Chances are that when you were a kid, television was limited to a few hours a week of shows like Sesame Street and Saturday morning cartoons. With the advent of channels like The Cartoon Network and Nickelodeon, kids can watch TV 24-7. With all of these options, today's parents have a much tougher job than ours did. The question for most parents isn't Should we or shouldn't we? but How much is too much and how guilty should I feel? Here are the pros and cons of television and how to make peace with it in your house.
Expert opinion differs as to whether TV is a valuable tool or not, but there are some points that most experts agree on.
In an informal, completely unscientific poll of moms, most agreed that it was not good for kids to watch more than two or three shows a day on a regular basis. But the reality is that TV is what parents use to sleep in on Saturday morning, read the paper, and get dinner on the table. Adults are as reliant on TV for its babysitting features as kids are for its entertainment value.
In other words, two shows a day sounds like a worthwhile goal, but not always workable. Says Margrit Freundlich of Montclair, New Jersey, "I'm not going to get in a twist if my boys watch more than an hour on a given day. The other day my 3-year-old woke up at 5:30 in the morning. My choice was to get up and read books with him or plunk him in front of a video. It wasn't a hard decision."
For Ann Cropper, mother of three, the challenge is having other activities ready when her kids ask to watch TV. She keeps a list titled "Things to Do Instead of Watching TV," which includes projects like making a fort and drawing with sidewalk chalk. When those ideas start seeming stale, her kids help brainstorm new possibilities.
The information on this Web site is designed for educational purposes only. It is not intended to be a substitute for informed medical advice or care. You should not use this information to diagnose or treat any health problems or illnesses without consulting your pediatrician or family doctor. Please consult a doctor with any questions or concerns you might have regarding your or your child's condition.