Perpetua over at Our Lady of Perpetual Breadcrumbs has started a weekly “thing” called ControverSunday, wherein those of us who are interested can all talk about controversial things–we’re starting with parenting stuff for the time being, but may branch out into other topics. This is my attempt at sounding even 1/2 as intelligent as the ladies over there.
This week’s topic is on television. Which, as luck would have it, is on my mind a lot lately. See, a few weeks ago, someone we know mentioned that they had read that exposing infants to television could lean to brain damage. Any kind of television, any kind of exposure. Something about their brains not being able to process the speed at which the images move, or something like that. I’ve heard a lot of theories about television and kids, but actual brain damage was research I hadn’t heard about. And if so, Jackson is pretty much screwed.
At 5 months old, Jackson loves to watch TV*. He will stare at the TV, pretty much no matter what is on–sports, cartoons, Lost, you name it. But we don’t put TV on for him. There are no Baby Einstein videos, no PBS, no Nickelodeon. He watches what we watch–because he is where we are, and we like to watch tv.
I’ve mentioned before that I am a TV junkie. Well, having a baby didn’t change that. When he was a newborn, and eating every two hours for 30-45 minutes at a time, TV was a way to help keep me entertained and/or awake. While I was on maternity leave, it was a companion to help keep me from feeling isolated from the rest of the world. As he’s gotten older, we watch TV while he plays on his mat, or in his chair. And while I’ve begun to limit when we watch certain things, it’s usually more due to the loud/explosion-y nature or the “Mommy and Daddy need to concentrate to understand what’s going on” (hello, Lost) syndrome, than to any thought that we’re corrupting the kid, or harming his little brain.
Now, let me clarify here, just for my own sake. Despite what it sounds like in this post, the TV isn’t constantly on around the kid. Often, it doesn’t come on until after he’s in bed (see the aforementioned Lost reference). It’s rarely on during the day when he’s with his dad. And he doesn’t always care when it is on, as he’s too busy being tickled, or playing with his music box, or watching the cat or trying to eat his feet.
But, when it is on, I really and truly don’t think that the 2-3 minutes here and 5 minutes there of TV that Jackson sees is damaging. I pretty much think he likes the colors, light and movement–which, really, doesn’t seem that much different than a LOT of the baby toys I’ve seen. We don’t turn on the tv as the babysitter while we do stuff at this stage, but honestly I don’t think there’s any harm in Baby Einstein** when he’s a little older so dinner can get made or laundry done.
As the kid gets older, I fully anticipate that my thoughts on television usage will adapt and change. But in a generic, overall kind of sense, I don’t think that TV is inherently dangerous or bad. I think, like with most things relating to kids, it really kind of depends on how you use it, what kind of kid you have, and how you monitor it. But I reserve the right to change my opinion completely if the kid someday wants to watch Barney.
*To be fair, the kid also loves to stare at my iPhone screen, the computer screen, the laptop screen, and just about anything with light and color. So, you know, there’s that.
**For the record, I don’t think Baby Einstein has any genius making properties. However, I think it’s age appropriate and visually interesting to babies. So while I think the claims to intelligence are bullshit, I think they’re fine for what they actually are–entertainment.
Tags: baby, Mommyhood, tv