Tuesday, 27 March 2012

Do our kids watch too much TV?

Sometimes I will admit to feeling quite guilty about how much TV my children are subjected to.
Our TV is nearly always on...... God I do feel bad, but they don't always watch it, it is on in the background whilst they play, there are times when we are outside and I come in an the TV is still on, no-one thinks to turn it off, or is it that they aren't aware that it is on?
Occasionally they watch it, glued, taking everything in.
Is it really that bad?
Our days are regimented. We get up, have breakfast, do the school run, come back home, walk the dog and then nap time. The TV is on in the background, Worm is a real CBeebies fan, the other two were not, they preferred the Disney Channel and Nick Jr. But it is there. I am aware that it is there. Ask me a question about any of their programmes and I have no idea. Ask moors-daddy and he can tell you what happens next. Do people (children) watch TV in different ways? Do some absorb everything whilst others are oblivious to it? Why does the thing the corner have to be on all the time, is it the noise that we like, because I am sure as hell not fond of some of the programmes on it!
Can I make myself feel a little better about it.

Can I argue that children learn from the TV?
When I think back to what the children's programmes were like when I was little there is no comparison. I remember very little, Playschool, Rainbow, Tony Hart and Morph, Blue Peter, but for young children, there wasn't much. Playschool and Rainbow were it really, when you think now, they have a choice of channels. Is there too much? Is it a case of find any programme and watch for the hell of it.

My argument for kids watching TV is that most programmes these days are educational. There is such a wide variety of programmes that every child will find something they like, and can learn from. Whether it be about safety from Fireman Sam or learning numbers with the Numtums, all programmes, it would seem now are there for a purpose.
Beanie was a late developer, we just assumed that it was down to his prematurity. At 2 and a half his speech was very basic, he could say mumma and dadda and a few words that were clear enough to understand but the health visitor was showing concern for his speech development. He had already been recalled at his two year check for his physical development, so it wasn't a shock that he was slightly delayed. At three his speech as improving a lot and was much more recognisable. He was 3 in the December and in the following February we were playing in the lounge.
He had asked me to play Pirates with him, so I did. I sat on the sofa pretending to steer the ship, Beanie is stood in the lounge swaying, when he turns to me and moors-daddy and says, "mummy stop - we are going through the doldrums". My mouth hit the floor, I stared at moors-daddy, whose mouth was also wide open. We were speechless. Where had he learnt that word? We asked him what it meant, expecting him not to know, but he just looked at us as if we were stupid and said "it's when there's no wind!" Disbelief!
We phoned both of our fathers, they are both very historical and nautical in their knowledge and so we assumed that they must have said it at some point, both swore blindly they hadn't. He knew the word, had put it into context and knew what it meant - at 38 months, when his speech was delayed!
It wasn't until about twelve months later, when early one morning, moors-daddy had left for work and Beanie had snuggled in bed with me. I put the TV on, in an attempt to get some extra sleep, when all of a sudden Beanie leaps up in the bed and shouts at me "that's where I learnt that word". I came to, to find The Backyardigans on the TV, on a viking ship and things start to click into place. I watched a repeat later in the day and sure enough they go through the doldrums. I was amazed!
Worm is another example, he has talked gobbledegook for ages, he has some recognisable words, mummy, daddy, nanna, ta, his brothers name, but not much else. Last week (21 months) he was sat in the lounge (in the dogs bed) reading his books which he does a lot, when he started counting from five to one, along with Special Agent Oso. Again myself and moors-daddy looked on in disbelief. I repeated "five" and Worm counted, four, three, two, one. Amazed again. We have not taught him at all, but he knows it and in the last week this has progressed to going one, two, three...... usually on the swing and slide, followed by "Go!"

So is TV bad for kids, yes if they are there glued to it all day, every day or watch programmes that aren't appropriate to their age, but in my eyes no way, they learn so much from it, stuff you wouldn't necessarily expect, but it does educate them and so in moderation, with a lot of outdoor play, walks and  other activities (craft etc) there is nothing wrong with a bit of telly!


  1. Did you read the guest post I did about this? I totally feel the same. My son watches telly-more than I would like him to but thats because I do need to shower and go to the loo occassionally and if the tv wasn't on at those times he would want to come too-no ta. I think people who preach about kids watching tv need to bore off, kids love tv like toys and walks and parks. Everything in moderation I say!xx

  2. I have gone through the same dilemma a few times of late as my daughter watches it more and more. I am 32 wks pregnant tho and that is my excuse! Plus I agree with Chloe, us mummies do need to pee sometimes!

  3. I'm like you ... we spend a lot of time out of the house but when we do, cbeebies tends to be on in the background. CK doesn't sit and watch it but glances at it as we play. He's a massive Mr.Maker fan. Don't ask me why.

  4. My household sounds VERY similar to yours! I had a friend who did the PR for Charlie and Lola and she said everything at Cbeebies was educational/developmental in some way, which appeases my guilt. I fear the same cannot be said for bloody Nick Jr and its endless adverts.....BUT that's where Ben, Holly and that Pig reside, so on it goes.

    I always console myself with the thought that I love my children dearly and alas, there are many children in the world that do not have that. I think the kids are alright.....