Screen time

Screen time cropped copy

I’ve been following the discussion of screen time in the comments, and thought I’d weigh in.

The picture above is my third son at 3 weeks of age watching TV with his brothers. His eldest brother (4 1/2 at the time) was simultaneously playing a hand held computer game.

I didn’t just allow screen time, I actively encouraged it. Bad mommy!

  • Sarah

    Yup, bad mommy.

  • Raucous Indignation

    My mother sedated me and my three siblings every day with Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood and Sesame Street. My triplets were sedated with The Wiggles and SpongeBob SquarePants and Thomas the Tank Engine every chance we got. My mother ended up with a doctor, a law professor, a MBA and an engineer. I’m hoping for similar results. But truly, I was just relieved for the brief moments of peace and quiet.

  • Teleute

    I’m anti-TV, pro-screen. We don’t have cable, but we watch a wide variety of DVDs together. Our favorites are currently the Rock ‘N Learn series and science programs we check out from the library, but we watch plenty of G and PG-rated movies as well.

    And we’re on the computer a LOT. My son keeps an online journal, and website like Sprout and Disney Junior have some wonderful interactive games for preschoolers, especially when you have a touch-screen.

  • Bomb

    I’m actually really pro video game. They teach you how to think in so many out of the box ways (I say this as so done raised on Atari on up). I have so many friends that are anti technology it makes no sense to me at all, like all they want the future of kids of today is going to be pulling weeds on organic farms. Personally I hope my kids do more with their brains than dig worms and milk cows, and I say that as a multigenerational farmer (nothing against farming, I just want my kids to have options in life if they DON’T want to be dirt farmers).

    • Bomb

      To add, I don’t know what the studies show but my 3 yr old learned to count to 20 and her whole alphabet on an ipad over a weekend. So I can’t really argue with those results.

  • thepragmatist

    I didn’t realize my off-handed comment was going to piss everyone else off… LOL! I’m sorry, I’ve not slept more than two hours at a time in three days because my kid is sick. But I did mean it, though: I am pretty passionate about this. I can’t really articulate myself very well right now, except to say I’m a musician and a creative person. A writer. I highly value the creative space. It’s well documented that television in very young children has an impact on their play and their language development and the anecdote I shared was just an example of what I see, and what has been described to me by Infant Development workers we have. Is it a case of a causal relationship? I don’t know. For example, Baby Einstein was forced to stop claiming it’s product was educational because it’s really not, it’s the opposite, and pediatricians recommend NO television under 2 as the studies mount against it’s worth. None at all! Most babies by 3 months are watching some television a day. I notice in our culture we cling very tightly to television. It’s no wonder because it does create a very specific brain wave pattern that is relaxing. Hey, I miss it sometimes.

    But most important for me is to give my son the gift of his own creative selfhood. While some people really value academic achievement, I really value artistic selfhood. That’s a reflection of my choices as a parent and the things I value most. I’m raising him gender-neutral (he still has no gender specific play– no culturally engendered play) and without television, because I want to protect his burgeoning creative self from outside influences that are market-driven, product-driven and not even remotely close to being in our children’s best interest. It’s why Baby Einstein got sued and lost. Television isn’t good for children, nor is the kind of heavy-handed marketing directed at children under 5. Is it so counter-culture to want to avoid that? I didn’t know if I could do it, but I did. I broke my own TV addiction in the process. I started playing piano every day. I started to read more. Draw. I haven’t really looked back.

    It was a hard thing for me. Harder still now that I’m single-parenting. It took creativity and patience on my end to parent without using children’s programming for distraction. But instead he has become a child who entertains himself for hours at a time. He makes up his own games. He “reads” like me. He plays the instruments. He draws. He builds things. He play cooks and fixes his ride on toys and does chores with me. Right now he’s dancing and singing songs to himself.

    I just want to give him the CHOICE as to when he wants to watch these programs. When he comes to me and says, “All my friends are watching ______ and I really want to watch it,” I will definitely say be open to talking about it, and we can cross that bridge then. But by then he will have a stronger self-concept, and the brain development to cope with an hour of TV. I desperately remember wanting to watch 90210 like my friends and I wasn’t permitted. If I was the parent in that scenario, I would’ve said yes, and probably watched it with my child, to discuss any questionable material. And just to keep up with what was going on in my child’s life in terms of influence. But at almost three? No. An infant/toddler… no way. And I’ve never had a pediatrician say anything to me except, Wow, that’s great! And that he’s highly self-possessed. I want to give him a chance to just be himself for awhile in his life before all these societal expectations are crammed down his throat. I want him to be able to have his first five years free of a whole bunch of really powerful marketing aimed at him, to groom him for years of marketing, to tell him who and what to be, think, buy, etc. There’s the rest of his life for this. I’m hoping maybe the free time as a small child will give him a leg up. I’ve seen it work first hand in my friend’s kids and it’s an inspiration.

    I am not a sanctimommy. It’s something I really feel passionately about. And I’m pretty proud of my parenting, it’s true. But not for the no-TV thing. But because I’ve parented through intensely difficult circumstances and under difficult conditions that really aren’t first world problems. So this is just a small gift I can give him: the chance to make his own choices when he’s older. I don’t want him to emulate things from television, I want him to discover them in his own life, and make them happen himself. I won’t stop him when he wants to as an older child and I don’t limit technology because it is important to be technologically literate. So instead we sing a lot, make music, do chores together, work together, and he plays for hours by himself. He is always making things. Taking things apart. Trying new things. Making art and playing music. He makes up songs. I’m loving watch this happen.

    Regardless, still not worth jumping all over me! It’s just MY thing and I was sharing my observations. I’ve not gone back to the other thread because I’ve not had time but I personally think television and pop culture (in general) is pretty destructive and gets more and more destructive, it seems. I am glad he’s not seen much of it yet. I’m glad that when someone asks him who his favourite character from Cars is, he has no idea, and says that I am his favourite character! LOL! Meanwhile, I do really look forward to sharing special movies and shows with him when he’s older. It’s not forever. I just don’t think it’s time as a preschooler. So that’s my motivation based on my values.

    TL:DR LOL I didn’t think I’d cause quite a stir there… sorry fellow posters… at least you can’t say I’m a troll. Ha.

    • KarenJJ

      What if his creativity bent is screens – tv shows etc? Playing a bit of devil’s advocate here – not trying to change your mind and I’m glad you’ve weighed into the discussion. Is he at school yet? My daughter’s at kindy and they are all talking about Ariel (which she’s never seen) and Tangled (which she has). My kids are currently watching the “Room on the Broom” animation on the iPad after having read the book almost continuously for a year and watched the stage production here a few months back. They’ve loved seeing the story in different formats (and so have I, I love that book).

    • Mom of 2

      “But instead he has become a child who entertains himself for hours at a time. He makes up his own games. He “reads” like me. He plays the instruments. He draws. He builds things. He play cooks and fixes his ride on toys and does chores with me.”

      This description fits my son perfectly (3 years old). My kid, however, watches lots of TV (mostly kid shows on Netflix–thank God for Netflix, I can’t stand commercials). My point in saying this is simply that you cannot say with certainty that lack of tv is what made ÿour son that way, when its far more likely that that’s just who he is.

      I don’t think it’s sanctimonious of you to expound upon why you’ve opted not to allow any tv, and I commend you for sticking to your guns. My complaint about your comment is that you seem to believe your choices have made your child “better” than the tv watching drones, who it appears you believe don’t have any imagination and can’t entertain themselves. If I’ve misinterpreted you, I’m sorry, but it seems like that’s more or less what you believe.

      • Lisa the Raptor

        All three of mine too.

      • alfie kohn said he found research linking television watching with increased creativity. A range of effects were found from allowing television. Some were good, some were bad. Its not universal, that’s for sure, you have to decide for you own kid.

