A friend of mine recently asked if it was normal that she’d been enjoying a kids TV show. She had no idea what she’d been watching but found that she was more entertained than her son.
She’d watched Go Jetters and Hey Duggee, so she’d selected well to start with.
If you’re not familiar, each episode of Go Jetters is set in a different geographical location. The plot focuses on the team’s mission around the famous places and landmarks. Hey Duggee is about a sort of scout group learning new skills, working as a team, and achieving badges. Both are on the Cbeebies channel.
Ignore that the one is led by a disco-loving unicorn, and the other a onomatopoeic dog scoutmaster, you’ll find that they are actually both quite educational.
Which got me to thinking, is letting your child watch kids TV really that bad?
I am guilty of putting the TV or music on for noise. I always have done. I just don’t function in a quiet house.
I have never revised or worked in silence. I just can’t.
When Lady P was very little, I’d have Sky News or music channels on pretty much all day while I fed her and washed pooey baby vests.
Now that she likes her own “little girl programmes”, the channels get turned over a lot quicker.
So when I read advice that children under two years of age should have no screen time at all, I had to laugh.
NONE AT ALL? How do the parents go for a wee, alone?
Does that mean she watches too much TV?
In reality, she watches a bit here and there, most days.
She might watch a bit while I make her dinner, as a chill out if she is tired, or if we cuddle up and watch a film together.
The rest of the time she is at playgroups, nursery, swimming lessons, having playdates, ballet lessons, days out, or we are ‘making stuff’ at home.
Thinking about it like that, I personally think the recommended advice is a load of old tosh.
If watching TV is all your child does, with no other stimulation or entertainment, then yes, it’s probably not going to be that good for their development.
But, if like Lady P, they watch a bit alongside other activities, I think it’s fine. It’s especially fine if you need it on to keep them occupied while you do things for them, like make their lunch.
It’s even more OK when they actually learn stuff off programmes too, including how to use a potty.
So here’s my pledge as a responsible parent:
I choose to allow my child to watch some kids TV without guilt or shame. I make sure that her viewing time is outweighed by other physical or educational activities.
And if your conscience still needs some convincing, here are some suggestions of kids TV shows that are actually educational:
Alphablocks – phonics-based reading programme.
Get Well Soon – learning about keeping healthy – including poo.
Dora the Explorer – puzzles, numbers, shapes, letters, colours, and basic words in Spanish.
Mr Tumble – learning with sign language, Makaton.
Sesame Street – numbers and letter fun from the creators of The Muppets. They even have some well known faces popping up (enjoyable for the grown ups too!).
Are you anti your kids watching TV?