Do you view television as your children's favorite babysitter, the evilest of enemies, or somewhere in between? Personally, I like to minimize the use of the brain-sucking boob tube for both my daughter and myself. There are about three shows I like to watch during the week, but I certainly do not have standing reservations on the couch to make sure I don't miss an episode.
When Isabella is under my care, I typically leave the television off and try to engage her in some type of interactive play, whether it is dancing, singing or even building a make-shift fort that the dogs will knock down in their first pass-through. But on the weekends when my husband tends to our daughter when she wakes up to allow me some much-needed slumber, he usually looks to the morning cartoons to lend a helping hand.
I have watched my fair share of television, and there have been many nights that I have vegged out in front of the T.V. for Thursday night line-up. However, in an effort to raise my child with the healthiest of surroundings, I have begun to turn the mind-numbing electronics off. I want my daughter to thrive, engage in social play and be imaginative. Television does not leave much to the imagination - there is no thought process required.
According to KidsHealth.org, two-thirds of the population in the U.S. watch an average of two hours of television each day. Say toddlers sleep approximately 13-14 hours per day-that means that 20 percent of the time these little ones are awake is spent in front of the boob tube.
Children two years of age and younger are experiencing rapid and critical growth not only with regards to their bodies, but also in the development of their brain. Activities such as reading, playing and socializing with others is vital to brain growth. Many experts believe,and I tend to agree, that the frequent exposure of television to children under the age of two can impede much-needed cultivation of the brain.
That is not to say that television cannot be beneficial - in moderation it can be. Educational programming, such as Sesame Street, can help toddlers learn the alphabet, numbers and important social activities such as sharing and helping others. However, too much television can put a child on auto-pilot rather than encouraging them to exercise their little minds and flex their creative muscle.
I want my daughter to get the full benefit of imaginative play. Of course there are times that temptation rears its' ugly head, urging me to just plop her down in front of the T.V. so I can get a few chores accomplished. I have on occasion let my daughter watch a show about dogs, since she has a wild fascination with the four-legged creatures, but those times are few and far between.
As Isabella gets older and surpasses the two-year mark, I will let her enjoy Sesame Street for brief periods of time. But for now, I choose to heed the advise of children's health experts in regards to children's exposure to television. I make sure my daughter has a well-balanced diet full of nutritious foods-so why would I want to feed her brain junk? As the saying goes, "junk in, junk out."