    • Lisa the Raptor

      They used to have the same conversations about Rock n’ Roll.

      • Petanque

        And look what that’s brought us to – Miley Cyrus!! 😉

  • GuestM

    I’m a no limit either. I’ve found that it’s like with junk food – if you allow it, they don’t want it as much. My older one could now easily go the day with no tv, preferring her toys, books and art. My little one uses it to relax (she has some OT/PT issues and anxiety, and it seems to calm and take her focus off of whatever is upsetting her) but I can also see that she’s heading in the direction of her sister, preferring toys and what not. Better than me stressing it and yelling all the time.

  • VeritasLiberat

    We don’t have a formal limit for screen time. (Kids are 4 and 6) We have Netflix (no commercials) and I find that they go through short spurts of wanting to watch tv. They’ll watch for most of a day, especially when it’s hot outside — maybe they will plow through an entire cartoon series. Then they’ll get bored with it and be into doing something else for the next few days or weeks. I think that if I tried to enforce a strict daily limit for these particular kids, it would shortly become the forbidden fruit and they would see TV watching as a very desirable activity. Now it’s just, meh, whatever. They can take it or leave it. If they never wanted to do anything but watch TV, we would have to make a different rule.

  • Busbus

    Dr. Amy, you just made my day!

    I had to smile and immediately felt a lot better about every time I put on a “Dora” for my daughter in the morning when she wakes up before any human being should ever be made to wake up. Ok, let’s just say it: Several Dora’s. Most mornings. You do what you gotta do.

  • ngozi

    I think that it is not just a matter of limiting screen time, but really considering what is being shown on that screen. If you look hard enough, there are some really good children’s shows and DVDs.

  • Jennifer

    My now three year old used to watch TV a lot. Of course, it was documentaries about how buses are made, how scientific processes work, etc. That was when he was six months old. Now he is obsessed with the magic school bus. Yesterday he asked me why I felt bad. I told him that it was because I had a sore throat. He then proceeded to ask what germs I had. When I replied that I didn’t know, he suggested that it may be streptococcus.

    I don’t think it hurt his intelligence or speech at all.

    Remember, he’s three.

  • Clarisssa Darling

    I wonder if teaching my 3 year old niece to shop online for Hello Kitty merchandise counts as screen time? And it’s encouraging commercialism too! Bad Auntie!

  • I love technology! TV, not so much, but as expats we rely a lot on technology to communicate with extended families, to expose my children to more Polish, I look for recipes and crafts, and yes, I have a blog. Without technology it would be super hard to make my children speak POlish ( my husband is German and we live in the Netherlands), but the iPad and Youtube and DVD’s make it easy and fun!My eldest, who is 4 has learned letters! And I also love the way technology can bring families together- When we watch videos, I am not only connecting to a device but with my children as well!

  • Guest

    Ok, how did we get from the quite valid and much needed discussion about childbirth to being critical about guidelines and sentiment aimed at reducing screen time in children, especially young ones? I think Dr. Amy has ventured a bit out of her area of expertise, as there is absolutely a growing body of evidence suggesting that early or excessive screen time is not healthy for developing brains. I almost feel that lately Dr. Amy is just becoming the “anti-natural/attachment parent” advocate. If they support exclusive breastfeeding, she’s against it and posts a lot of blogs against “lactivists,” supporting the use of formula, and implying that anyone in the public health sector trying to promote breastfeeding, (which remains the undisputed gold standard of infant feeding), is judgmental and anti-feminist. Now that the natural parenting sites have been much more concerned about media and parenting, we see Dr. Amy’s blog today. What’s next? If they take up arms promoting easier to install car seats, will she suggest that parents discard car seats all together? There are more than enough relevant topics regarding home birth, (especially with the increasing discussions of unassisted childbirth), to fuel good posts, without destroying her credibility and turning off those of us who value her well-thought, evidence-based insight.

    • Guestll

      Dr. Amy is the “anti-you-are-a-better-parent-because you do ____” parent. I’m sorry that her taking on your sacred cows bothers you so much (not really).

      You want to breastfeed, great, then breastfeed. Don’t tell me what to do with my body, or tell me that you’re the better parent if I make different choices. At the end of the day, the evidence is clear that in developed countries, the choice of formula or breastmilk (or both) is not all that important over the long haul.

      Attachment parenting is anti-feminist and so is the cult of natural childbirth. Reducing women to the sum of their parts is anti-feminist.

      • Guestll

        And why shouldn’t she support the use of formula? It’s a valid feeding choice.
        You know what else is anti-feminist? Locking up formula in hospitals. Curious, is that what you mean by “promotion of breastfeeding”?

      • guest

        I don’t think attachment parenting is anti feminist. I think forcing women to choose attachment parenting or feel shamed is anti feminist. Same with natural birth, breastfeeding, stay-at-homing/radical homemaking (don’t ask), and more. I like this blog because it makes a clear case about homebirth with both story and science. When it drifts from that firm footing, I lose interest. I can look at the Oregon stats and see that homebirth has a bad track record for babies, and I have Dr. Tuteur to thank for pointing out that (and a lot more.) You can show the bad outcome, and that matters when so many people have no idea of the risk. All those other choices? They don’t seem to be killing babies.

        • guest

          I should say I’m not the same as the first two guests. I should have chosen another name. Sorry.

        • A few of the practices are dangerous, like co-sleeping, but overall, no, attachment parenting practices aren’t risky.

          Woo practices like homeopathy, chiropractors working on babies, and anti-vaxx are quite dangerous as well, but they aren’t an inherent part of AP either.

        • Busbus

          I guess it depends on how you define “anti-feminist.” There is, of course, the problem that if someone says, “I choose my choice!” (to quote what’s-her-name from Sex and the city ;-)), there isn’t much to say to that. And I am not about to tell anyone not to do what she really wants to do (or to think badly about it as long as it looks like she’s really enjoying her life). In fact, if that’s really what rocks your boat, go for it!

          However, as a system, I do believe that AP is anti-feminist in that it restricts women (always women! Dad’s mainly figure as “mother’s helper”) to house and hearth (at least if you want to do it “right”) and, as a philosophy, makes mothers feel guilty if they ever want to do anything without their children, if they ever place their own needs or wants (however fleetingly) above those of their children, or if they want to have a life outside of being a mother.

          And in practice, a lot of AP mothers I know don’t look all that happy—a lot of them are frazzled and sleep-deprived and are privately struggling with such complicated issues as power-imbalances in their marriages and fears about what they will do when the kids are older. Doesn’t look like a very empowering ideology to me.

    • Sue

      Meh – who cares if there’s the odd post that’s not directly about birth. If I were a five-blog-posts-week-for-years blogger, I would have exhausted my ideas a long time ago.

      I do get this one, though. It’s something about not sweating the small stuff – kids growing up with love and security will probably do OK.

      Every generation worries about new technology, as if there was some sort of peak in their own generation. My daughter spends ”too much time” at a digital screen, I spent ”too much time” on the TV screen, my parents spent ”too much time” listening to the radio…The pre-literate worried that writing would destroy everyone’s memory. Probably did, but we don’t rely on oral tradition any more, do we?

      • S

        Not sweating the small stuff — exactly, and (in my opinion) very consistent with her overall attitude toward birth and parenting.

    • I don’t have a creative name

      I don’t think she’s showing anti-anything. There’s no tirade here one way or another. Just showing her own experience with it – isn’t that what moms do on discussion boards?

      I personally try to limit screen time for my kids. I don’t care whether you do or not. What’s the harm in just talking about it and saying what we do in our own families? I don’t think EVERYTHING she says has to be this huge proclamation of passionate belief.

    • Kumquatwriter

      Nobody on this thread (as of last night at least) has been anything but conversational. You brought the judgment in AFIK. I thought it was awesome having Dr. Amy just joining the dialog as a mother!

