TV Should Not Be Your Backup Babysitter

baby in front of tvI fully admit that I'm a TV junkie -- I mean, you know it's bad if I'm still watching Gossip Girl. Now that I have 3-month-old twins, though, I know that I need to be more mindful about exposing them to TV. For years, the American Academy of Pediatrics has been warning against letting children under 2 watch television. Recently, they've spoken out about it again, emphasizing that even so-called educational shows cannot replace the cognitive and language skills they gain from human interaction. In fact, TV-watching can be detrimental.

The report states: "... for every hour a child under 2 spends in front of a screen, he or she spends about 50 minutes less interacting with a parent, and about 10 percent less time in creative play."

Ask me today, and I'm like, "TV bad, no good for little ones." But when I've got two active toddlers tearing apart my house? Eh, I might be a little more lenient.


My brother and I are only 14 months apart, so when I was little, my Mom often just plopped us in front of the TV so she could, I don't know, breathe, maybe. Apparently, I'd sit there playing with toys and ignore whatever show was on. But the commercials always had my rapt attention. Regardless, I turned out okay.

Or, at least, I think I turned out okay. I guess everyone says that. Even dysfunctional folk say things like, "My parents let me watch slasher flicks when I was 4, and look how well I turned out? Want to come down to the basement to check out my antique sword collection and dead squirrel pelts?" One has to wonder, though, if all that time spent in front of the TV stunted my budding genius and kept me from blossoming into the cancer-curing, world-peace-making wunderkind I was really meant to be. Okay, not likely.

For the most part, my babies spend their time in the nursery. But their swings are in our den, where we do watch TV. I mean, it's not like we've got The Walking Dead on. But they do stare at the screen, totally fascinated, and sometimes, I think I hear their little brain cells squealing, "Help me, help me!" The reality is, it's probably not doing any more damage than the ceiling fan, which they seem to find equally mesmerizing.

I think what really matters, though, is that I spend plenty of time singing them songs and putting them on their play mat, and suffering through tummy time. I make it a priority to engage their minds with one-on-one-interaction, which is doubly hard with twins.

Still, there are those times when I'm like, "Hey buddies, wanna go in your swing for a bit while Mommy catches the last 10 minutes of the Real Housewives reunion? Okay, let's do it!" And as they get older, I imagine I'll only start doing that more and more. Still, as long as I'm committed to giving them as much Mommy playtime as possible, and I'm not consistently relying on the TV to keep my kids occupied, a little bit can't be all that bad, can it?

What do you think? Do you let your kids under 2 watch TV?

Image via flick_family/Flickr

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