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I was a much better parent before I had kids.

I’ve long known of the detrimental effects of TV on young kids.  In college, we read an article about how TV makes teachers' jobs so hard. Even by the age of 5, kids are used to watching cartoons, where the scenes change every 5-7 seconds. How is a teacher supposed to compete with that kind of excitement? But, as time goes on, I’m learning more and more reasons that children under 2 should avoid the TV, as the American Academy of Pediatrics suggests.


1.  ADHD – higher incidence of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder at age 7.  This includes babies who play with TV on in the background, too.

2.  Language Development – Babies do not understand enough of TV to get any language development from it.  Also, they need to see the facial expressions of the person talking in order for them to realize that they are hearing words!  Maybe TV shows do not show the faces while the characters are speaking.  Baby Einstein actually SLOWS language development because exposure to the different languages keeps the baby’s brain from “specializing” in English.

3.  Autism – Just found a study linking TV and autism.  Yikes!


That being said, I got to take an uninterrupted shower yesterday thanks to Bob the Builder.  When it’s just Adam and I, the TV stays off most of the time.  But when Daddy comes in from the working on the farm, the first thing he does is turn on the TV.  So Adam has seen quite a bit of SportsCenter.  And, the last few months, Adam has not been playing independently very well, so when I need to get something done, I am totally guilty of using “Cars” and “Bob the Builder” as a babysitter.  He’ll survive, right?

I was a better parent before I had kids. :) 




Here are some links, if you’re interested.

Here is a great article about TV's effects on language development. The 2nd to last paragraph about "overstimulation" of the brain really hits home for me.

And another, VERY easy to read article

A Cornell Study linking TV to AUTISM:

“These findings are consistent with early childhood television viewing being an important trigger for autism.


More articles:



Would you like to comment?

  1. There must be a huge amount of anxiety today about childrens' development and I think studies can drive you a little nuts. But it's good to have the information at hand. Your little guy is so cute -- and I'm sure you're a great mom. Thanks for stopping by to see my garden. Jane F.

  2. I admit that I'm one of THOSE hyper-annoying parents who is super uptight about TV time for many of the reasons these studies list. Originally, I wanted to give away our TV when we had kids, but my husband totally refused. ;) When our oldest turned 3 we started allowing her to watch 1 commercial-free show a day (20 - 25 minutes). I have to admit that I love those 20-25 minutes! ;)

  3. ha ha ha.. I know what you mean.. Dora the EXplorer was my rescue... But some of these must be good for these kids.. I hope!!

  4. I think TV, like other treats, can be a good thing in little doses. My son (3) looks forward to his 1 daily show. The rest of the time our family totally benefits from leaving the TV OFF. But there's nothing like an uninterrupted shower! :)

  5. My girls were allowed Sesame Street and Calliope on Nickelodeon. They came out pretty well. My oldest granddaughter, though, is another story. Her dad is a TV/video game/DVD junkie and she has been exposed to too much (pardon me!) crap. She had her own DVD player before she was 3.
    You're doing great, Katie. I'm sure of it.

  6. I think a little TV doesn't really hurt. It's when people start using TV to parent their child that it becomes a problem.

    That's one cute little guy!

  7. i think a little tv is ok. my kids usually have a movie or a show in mommy and daddy's room after their bath and it helps them unwind and cuddle together before they go to bed. and i think we all were better theoretical parents.... i had lots of great ideas on what kind of parent i was going to be.... before i had kids!

  8. I was a better parent before I had kids too!!!

  9. Enjoyed your post. Creative play is something TV is removing from many children's daily lives and it is so important in their development.

    Thank you for your special comment. What I call my tree vitamins are pellets containing essential tree nutrients from my local gardening store.

  10. I haven't read the studies, but I think a lot of it depends on the type of program and the kid. I am sure experts will disagree with me, but I think many of the Sprout programs (Super Why, Word World, etc.) have enhanced Add's language and learning skills, not to mention her eagerness to spell and read with mom and dad. Other kids might react differently, but for Add it seems to have a positive effect.

    We watch a fair amount of TV in this house. But, when Add is in the room and the TV is on, it is typically an educational show that she enjoys. We don't do Sponge Bob or any shows that we notice either add no value or have a bad influence. For example, she REALLY liked Wonder Pets for a while but we noticed she started baby talking like Ming Ming and after trying to get her to stop, we decided to stop Wonder Pets.

    I guess I might feel guilty one day, but for now count me in the minority-- I feel like her TV time is time well spent.

  11. I think most moms must have this inner turmoil of "does my kid watch too much TV?" We don't keep the TV on at all during the day unless it's the after-naptime cartoon or movie I let my girls watch b/c they are CRANKY in the late afternoons. When they were little, I'd let them watch Elmo so I could get my make-up on. ;)

    Thanks so much for the visit today!

  12. I was a better mom before I had kids too :)

    But you know what, Brigham has learned a TON from Sesame Street. So I keep it to a min.

    Lincoln always comes in and turns it out. "Man TV" drives me crazy! I try to tell Lincoln to keep it off until he goes to bed :)

  13. :) Love this! It's true...I am guilty of it as well. It is so hard when you want to get something done (like a shower). Welcome to parenthood...here's your guilt.

  14. I was a much better parent before I had twins. :)

    Thanks for all of the great resources. My sis is a 3rd grade teacher and has always said that there is a night and day difference between children with too much TV exposure vs. children who creatively play in their rooms and outside.

  15. Lol I so agree, I was the perfect parent before I gave birth. Thanks for this post, it's the kick in the pants I need to trim down the tv in our house - it's been slowly creeping up from zero tolerance to an essential snack time accompaniment, Mummy's morning coffee break, lunch time..before bed. Doesn't help that there's a dedicated pre-school age ad free channel here in Australia (ABC2) with pretty much non-stop toddler appropriate viewing...

    Love your blog by the way...came over here from Delicious Ambiguity.