  • Josephine

    My son didn’t really watch much television at all until I got pregnant with twins. I was so damn tired I just didn’t care if he snuggled up to me and watched two back to back episodes of Curious George before nap time. It let me close my eyes for a whole wonderful forty minutes.

    I have seen absolutely no deleterious effects, except that now he occasionally gets in a cartoons mood and attempts to find my laptop and hoist it over his head.

  • stenvenywrites

    Cute picture! I don’t have a dog in this hunt, but I have seen a lot of sanctimony on the issue of screen time and children. If you are opposed to tv, or tattoos, or that weird cake desert with the squishy pudding thing in the middle, or layered haircuts, or whatever, well, this is America. But do these people have to announce every Saturday evening that “tomorrow we will be observing our “screen free Sunday” as always!”, as though we’re all going to feel neglected when they don’t instantly react to the cat pictures we post on Facebook? I want to say, you’ve made your point: you’re more conscientious parents than the rest of us. Let it go now, so I can get back to watching BBC Sherlock.

    • auntbea

      Why would ANYONE not like cake with pudding in the middle?

      • anion

        I made a Gooey Butter Cake the day before yesterday and it’s almost gone. I’m already planning the next one, and the others I’ll make experimenting with different flavors/options.

  • AmyP

    I was on a forum earlier today where a mom was belatedly realizing that she didn’t want to tandem nurse her 2.5 year old and his infant sibling, but that the toddler was asking constantly to nurse (the mom had cut the toddler down to twice a day).

    My suggestion was, “I hate to say it, but I think it’s time for some help from Mr. TV and Mr. Internet.”

    • Karen in SC

      I just read that as “tantrum nursing”.

  • fiftyfifty1

    3 weeks? Are you sure? That baby is big.

  • wookie130

    Everything in moderation, TV included.

  • InvisibleDragon

    Bwaahahahaaaa!

    My mother sat me up in front of the TV when I was two weeks old to watch Eisenhower’s first inauguration.

    My son had the option of TV from three days old and aside from a fascination with “ET” on video when he was two, he just isn’t interested.

    • Antigonos CNM

      My parents bought their first TV when I was nine because they wanted to watch the McCarthy-Army hearings, otherwise I think they would have waited even longer. Not for any ideological reasons but because they liked radio and reading and couldn’t see any reason for the expense.

  • Carolina

    I agree that the no screen time EVER zealots are a bit much, but I think the message about too much screen time isn’t getting through to some people. I allow limited shows/iPad time for my preschooler. 1/2 – 1 hour a day. It’ s much easier to cook dinner, get through a meal out, etc. if you have that. It’s also pretty fun to curl up on a rainy day and watch Cinderela for the billionth time.
    However, my darling toddler niece is glued to her (yes, she has her own) stupid iPhone all the dang time. Every meal at home and out is spent watching some cartoon. At home, the TV is on for hours on end. My brother is an MD and should know better, but apparently the message hasn’t made it to him. I don’t think it’s harmless. The kid doesn’t play outside much. She doesn’t interact while eating. She didn’t walk until 18 months, can’t hold a crayon, and does not speak well. She needs interaction and activity, not Mickey Mouse. Technology isn’t bad, but it isn’t a babysitter.

    • Josephine

      Yeah, that sounds quite troubling. I think people are slightly ridiculous about screen time, but if she’s having issues that large, I would at least take away the majority of the screen time and see if it helps. It might be related, might not. I don’t think ANY child should have their own smartphone who doesn’t have their own part-time job to pay for it, but that’s just my judgy opinion.

    • Lisa Cybergirl

      Maybe it’s the other way around, and she likes the iPhone because she isn’t good at things like playing outside and coloring?

      • Carolina

        To be clear, this kid LOVES playgrounds and running around outside. Her gross motor skills aren’t that delayed. However, she doesn’t ask to do that if she’s watching cartoons. It’s admittedly hard to suss out cause/effect in some situations, but the excessive screen time cannot be helping her.

  • Tim

    LOL. I can tell you all one thing, screen time be damned. If it wasn’t for Doc McStuffins, our lives would be a lot more difficult on appointment days. Instead of kicking and screaming, we have an 18 month old who is going CHECKUP? CHECKUP? and listening to the Dr’s chests with her purple glittery stethoscope.

    • Carolina

      We had a children’s ER visit this month and they showed her Doc McStuffins on a iPad during the stiches. I don’t think she even noticed the doctors working. Perfect.

    • Mishimoo

      Doc McStuffins and Dr Ranj (CBeebies) are the favourites here too. Our girls love playing ‘Diagnosis’ and writing up charts/instructions.

    • Dr Kitty

      Oh yeah, we LOVE Dr Ranj (who is a real paediatrician, and not woo in the SLIGHTEST) in our house.

      I’ve actually diagnosed a child with hand, foot and mouth and had them tell their parents that it will get better without medicine because of his show.

      He makes my life as a GP much, much easier.

  • Kumquatwriter

    I love you, Dr A

  • Lynnie

    if it wasn’t for cartoons my house wouldn’t ever get cleaned with my sanity intact. OK, not NEVER, of course. But there are times when I want to get my work done as quick as possible with out a 3 1/2 year old’s “help”. Sometimes, I just put his favorite show on netflix or DVD and I know how much uninterrupted chore time I have before the show is over. We don’t have cable or satellite or even a normal antenna for our TV so we don’t get those “evil” commercials and we can have a lot of control of what we watch. I don’t see anything wrong with a little TV over the course of the day as long as there is time to play outside or do other things.

  • DiomedesV

    And the thing that’s really annoying about the AAP’s rule is that it seems to be designed with the least-common denominator in mind. Sure, if you set your kid down in front of the TV for 5 hours a day, that’s bad. But 30-60 minutes? Being in the same room while someone else is watching? Give me a break.

    I’m pretty tired of being handed rules that outlaw the occasional glass of wine during pregnancy and frown on sesame street for my kid, but that will naturally be totally ignored by the binge drinking pregnant alcoholic whose kids all sit in front of the TV all day long.

    Why can’t the AAP just make a rule against being a shitty parent?

  • SkepticalGuest

    Off-topic, but interesting. Check out the comments on this article: http://parenting.blogs.nytimes.com/2013/10/31/filling-cavities-can-be-a-laugh-but-dentists-still-suggest-limiting-gummies-at-halloween/

    Seems there is a substantial contingent of “your child should feel pain at the dentist” arguments for not using laughing gas when filling cavities.

    It seems the sanctimony about lack of pain relief is creeping out into the general public. Sadly, with regards to those to young to defend themselves.

    • Renee Martin

      WTAF, that’s CRUEL. and likely to give tye kid a nasty, well founded, phobia of the dentist.

      • Dr Kitty

        I have a phobia of dentists that is nothing to do with pain, but OMG pain would have made it worse. Bad plan. Give your chikdren pain relief.

    • Carolina

      Oh dear lord, WHY? My rebuttal to anti-epidural people is often “you’d get pain relief for dental work, right?” I’ll have to rethink that.

    • Mishimoo

      Sadly, our dentist was relieved when I opted for numbing gel + local anaesthetic for our eldest daughter. Apparently some parents believe that kids should feel the work or that anaesthetic is too dangerous.

      Side note: I found it rather funny that the thing that caused the cavity was a seed from the healthy wholemeal-with-grains bread that we eat.

      • C T

        My worst tooth is a molar that had a filling broken by a Vollkorn (whole grain) roll in Germany when I went there one summer at age 19. It will probably be the first tooth I have to get crowned. 🙁

    • Antigonos CNM

      What I went through at the dentist’s as a child is the main reason I never go to a dentist now unless I am in agony.

