always up to parents. But there should be limits on all activities, not just tv.
We probably watch more TV than we should, but I am very proud that when one of her shows is on the tube, she can ignore it, choosing to play instead. I’ve always felt sorry for kids who can’t focus on anything but the TV if it is on when they walk into a room. And I guess when we get right down to it, that is why I let my daughter watch TV. She is growing up in a society where she will be bombarded with the next generation of cyber-networking. She will hear me say things like Twitter, Facebook, webcams, cell phones, Bluetooth, blogging, World of Warcraft, chatting, e-mail, distance learning and surfing the information superhighway and think, “Mom, you are so old!” I want to give her the ability to tune it all out, turn it all off, and curl up on a cold night with a book and a blanket and relax. I cannot wait until she is old enough to think of TV as a kid thing and realize reading is the doorway to unlocking her dreams.
May every child be so fortunate.