It’s an age old question… Well, okay, a few decades old… How much screen time should a child get each day. However, it has become more and more prevelant in the modern world with the increase in the amount of technology available. In fact, I touched on the subject of kids and technology in general before. But today, I wanted to look at screen time in front of the TV specifically.
How much is too much? What sort of TV shows are suitable for a 2 year old? These are all things that we’ve been facing in the past few months. So, why not share our experience?
Day Time TV for Kids
As it’s January, it should be pretty obvious that the last few months have been very dark, wet and cold. I mean, it is winter after all. So the weather really hasn’t been good for our 2 year old to go outside and play in. She gets cold and then ill very quickly, as most young toddlers do.
So, she ends up spending an awfully large amount of her time within the confines of our house.
Because of this, even though we have boxes full of toys for her (and she runs around a lot), the house itself is rather dull for her. That’s where the TV comes into play. Not in the sense that we sit her down and make her watch TV all day. In fact, we do very much the opposite. We have the TV on Tiny Pop as background noise, so that there is at least some sort of entertaining sounds and other voices in the house.
Then, if she gets tired from playing and running around, she will sometimes sit down and watch My Little Pony or PJ Masks, before getting up and playing again.
We’ve found that, during the day, the TV makes the house feel more alive, and thus she ends up playing more. But I guess part of that is because Tiny Pop doesn’t really have cartoons that draw your attention very much… The likes of Maya the Bee and Miffy’s Adventures, whilst fun, aren’t attention grabbing. So they don’t detract from our daughter’s play time.
Evening TV for Toddlers
This is where we find it the most difficult. You see, our little punk rock princess doesn’t sleep early. This is largely due to the schedule she was forced to have, as my wife would finish work at 10:30 at night, so I would have to take our daughter in the car to go and pick my wife up from work. This meant that she got into the routine of sleeping at about 10:45 (usually in the car).
However, we always put her to bed at 8:30 now, after a good drink.
That’s doesn’t mean she sleeps though. Oh no. Instead, she continues playing within her room. But you see, that means that her room is very quiet (apart from her own noise). So, we usually put one of the My Little Pony movies on for her whilst she plays. That way, she gets to play with some background noise again, but by the time the movie ends, she is worn out enough to fall asleep. She also rarely pays attention to the screen, which is a good thing.
TV As Background Noise, Not The Focal Point
Basically, what we’ve found is that you can use the TV to add some extra sound to an otherwise rather quiet house, as long as you put on appropriate shows that don’t draw your child’s attention away from toys and play.
After all, play is what helps them to develop, right? So having them play, explore and learn as much as possible is definitely the best thing to do. The TV should never get in the way of the development, and certainly doesn’t replace that type of development with another. For example, I’ve heard of parents thinking that their child listening to the talking on TV would help them to talk. That’s just not going to be the case… Your child will learn from being spoken to, not from hearing the words from the TV. There’s no context to the words that way.
As such, the TV should never be the focal point of a child’s attention. It should be in background.
Based upon this idea, we’ve found that the following shows work very well;
- Sunny Bunnies – these are short, 3 minute episodes with no talking to attract attention. However, the music and sounds are uplifting, so it helps create a happy atmosphere.
- Masha and The Bear – whilst the episodes do involve talking, Masha’s voice is just high pitched enough that it becomes background noise.
- Pocoyo – we’ve just recently discovered this show, and it has a bit of voice over every now and then, but the show itself just has amusing sounds that creates an entertaining vipe.
On top of these shows, pretty much everything on Tiny Pop during the day is good for background noise without being too distracting.
And That’s All Folks
What are your thoughts on TV for toddlers? How do you handle TV screen time? What shows do you find good to have on? Let me know in the comments below.