      And yet, contrariwise, there are those who think that an infant circumcision done without general anesthesia is horribly cruel…

    • Susan

      Oh gosh I nearly ran my son out of a dentist office when he said something along the lines of a little pain is good for them. It’s dentistry not the military! I was appalled when the dental assistant said she had only see him use nitrous once! We found a great and very gentle new dentist.

    • araikwao

      That’s horrid. Understanding of infants’ experience of pain has made a huge shift, from initially declaring that babies can’t feel pain, now to realising that early experiences of pain can affect future responses (tired, can’t remember why). Now using sucrose on a pacifier is recognised as an effective method of analgesia for infants, I understand the practice has been adopted in a lot of paediatric hospitals, etc. Why is it suddenly ok to inflict pain and fear on a child because they are a little older? Is that to punish them for not brushing well enough?!

    • MaineJen

      Wow. Um. These are people who have clearly never had their teeth worked on without anesthetic. I vividly remember that pain. My childhood dentist did not believe in giving novacaine (sp?) for filling baby teeth; he though we’d be afraid of the needle. :/ And he didn’t ‘believe’ in nitrous. Instead I suffered a crippling fear of the dentist and had horrible problems with my teeth, until I finally found a GOOD dentist in my 30s. That awful childhood dentist used to actually *scold* my squirming, moaning-in-pain six year old self “Oh, it’s not that bad, just count to ten with me…” Eerily reminiscent of a doula, now that I think of it. No wonder I had absolutely ZERO interest in a natural childbirth…

    • Nashira

      When my asshole childhood dentist filled a cavity without pain control, and he and his assistant ignored me while I f**king cried, it didn’t make me want to keep my teeth in better condition. It made me want to never go to the dentist again, and convinced me that anything *that man* wanted (say, good dental hygeine) was suspect.

      Some of these people need to take a long long walk off a short pier. Or spend a few days being zapped with a Point of View gun by people with severe chronic pain.

  • SkepticalGuest

    Strange…we somehow get from some of us saying “no” to screentime for infants and young toddlers and limiting it to preschoolers to this: “you’re a bad mom if you set limits.”

    Really, I don’t get it. I thought the problem with APers is that they *didn’t* set limits for their kids. My kid is 3. I’m the adult. I get to decide what he watches, when he watches it, and how much he gets to watch. Because I’m the grown-up. I can tell with my own kid whether something is fast-paced and makes him crazy after.

    Our pediatric MD definitely told us if at all possible, no screentime before 2. Not some crazy midwife or nutjob naturopath but an MD. Seemed reasonable to follow, but I couldn’t care less what other people do. I just have a problem with people judging those who ban or limit screentime.

    If you want to judge, judge parents who do things that harm their kids (unassisted childbirth, homebirthing despite knowing the risks) as well as others (not vaccinating). What someone choses to do at home with regards to computers, TV, and iPads is just crazy.

    • SkepticalGuest

      I should add that my kid has watched about 30 to 60 minutes of TV per day (DVDs, since we don’t have cable) since he was about 2.5 years old. We don’t own an iPad but when we borrow one for long plane rides, it turns my son into a crazed addict afterward.

      • SuperGDZ

        Really? It turned him into a crazed addict and you did it more than once? Judging.

    • Guesteleh

      I don’t think anyone’s judging parents for limiting or even forbidding screen time. But when someone makes statements (as I recall someone did in the previous thread) that you can tell the difference between the kids who get screen time and those who don’t based on their behavior, people are going to push back.

    • Susan

      I agree. I suppose if I had to choose between NO screen and carte blanche screen I would say no screen is preferable. But the better choice is setting limits. I have adult kids and a teen and frankly my oldest feels I let him have too much Nintendo. It was a problem. With my youngest son I set limits and I think it was better, though now he is a teen it’s a struggle again. I do believe that kids who spend all their time online, or at a screen, are at risk for developing an inability to tolerate boredom or work on a long term goal that doesn’t have lots of little rewards along the way like video games do. On the other hand, if kids get zero exposure they will be behind in computer skills too. So to me it’s the hard thing, and that’s being involved and setting limits. As they get older, and surlier, it’s far from easy. I am too busy judging myself to even think about judging anyone else.

  • DiomedesV

    I agree that the no-TV stances of some parents are overly sanctimonious, and within reason, I don’t think it matters. But I have a no TV policy.

    I don’t watch TV. I don’t like to listen to it. I avoid it as much as possible. I don’t have cable, and I have a barely functioning antenna.

    I have less of a problem with screen time per se and more of a problem with what’s actually on television these days. It’s been over 15 years since I watched cable/network TV regularly because I’m busy and don’t have time for garbage. Most of TV is pure junk, and some of it is excessively violent junk at that. I don’t expose myself to crime drama/medical drama shows because I have enough problems of my own without gorging on the wrenching, emotional dramas of fictional characters that somehow manage to fit in a pat, 38-minute show. Most comedy shows are not very funny because they’re not cleverly written. Netflix/Amazon is a boon for me because once I find out about a show I do like, I can watch it at my leisure with no commercials and without paying for cable.

    So I’ll be damned if my kids watch tons of TV because quite simply, I can’t stand the sound of it and I refuse to pay for it. If they want to watch it, they can do so at a friend’s house, as long as their friends’ parents give me an idea of what the content is. My parents had the same policy. I got to watch things my parents liked/approved of: the Simpsons, Star Trek, Little House on the Prairie, etc. And a practically unlimited supply of movies: musicals, classic film, Star Wars.

    It’s not the screen time, it’s the content. My motto at home is 1) I pay the rent; 2) If I don’t like it, it doesn’t happen. My kids have the rest of their lives to watch TV somewhere else.

    Finally, my child is under 2. She watches the occasional cat video with me and both of us enjoy it. But even if I didn’t more or less follow the AAP guidelines, I work full time and I want my child’s time at home to be spent with me, not a TV. I turn Netflix on when she’s in bed.

    • Certified Hamster Midwife

      Your comment reads like post ever by a sanctimonious parent who wants us to know their very specific reasons why THEY are special for not having a television, though of course screen time is perfectly good for all of the REST of you plebes.

    • The Bofa on the Sofa

      Actually, you should check out kids’ programming these days. Most of it is absolutely wonderful. Martha Speaks on PBS is probably one of the best shows on all of TV. Funny as all get out, and perfectly suited for kids. But the other shows are not bad at all, either. Nothing like what we were watching when we were little.

      • KarenJJ

        Some of the shows we get are hilarious for parents as well as kids. Peppa pig is a favourite as is Timmy Time – mainly because the behaviour of kids and their attempts to be unselfish are very recognisable. It’s a bit embarrassing when the kids have shot outside to play and I’m still sitting there watching the tv thinking “ooh this is one of my favourites!”.

        • Josephine

          I’m slightly ashamed to admit I’ve become a bit of a Curious George fan, since that’s what my son is in love with these days! All the intrigue on a grownup levels like how can the Man in the Yellow Hat afford not only a pretty sweet two bedroom in the heart of NYC but also a country house on his meager part-time museum employee salary? (My theory is trust fund.). Man in the Yellow Hat and Professor Wiseman – will they or won’t they? Why is no one aware that George is very obviously a chimp and not a monkey?

          (I think I need some adult time.)

          • GiddyUpGo123

            My kids all loved Curious George and I was actually pretty sad when they stopped watching it. In fact I still have a TiVo pass to it even though they don’t watch it because you know, I keep hoping.

            Anyway haven’t you seen the second movie? The Man in the Yellow Hat is now the museum director or something, so that’s how he affords the real estate. And I definitely come down on the “George is a chimp” side of the argument though my husband argues that chimps aren’t brown. In fact we went so far with this argument that I actually Googled “brown chimps” and found a photo of one, thereby winning the argument. Haha!

