The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends no television time for children under two. They prattle on about the need for actual human interaction, developing social skills, and attention spans. (I mean, I watched tons of TV as a kid, and it didn’t affect me…ooh look, a bird!)
This message does not seem to have reached the Bronx. Or if it has, it’s gone excusively to families that I don’t work with.
Do these “pediatricians” even have kids? They’re annoying. They ask questions constantly, and they always want to run around and play. The TV is hypnotic. Turn it on, and they’re zoned out enough to allow for some sweet, sweet Mommy time.
Seriously, it’s hard for a young, single parent to avoid falling into the TV-as-babysitter trap. For one thing, when your first child is a surprise when you’re 16 years old, you don’t usually spend a lot of time googling studies about child development. Your social worker comes in a few years later to do that with you. Also, you’re on your own. You need that break to maintain your own sanity, and sometimes there’s no person available to provide a few hours of structured, robust, educational play.
But we could all do with being a bit more selective.
I have seen my fair share of “Jerry Springer” episodes playing in the background of home visits with a young mother and her four year old. The most distressing part is usually when I am the only one to flinch when Jerry asks, “Were you surprised to find out that your husband had been leading a secret double life as a fluffer?”
Not that I don’t see the appeal. There are times when I stretch out a visit for a bit longer, just to hear Maury tell some deadbeat, “You ARE the father!” And to watch that poor, rejected woman do her classy victory dance.
Then there are parents who limit ther kids’ intake to children’s television. Surely this is better, right?
I will never forget my first visit with the mother of a two and four year old. Their 128 inch flat screen was blaring, when all of a sudden the two year old dove behind me, under the couch cushions, yelling, “No Gabba! No Gabba!”
Apparently, her older sister’s greatest love was this child’s greatest fear. Yo Gabba Gabba.
Children’s television has gotten weird. The Yo Gabba Gabba monsters are pretty cute, I’ll give them that. But TV now seems to have gotten away from the idea of providing something for parents and kids to enjoy together. Instead, they’re addictive to kids, and frightening/irritating parents right out of the room.
And what message are they sending, anyway? At least twice a week, I have Dora barking at me during a visit to look for where she left her map. Maybe turn around and put in an effort yourself, Dora. I’m not the one who lost it. A little personal responsibility goes a long way, and it’s time we impart that wisdom on our nation’s pre-schoolers.
But, people tell me, kids love her! And she teaches them to say “feliz cumpleaños!”
Huh. So kids like adorable puppets who teach fun songs and are also bilingual…
Oh right. It’s been done before. Except these guys are doing it right, and have been for over 40 years. Maybe it’s because it’s what I grew up with, but I can’t imagine why anyone else even tries with children’s television. Will anything else ever be that good?
Before you answer, please watch.
It really holds up.