Toys And Television For Your Toddler: How Much Is Too Much?

Did you know that nearly half of America’s three month old babies are regular television viewers? Yes, that’s three MONTHS old, according to researchers at the University of Washington and Seattle Children’s Hospital Research Institute. Ninety percent of two year olds get to know Blue, Barney, Dora, her devil-may-care cousin Diego and that sippy-cup-set superstar Elmo intimately through daily television viewing.

How ’bout those insanely trippy DVDs we rush to the store to buy so we can make our children the next Bill Gates, or those space gobbling contraptions we buy that zing and whir and light up? How about those developmental video games targetted at two year olds?

American parents (including me) have poured — and continue to pour — gazillions of dollars into the educational television and toy industry…but are all these entrancing trinkets making a difference?

Well, maybe…and maybe not in a good way….

A recent study out of UC Riverside has found that toddlers exposed to baby media intended to help with language development did not possess advanced language skills.  In fact, some were delayed.  Ah, good intentions…

Dr. Sarah Rizvi is a pediatrician at Baylor College of Medicine, and she says kids need to play the old fashioned way. They need to pretend. They need to imagine.

They need to “make believe”…

Hear What Dr. Rizvi Has To Say About Children And Play:

So if you have an infant, I’m not gonna say it’s wrong to get an infant DVD. I had one, thank goodness. It’s the only way I ever got to brush my teeth. I’m not going to say you should throw your exersaucer away. When my daughter had HFM it’s the only place I could get her to eat!

I am saying that what infants need are touch, eye contact and conversation. Lots of it. As they become toddlers, they need all of that plus they need their parents to play blocks with them, or dolls, or peek-a-boo.When they’re older, still, they need a stick and a box and a blanket and a couple of cans and string…whatever. No doubt, my daughter would find a way to make that haul into a crown, a wand and a batman cape (she’s confused).

Don’t feel guilty if your kid has a bunch of things, or watches some tv. I don’t. But they’re extras. They’re fillers. The real way to healthy development is through old fashioned play. The kind you did when you were a kid. The kind I did when I was a kid.

And remember, adults need to make time to play, too. We often forget that. So when the kids go to bed, why don’t you and your partner make a fort out of sofa cushions and blankets? I guarantee, you’ll thank me later.

Hear much more good advice from Dr. Rizvi at our Pea in the Podcast home page. She shares everything you need to know about Caring for your Newborn

For The Record
The American Academy of Pediatrics strongly urges you to not let your child under two years old watch tv. At all. It’s in bold print and everything. This time is essential for brain development, and there is concern that even tv targetted at little ones can do more harm than good. The AAP suggests that even older children watch no more than two hours of quality programming a day. You can out more about their recommendations here, and some compelling reasons why you should limit your child’s tv viewing here.

-Bonnie

(Originally posted @ Pea in the Podcast)

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Comments

  1. Excellent article! It’s something that I worry about daily. Does my daughter get too much stimulation? Should I turn the TV on, or off? I’ve recently started hiding some of her toys, mostly because they’re ignored, but also because I think she has too much. The nice thing is, when she gets bored with her current toys, I switch them, then it’s like Christmas all over again!

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  1. […] reminds me of another blog post I wrote awhile back, Toys And Television For Your Toddler: How Much Is Too Much?.   Check it […]

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