          • The Bofa on the Sofa

            i find the Curious George tv show to be pretty lame compared to the books, however. George in the original books is far more mischievous than the modern version. I think of Curious George, I think of the monkey that ate the puzzle piece and stole the kids cart and went for a joyride in the hospital, or the guy that made a mess and tried to clean it up with soap and water, but caused a flood so he went to borrow the pump from the neighbor’s barn, but since it was too heavy he had to get a cow to pull it (that’s in CG Gets a Medal). That’s a lot funnier for me than the guy that messed up the scoreboard at the baseball game.

          • GiddyUpGo123

            Actually that one about George flooding the house and then using a cow to pull the neighbor’s pump did end up in the TV series. But yeah, I think maybe he’s a little less mischievous on the show–maybe because they don’t want kids trying to emulate the stuff he does. I think the series is more about teaching math and science concepts and less about the funny monkey destroying stuff.

          • The Bofa on the Sofa

            Yes, they kind of did the one with the cow and the pump, but really tamed down.

          • Awesomemom

            I thought I was the only one that wondered things like that. I would like to see a documentary on the nuts and bolts of how the society in the Cars movies really is run. If you are manufactured as a truck are you forever tied to hauling stuff around for a living? How are baby cars made? How did they exist before they discovered gasoline?

          • Isramommy

            I am so there with you. I find all sorts of grown up context in Curious George- the Man’s house, apartment, yellow roadster, private plane trips and apparent ability to pay for George’s misdeeds without blinking an eye (hello 100 dozen donuts?!) raise some class issues with me, as do Hundley and the Doorman. But I love how the show encourages kids to explore and observe their environment in a scientific way, and I love the vocabulary used.

            Yes, my daughter and I do watch a lot of George. It’s our current go to show for keeping her quiet and safe while I nurse her baby brother, bathe him, boil big pots of water making dinner in our open plan kitchen, etc… I’m home alone with the kids a lot, and I unashamedly admit to having pbs kids help me out when needed.

      • Sue

        Wait – is ”Martha Speaks” based on a book about a dog who won a radio contest and got to take their family to a hotel, where she ordered a room service order of bones? IF that;s it, it’s one of the best books EVER written!

        • The Bofa on the Sofa

          (Sung)
          Martha was an average dog. She went –
          (Bark). And- (Woof). And- (Grrrrrr).

          (Sung)
          But when she ate some alphabet soup, then what happened was bizarre.

          (spoken)On the way to Martha’s stomach, the letters lost their way. They travelled to her brain and now-

          (Sung)
          She’s got a lot to say. Now she speaks.

          (Spoken)
          How now brown cow?

          (Sung)
          Martha Speaks. Yeah, she speaks and speaks and speaks and speaks and speaks…

          (Spoken)
          What’s a caboose? When are we eating again?

          (Sung)
          Martha speaks…
          (spoken) Hey Joe, what d’ya know!
          (spoken) My name’s not Joe.

          (Sung)
          She’s not always right but still that Martha speaks.

          (spoken) Hi there!

          (Sung mildly fast)
          She’s got a voice; she’s ready to shout. Martha will tell you what it’s all about. Sometimes wrong, but seldom in doubt. Martha will tell you what it’s all about. That dog’s unique…

          (spoken) Testing, one, two!

          (Sung)
          Hear her speak! Martha Speaks and speaks and speaks and speaks and…

          (spoken) Communicates, enumerates, elucidates, exaggerates, indicates, and explicates, bloviates, and overstates and (pant, pant, pant) hyperventilates!
          Martha…to reiterate,
          (spoken in joyful sing-song voice)
          Martha speaks!

          or see it here

          http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I-CkjaghqEg

          Yes, it’s based on the books by Susan Meddaugh

          • Sue

            WOW – I finally get to discuss pop culture with Bofa!

            I do SO love that book. It’s been many years, and it was borrowed from the library, but I have a lasting memory of Martha lying on the floor of the hotel room with a big belly full of bones.

            Thanks for re-kindling the memory!

          • The Bofa on the Sofa

            There are apparently 6 books in the original Martha series.

      • Isramommy

        You are so right on this. My two year old has incorporated the words “hypothesis” and “pteranadon” into her vocabulary thanks to Dinosaur Train. How awesome can you get? I love PBS children’s programming (see my comments on George below).

        • Allie P

          I *love* DT. Love love love. My kid won’t watch it anymore but I’m constantly suggesting it to her. Daniel Tiger, Fetch with Ruff Ruffman, Doc McStuffins, Busytown Mysteries, Kipper the Dog, and Leapfrog Learning Numberland are all shows I recommend without reservation.

    • GiddyUpGo123

      I agree that most of what is on TV is trash. But the good stuff is really, really good. In fact I will argue that a great TV show is far better than the very best movie. You can only do so much with character and plot in 90 minutes; but TV producers and writers have 10 to 24 episodes a season to develop story and characters. That’s why I can’t think of a single movie that meant as much to me as Six Feet Under or Game of Thrones. You just can’t create that kind of complexity and depth of character in a mere movie.

      • Leica

        I absolutely agree! We don’t watch TV because I HATE HATE HATE commercials. I especially hate the idea of paying for cable to get stuck with commercials, and not have shows when I want to watch something. We have Netflix and Amazon, so we’ll find something we like and watch it there at our own pace. House of Cards was one of my recent favorites, and I have a secret fondness for Buffy and for Once Upon a Time. I watched the entire series of Battlestar Galactica over about 2 months.

        Not had much luck with kid’s programming though. YoGabbaGabba…. Spongebob…. Caillou…. Dora…. Barney…. Blue’s Clues…. It just seems to get worse and worse. The only decent shows I’ve found so far are Sesame Street and Thomas. Kiddo adores Thomas. The trains are the only TV characters he recognizes.

        • Busbus

          My daughter’s go-to show is Dora, and over time, I’ve actually come to like it quite a bit. Dora is not a girly girl, she solves problems and has adventures. And then there are gems such as “Dora saves the Prince” (a favorite in our household). I love that my daughter – at this point – has no idea that traditionally, this story goes the other way around. Ok, I admit, every Dora follows a pattern and there’s a lot of “edutainment” and sometimes, the goody-ness of it all is a little amusing – but still. I for one can get behind Dora. 🙂

          • Guestll

            My daughter loves Dora. I don’t see much of it because when she’s watching television, she’s watching it with her Dad, and I’m getting stuff done. But he can’t stand Dora. I don’t know why, really.
            The other show she loves (and my husband loves as well) is Team Umizoomi. MATH! apparently. 🙂

    • Sue

      I have never owned a TV – I missed the whole analogue technology thing – but I have WAY too much screen time…in places like this.

      I defy any SOB regular to claim that their children have ”too much” screen time without being a total hypocrite! LOL

      • Karen in SC

        Guilty! In a household of four, we have five televisions, three desktops, four laptops and three Kindle Fires. When they were younger we did lots of cool stuff in the outdoors. Then it gets too boring for them when they reach a certain age.

        Not because of this post particularly, but because they will be soon be grown and gone, I am hoping to get a game of Scrabble or two of Scrabble going this weekend.

  • Alenushka

    I never limited my kids screen time. To me it was a matter of function, “If you homework is done, your free time is your free time”. They both still love to read. Of course, we had serious conversations about safety. My older son finished school few years early and is working for a starts up. Code is in his blood. Limiting his computer time would be like limiting Da Vinci ‘s painting time. We always have dinner togetehr, they both study meditation and all around awesome kid who are kind, love South Park and understnad difference between video games and reality.

  • Dr. Amy – you’re a mother after my own heart.

  • Lisa the Raptor

    Adorable. All my kids get screen time and outside time and reading time. My generation was raised on video games and we are doing just fine.

  • Isramommy

    Thank you for this post.

