Thursday, August 18, 2011

Is TV bad for kids under two?

According to the AAP, kids under two should be extremely limited in the amount of TV they are allowed to view. And even after they turn two, the amount they watch should be limited.

When it comes to limited TV viewing. I'm all for that. Kids need to get up, run around and be kids. It's true that television is one of the largest contributing factors to childhood obesity, but I wonder if it stunts developmental growth as the AAP suggests it does.

"Lil Man" is just about 17 months. And if I asked the AAP, they would tell me that he is watching waaaay too much TV. Depending on the day he takes in up to five hours of TV. 

But here's the thing.

"Lil Man" isn't catching up on the latest episodes of Grey's Anatomy or Law and Order SVU. He's watching PBS. Wholesome, educational programming. Almost every morning, he watches SuperWhy, Sesame Street, Word World, and Dinosaur Train.

Do I sit with him and explain every episode? No. Does it buy me time to load the dishwasher or get ready for work? You bet it does. Does that make me a bad parent? I don't think so.

Right now, SuperWhy is "Lil Man's" favorite show. He watches on PBS, and when it isn't on TV, he watches on Netflix. It super cute to see him dance along to the music. And the best part? I know he's getting something out of it.

For those unfamiliar with SuperWhy, SuperWhy is the superhero version of Whyatt, who lives in Storybook Village. Whyatt's superpower is the power to read, But he can't find the "Super Story Answer" without his buddies; AlphaPig with Alphabet Power, Princess Presto with Spelling Power, and Wonder Red with Word Power. The 5th member of the "SuperReaders" crew is the viewer with the power to help. The SuperReaders visit different stories, like Peter Rabbit, or Jack and the Beanstalk to find the Super Story Answer. Once the problem is solved the SuperReaders do a dance and close with one final activity.

Lil Man's favorite character is Whyatt. I think he thinks he looks like him, and to be honest, he kind of does. But reguardless of LM's affinity for the show, after he started watching it, he started to do something odd. After every episode of SuperWhy, he would go into his room, get a book, bring it to me, and curl up on the couch while I read him the story! I was amazed, particularly because these actions became a habit. The best part, getting to spend some quality time with my snuggly little boy.

So as for the AAP, and they're take on television watching, I can't be sure that it rings true for every child. I can definitely say that PBS shows like SuperWhy have started to develop an interest in reading in my toddler.

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