There is so much bad press about TV viewing. The recommended amount of TV for children under the age of two-years-old is none; according to the AAP, American Academy of Pediatrics. Experts state that an infant or toddler under two should be geared more towards activity and exploring of their environment during this crucial point of their development.
The Official Journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics even went so far as to perform a study of 872 children from the age of infancy up to three-years old, to gauge the benefits of television viewing on their vocabulary. The test recorded a multitude of information such as: how long each child viewed television daily, race, whether they were breast-fed or not, economic status of the family and more. Then they tested the children’s vocabulary at the age of three. Their conclusion was that TV viewing held no benefit to the children’s vocabulary growth at all, on children tested at age three.
But, others, mostly parents, state that there is much benefit to be had from small doses of learning shows, such as Sesame Street; which help to teach kids early reading skills through song, dance and other visual aids. Most feel that small doses of learning-based television viewing helps youngsters to identify with key characters as a cookie towards encouraging further learning. The ability that children have to learn best through repetition, song, visual and acting are aided, they feel, from such material. So as long as parents are diligent in their job of monitoring their children’s viewing habits, instead of using it as a tool for babysitting, then it should be utilized for youngsters as a learning tool.
So who’s right? Well, it is hard to argue with research that has spent tons of man/woman-hours in compiling; not to mention tons of funds. Maybe there isn’t truly any real benefit to knowing all the favorite “Barney” songs by heart as a youngster; or being familiar with Elmo and his new letter of the day, new feeling or the unique members of his neighborhood. The AAP’s information could definitely benefit those who use television as a substitute babysitter, maybe. So it is important to take and absorb it for what it offers.
Does that mean that you should never allow your child to become a fan of “Barney”, “Sesame Street’s” Big Bird, or “Dora the Explorer”? No. It is like all other advice offered up on how to raise your children, from Dr. Spock’s book on up, realize it exists utilize what you wish and keep what works. But in the end, you as a parent are the one responsible for the rearing of your children and knowing the facts are always important. So if you feel that small-doses of TV as a learning tool are okay, go for it. Barney happens to all parents at one time or another and… hehe… should be experienced by all as a rite of passage. Don’t you think?
Reading truly is a treasure worth spreading around to our children. Being a mother of three and having worked in my own daycare/preschool for years, the benefits were proven daily. But there are many learning tools that parents can utilize in their quest for aiding early learners.
By Christina Lane