  • Are you nuts

    Stuff White People Like #28: Not Having a TV

    http://stuffwhitepeoplelike.com/2008/01/26/28-not-having-a-tv/

    • S

      Oh, man, i DO like not having a TV, though! Because we’re really lazy and don’t want to figure out how that digital box works, or find a space for my big ass TV, or figure out how to get TV onto a flat monitor (and my husband is a computer guy, so it would take him no time to figure this out). Which is a stupid reason, so i’m always embarrassed to admit why i’ve really never heard of such-and-such famous show (and by “always” i mean the one time it happened). I’m also not white, so perhaps none of this is applicable. I’m trying not to puke right now. Word.

      • Are you nuts

        As long as the sole reason for your non-TV ownership isn’t “to feel smug about not owning a TV,” I think you’re ok.

  • mollyb

    We were latchkey kids and did nothing but watch TV from the minute we got home from school until my mom got home at 8. We are all successful professionals who attended excellent colleges and graduate schools. While I mostly read in the evenings these days, I still love some TV!!

    • Antigonos CNM

      Well, I watched American Bandstand and the Mickey Mouse Club religiously after school for years and it didn’t stunt my growth or lower my IQ. I got top marks in my SATs, with the exception of math, and nursing school was a breeze.

      • Sue

        I was also a latchkey kid who watched TV every afternoon after school. Once I left home, I never bought a TV, though, and have lived without ever since. I read lots, comment on blogs too much, and watch some TV over the net. And what does all that mean…? Absolutely nothing.

  • R T

    My parents were so opposed to children watching television we didn’t have a TV in the house until I was 15 years old! Then we were only allowed to watch PBS and occasionally Seinfield, The Cosby Show and Friends. When we watched those shows my parents always muted the commercials. My parents said they didn’t want their children to become influenced by commercials and become consumer zombies. I don’t know if it changed my brain development or not. When I stopped homeschooling and went to public school at 16 I was more advanced than my peers, but my father taught me a very advanced curriculum so I don’t think it had anything to do with no TV. I do know when I was in my early 20’s and had some extra money, I went to the store and bought Care Bears, My Little Pony, Barbies, Cabbage Patch dolls etc and sat on my bed with them smiling ear to ear. It felt pretty good, like a major rebellion from my parents haha! I later donated them all to charity! I let my 1 year old watch TV but he’s really not interested at all. The only movie he’ll half way watch is Ice Age: Continental Drift. Other than that he could care less about iPads, computers and TVs. Interestingly enough, one of my close childhood friends, who did get to watch TV, was so inspired by my parents she never let her now teenage children watch TV. It’s funny to me my siblings and I grew up that way, but didn’t choose it for our own child.

    • fiftyfifty1

      None of my siblings or I have carried on the no-TV tradition either.

  • Rochester mama

    My 15 month old son in non verbal still and showing other worrisome signs and is being evaluated next week. The IPad is those only thing that gives me hope. He responds to games and will match shapes using his pointer finger and pop the right shape and animal pictures when I ask him too. It’s the most obvious way I can tell he is acquiring words even if he isn’t saying them.

    • Mac Sherbert

      Technology is not all bad! I think it’s amazing how Ipads can be used by children with special with needs. I hope you receive good news at the evaluation.

      • Allie P

        I totally agree with this. I went to school with a young man who had a motor skill disorder that meant he couldn’t write without a keyboard. In another era he would have been special streamed, though there was obviously no intellectual special needs, and he was our class president in high school and is now a lawyer. Technology made that possible. There are also people who are mute for various neurological reasons that can use phones/keyboards/etc to communicate.

    • Guesteleh

      Good luck with the eval. Just remember that regardless of what you learn, 15 months is extremely young and the picture can change dramatically in a short period of time. My son went to below 5th percentile in speech to normal speech in grade 1, so time and good professional care can do a lot.

      • Rochester mama

        My husband was a late talker and my husband and both his parents are math people-both in laws are college profs. My husband was the guy in college that could do calculus and write computer code in his sleep but was brought to tears by a three page essay responce paper. I hope some speech therapy will be all that is needed. My son is super social and makes great eye contact and plays games….just no words or real gestures yet.

      • Guesteleh

        I meant to say below 5th percentile at age 2 to normal in grade 1, not that it all happened in one year.

    • R T

      Don’t expect the worst just yet! One of my friends called me up last year in tears because her 15 month old wasn’t talking yet. She was sure there was something wrong and was having the child evaluated. Then suddenly within a few months the little girl started busting out full sentences and now she’s 26 months old and never stops talking, lol!

      • Lisa the Raptor

        I agree. Good to get him evaluated but 15 months is still really young and it’s OK to not be talking yet. My 17 month old just recently started and he went for about 4 words to 30 overnight. Good luck.

    • Antigonos CNM

      Children tend to acquire one skill at a time. I remember my son being an early walker and a late talker, while my granddaughter was nearly 2 before she took a step without hanging on to something but was verbalizing words by 9 months and now, at 2+, is talking a blue streak, or, as my mother would have said [and did in fact say] 65 years ago, she “was vaccinated with a phonograph needle”. Nowadays, you have to explain what a phonograph is.

    • KarenJJ

      Good to get him checked out if you’re concerned but my boy hardly had any words by that age. At 20 months I checked in with the Children’s Nurse here and raised the issue. We listed off the very few words he seemed to know and included noises he used in context like ‘meow’ and ‘brrrm brrrm’ and apparently he was perfectly normal. I think it really depends on who you are comparing with – my eldest was singing ‘twinkle twinkle’ at that age as well as forming full sentences – but the nurse told me that is was she who was the unusual one, not my boy. At around two he rapidly took off with his words.

    • Josephine

      Oh please don’t worry yet! My 20 month old isn’t talking much, but he understands SO MUCH – he can identify many colors, animals, objects, etc. He seems to understand pretty much all of my instructions/suggestions. He’s just started saying some new words again (e.g. over the last few days!). I took him in for a belated 18 month checkup at 19 months and my pediatrician was not even remotely concerned about his language development.

      If he is understanding basic intstructions and playing on the iPad in that manner, I would guess he is okay. 🙂 I have heard that boys can take a bit longer, and some kids just don’t feel an incentive to talk just yet.

      I think it can’t hurt for you to get an eval, though. There’s no harm in it.

  • Mac Sherbert

    haha…@11 months my son would say atee inine and catapipper (Baby E & caterpillar). When he was upset or just generally grumpy a Baby E video would cheer him right up! On his most recent report from school all his teacher had to say was “very bright boy”. I think as long as the children are also getting lots of interaction with the adults in their lives a little screen time is not going to hurt.

  • Allie P

    My kid has been watching TV for two days straight. It’s the only thing keeping her from noticing how truly awful her ear infection actually is.

    • Zornorph

      TV watching probably caused the ear infection, though. That or you didn’t give her enough mama’s milk.

      • Allie P

        Ha! Weirdly, she never had an ear infection at all before three, and just got hit with 2 in a month. She magically got better last night though. Think it had something to do with the trick or treating.

    • Josephine

      I definitely pulled that move during a scary, day-long fever this last summer. It helped. He was less miserable and could periodically just nap on my chest in between episodes.

  • theadequatemother

    When I became a mother and I started blogging, I called myself “adequate” as a way of reminding myself to CTFD. I’ve always been a bit (okay a lot) type A. I’ve always put more importance on details then they are probably worth and somehow I knew that if I put that on parenting I would go batty and need to go away for a “rest.”

    In spite of all that, I found myself worried that all the TV I was watching while breastfeeding was going to somehow liquefy my son’s brain and cause it to drip out his ears. I’ve gotten over it. We are all trying to do the best for our kids and we get there by different routes depending on our personal circumstances and resources.

    Instead of worrying about other kids’ screen time or even my own kid’s screen time, I think what i need to do is actually worry about reducing MY screen time. Because my brain is liquefying and running out my ears.

    • Susan

      LOL so TRUE! All of us on screens debating screen time!

  • auntbea

    I really miss the bold, primary color toys and clothes from the late 70’s/early 80’s. I can’t find stuff like that anymore. Everything is purple with flowers on it.

    • Zornorph
      • auntbea

        Was I supposed to see purple flowers there?

        • Zornorph

          No, those were bold, primary color toys from that era. Well, all except the oozinator.

          • auntbea

            Okay good. I loved those half-lion/half-bumblebee creatures whose names I can never remember even though I loved them.

          • Kumquatwriter

            Commercial used to drive me nuts – kangaree?! That doesn’t actually work with the rhyme scheme. Yes, I’m 36 and still irked about this.

    • Mac Sherbert

      So True. When I was pregnant I attempted to shop for baby clothes. There were some really great deals at the end of the summer, but it was all pink/purple with flowers and butterflies. I decided to wait until the fall when the baby was due and buy some “fall” clothes. It turned out all the fall stuff they put out was also pink/purple with flowers and butterflies. I really wished I had just bought the pink/purple stuff when it was on clearance.

  • KarenJJ

    My parents discouraged technology as a kid. I did well in school but never really played with technology the way that my husband or my other colleagues of mine did. My parents limitted it because they saw it as a bad influence and a waste of time. Thing is I ended up working in a technical field, but my husband who grew up playing and tinkering with computers and electronics is by far the better engineer for it.

    • Jessica Atchison

      We were encouraged to tinker with our electronics when we were kids. I mean, obviously not the TV or the VCR, but stuff that belonged to us personally? Have at it. My brother used to rig up motion detectors from electronic game components for use in games of capture the flag. Of course, we were also given full access to Dad’s workshop (including power tools) after the age of eight and we were encouraged to use the stove and the oven ourselves as soon as we were able to reach the knobs *and* understand what turning them did. I remember begging for an easy bake oven at age 6 and being told no because I was already allowed to use the grown-up oven so what would I need that for. We grew up to be an Engineer (my sister), a Carpenter (my brother), and a very good cook with a better than average understanding of home repair and electrical systems (me…i was always a little less focused than my siblings)

  • Kelly P

    A neighbor always went on about how the children in her family are not allowed to watch any TV. They came over one day for a party one day and I was showing another neighbor our netflix set-up. Their kid was in room and when I put the remote on the couch, she grabbed it and put it on the kid section, selected a show and then sat their saying the words. She is three years old. I guess when they said they don’t watch TV they mean LIVE TV!

    • Renee Martin

      I find that what people SAY and what they DO can be totally different things….

    • Josephine

      That is rich! Hahaha!

  • Antigonos CNM

    And this was before the Baby Channel! How horrible! 🙂

    Two of my children are sufficiently dyslexic that reading was an ordeal even when they were nearly in jr. high. But here in Israel we get a considerable number of the better BBC and ITV “costume” serials, including the Jeremy Brett Sherlock Holmes, subtitled in Hebrew. My son faithfully recorded them, then stopped the action to read each subtitle through, then resumed viewing until the next title appeared, oblivious of the fact that he actually was doing quite a lot of reading.

    My granddaughter is developmentally very advanced for her age and I’m convinced it is the repetition of Baby Channel programs that teach colors and shapes and concepts like “in” and “out”, “tall” and “short”, etc.

    So, I think TV is a mixed blessing for children. Like so much else, it needs common sense to get a balance.

    • Zornorph

      Did you let them watch the Hamas Mickey Mouse character?

      • Isramommy

        Really not funny. Incitement of hatred and violence in children isn’t a joke.

        • Zornorph

          Ah, sorry. I’m the world’s only Bahamian Zionist. It was my awkward way of trying to be sympathetic.

          • Antigonos CNM

            I figured you were being tongue in cheek. However, PA television is replete with children’s programs which extoll growing up to be “martyrs”, alas, and there are summer camps in Gaza for children in elementary school to learn how to use rifles so they can kill Israelis in future. It is very sad.

          • So is it solely this religious and political indoctrination that gives rise to violence and hatred, or are there other contributing factors?

          • Antigonos CNM

            I’m just stating facts. PA TV [along with Lebanese, Syrian, Gazan, Jordanian, and Egyptian TV] can be viewed in Israel with the proper set-up, just not via the Israeli cable or satellite networks. [There was a time, when Israel had only one channel, btw, when Israeli Jews of Middle Eastern origin, like my Iraqi husband, who speaks Arabic, loved to watch Arabic movies on Jordanian and Egyptian TV. Egypt has a very large movie industry; most of the actors use Muslim screen names but are Coptic or Monophysite Christians, Omar Sharif being a notable example; his real name is Michael Shatoub and he is Lebanese]

            This is veering from a discussion of whether TV has a positive or negative value for children into politics, which is not germaine to this forum. Rehov Sumsum has Arab “residents” because the population of Israel is 20% Christian and Muslim Arab. There are also Ethiopians, Russians, and other ethnic groups represented. The PA version is Judenrein.

          • The PA version is Judenrein
            Could this be because the West Bank and Gaza have no Jews there?
            If Rehov Sumsum faithfully represents the demographics of Israel, shouldn’t the PA version likewise represent the demographics of the West Bank and Gaza?

          • Amy Tuteur, MD

            Of course there are no Jews there. They are banned.

          • Regardless, the lack of Jews on PA television is not indicative of some hidden agenda as implied, but an accurate reflection of the demographics of Palestinian society.

          • Amy Tuteur, MD

            You’re joking, right?

          • Antigonos CNM

            I doubt MikoT is. There are “only” a few hundred thousand Jews living in the West Bank at present, out of a population of about 1.5 million.

          • They would be settlers living in their own communities, correct?

          • Antigonos CNM

            A distinction without a difference. Israeli Arabs live in their own communities [one of which is a 5 minute walk from my house; I hear the muezzin every day]; as do other religious and ethnic groups. The PA does not allow Jews into areas they control, and, btw, make life as difficult as possible for the Christian Arabs living under their rule. One of the saddest unreported stories of the area is the flight of the Christian Arab community during the past 30 years from villages they have inhabited since way before Islam began.

            Again I say it: this is not the forum for politics, as interesting a topic as it is. I am not going to reply to any more comments here, so you can have the last word, if it is important to you.

          • A distinction without a difference

            http://youtu.be/zn2cxQSZA1g?t=4m16s

          • I have no doubt that PA television is filled with vile anti-semitic propaganda (memri.tv is full of examples of this), however I hesitate to automatically label a kids’ show anti-semitic simply because there are no Jews in it.

          • Antigonos CNM

            In the words of the immortal Francis Urquhart: “You might well think so, but I couldn’t possibly comment”.

        • Incitement of hatred and violence in children isn’t a joke
          I agree with this completely.
          Disappointingly, many groups will readily tolerate this within their own communities, even those who’ve been savagely vilified and persecuted in their own right.
          Never again.

      • Antigonos CNM

        Neither Israeli cable or satellite carries it. We do, however, have Rehov Sumsum, where Arabs and Jews share the same neighborhood, along with Kippi the Giant Hedgehog [the Israeli equivalent of Big Bird, kipod in Hebrew] and Moishe Oofnik, Oscar The Grouch’s “cousin”, who lives in a garbage can. Bert and Ernie are Arik and Bentz. Right now granddaughter Shir is in love with Barney the dinosaur, and has learned all the words to his signature tune in English, which surprises me as [1] she’s only 2, and [2] she really only hears Hebrew most of the time from her parents and nursery staff. Israel TV has children’s programs in Hebrew, English, Russian, and Arabic.

        • Isramommy

          My daughter really likes the Arabic version of Barney that’s shown on public broadcasting. At two she hasn’t had any Arabic language instruction yet, and she certainly doesn’t understand it, but she gets really excited when it comes on. We don’t pay for cable so she actually sees a decent amount of Arabic language children’s programming- we just get the basic channels plus a dedicated old computer hooked up to the tv for YouTube, etc…, and basic israeli television is, as you mention, very diverse in content and languages.

          To be fair, I’m sure my child would rather watch Barney in Hebrew or English, but –I– do much better when I can’t understand what Barney is saying. Barney is one preschool show that just drives me nuts.

  • Guesteleh

    Another thing to keep in mind: screen time today isn’t just passive viewing. For example, a big thing on YouTube is fan-made videos of everything from video game tutorials, Thomas the Tank engine episodes, and elevator riding (big with autistic kids). My son films his own little vignettes using my cell phone camera. There’s also Minecraft, where players build their own worlds. Plus screen time provide a lot of social interaction as well. For example, my son and husband play Portal together. It isn’t necessarily just some kid staring slackjawed and drooling at a TV screen.

    Like a lot of health-related recommendations, I think the calls to limit screen time are aimed at families where the TV is on 24/7 and everyone watches 8 hours worth a day.

  • Jessica

    My TV watching habits have been the stuff of family lore for years – when I was two I became enamored of CHiPS and would wiggle out of my high chair yelling “CHiPS! CHiPS!” whenever I would hear the theme music. Then I would get a goofy grin on my face when Erik Estrada would appear. Later, I became obsessed with Little House on the Prairie. That show was a springboard to not only imaginative play, but also a love of books and writing. My great-aunt bought me all of the books in the Little House series, and between the show and the books I spent hours playing Little House with friends and even my brother (who, depending on my mood, would either be Pa or Jack, the dog). When I was old enough to write, I began writing a series of books about a frontier family.

    My 16 month old has been exposed to TV from an early age, and yes, it can be a real lifesaver when I need to fix dinner or get ready in the morning. It’s also sweet to see him amused by things he sees. I have a video of him laughing hysterically at a YouTube video of a pug playing with its reflection. We balance the screen time with time exploring the yard, going to the park, playing with blocks, and reading books. I know the no screen time edicts from the AAP occasionally make me feel guilty, but then I realize he’s safe, happy, healthy, curious, and engaged with people, and I try to remind myself to lighten up.

    • anon

      I LOVED Erik Estrada, too! I would sneak downstairs and sit on the stairs when CHiPS came on to watch it without my parents noticing. In retrospect they must have known I was watching since I included “Ponch and John” in my prayers every night. LOL.

      • Zornorph

        How many bugs do you suppose Eric Estrada had splattered on his teeth as he drove down the California highway with that open mouthed grin?

  • Rose

    As a mom with a son with suspected ADHD (we are in the process of getting him diagnosed and hopefully medicated) I have to wonder if those studies linking TV watching with ADHD didn’t control for the fact that perhaps the parents plunked the kids down in front of the TV to get some quiet from the pre-existing ADHD.

    • Guesteleh

      Also, kids with ADHD may be more drawn to TV because of all the fast cuts.

    • GiddyUpGo123

      That is an excellent point and is actually something I consciously do with my kids, and one of them is diagnosed ADHD. Sometimes when they’re really amped up putting them down in front of the TV is like magic. I can handle the “noise” of the TV over the noise of all four of them squabbling.

  • Amy M

    Yeah, like I said yesterday, we monitor what they watch and we set limits as to how much. We also cut off screen time (computer/ipad/tv, whatever)at least 1.5hr before bedtime. But I don’t think tv is the devil, and I have no problem using it to keep them out of trouble long enough to get dinner on the table or a shower in, if my husband is not home. Those things can get done in one show.

    They use the tv shows as jumping off points for imaginative games. My sons are very big into super heroes, like many boys their age (4.5yr). They’ve seen teenage mutant ninja turtles, for example, on tv, and then they will go off and play teenage mutant ninja turtle-based games. They are always the good guys, saving the world, so they don’t fight each other, they fight imaginary bad guys together.

    Meanwhile, my husband and I like to watch tv. We often relax together with a show after the children have gone to bed. We use computers a lot, in our work, but we spend time on blogs and facebook too. This is the world we live in, and though I believe children’s tv and computer use should be monitored by their parents, it is unrealistic to think they can be sheltered, or should be sheltered from it completely.

    • Zornorph

      You need to give them a little brother so they can make him pretend to be The Shredder.

      • Amy M

        hahahaha! No, twins is plenty. 🙂 Bring yours over when he’s older, he can be Shredder.

      • me

        My girls love TMNT – they pretend our cat is The Shredder 😉

    • fiftyfifty1

      “My sons are very big into super heroes, like many boys their age (4.5yr). ”

      My son was into dressing up and lip-syncing to Celia Cruz at that age. Is that predictive of anything?

  • jenny

    We would not have survived this summer without screen time. My 4yo loves her daily dose of Strawberry Shortcake, and it makes great currency. I did limit screen time more when she was under two, and my boyfriend laughed at me and called me a hippie, but ultimately, I’m not sure how much of a difference it makes.

  • Kelly P

    Boy does this bring back my own memories of the good time…watching TV with my siblings and cousins.
    I guess they shouldn’t have sat us in front of the TV so much, but honestly my parents worked a lot of hours and went to school while I was growing up. They were exhausted a lot of the time and did not have the energy to set up crafts. Did it hinder us in any way, I’m not sure but what I do know is that I always had a meal on the table, clothes to wear and knew that I was loved.

    • Guesteleh

      Love this. We’re all doing the best we can with what we’ve got.

  • Mary Schreiner

    Oh my goodness he is cute.

  • Awesomemom

    Oh the horrors, I think I am going to faint!

    I got a nasty comment on my blog once when I posted a picture of my middle son “playing” a video game with his father (he was holding a controller that was not hooked up). They asked me if I wasn’t worried about giving him ADD. I just had to laugh and roll my eyes. Naturally it was anonymous.

  • Monica

    Very cute ;). And your children grew up okay? I was kind of taken aback when my doctor kept saying after I had my youngest no TV before they are 2, then very limited. Ummm yeah you try keeping the youngest of 4 from watching TV before she’s 2 when before no one had a problem with it. Sorry, I’ve already got the big ones addicted to the screen and my now 2 year old loves TV. She learns a lot from it too. I’m pretty sure the concern of course is they don’t learn how to react to things from watching TV. So just be sure to have a good amount of face time mixed in with that TV time and it’s all good.

    • Zornorph

      TV viewing causes cancer of the eyeballs.

    • Amy Tuteur, MD

      They appear to be okay.

      The oldest is a software engineer, as is his wife. The second is a lawyer and the third is about to graduate college with a degree in applied math.

      My second and third sons watched so much sports on TV that they accidentally burned the ESPN logo into the screen.

      • Guestll

        My second and third sons watched so much sports on TV that they accidentally burned the ESPN logo into the screen. — AWESOME!!!

      • Kelly P

        My family always used to tell us that would happen, thought they were messing with our heads. Good to know it can happen.

    • Happy Sheep

      If it wasn’t for Disney Jr I don’t know who would have babysat my 3 year old while I was dealing with the baby. Mickey taught him to count so I’m not too worried.

  • Zornorph

    Matching pajamas, too! How are they supposed to develop their own, individual identities if you are too lazy to get them different clothes to wear?
    I’ll admit to being a little tickled that my throwaway comment about screen time prompted a post. 🙂

    • Awesomemom

      My sister was soo sure that she would never dress her boys alike. She even put a very scantimommy post on FB about it along the lines of your comment. Last time I visited them her boys were wearing matching clothing. I had a deep laugh at the irony. My boys think it is awesome to wear the same things as each other.

      • Amy M

        My twins are identical, and we’ve never dressed them alike. A big part of that was that the vast majority of their clothing so far has been hand-me-down so we never had two of the same thing. However, if they choose to dress alike when they are older, that’s fine with me. We just didn’t think it was right to foist it on them, as they are individuals. Not to mention most people besides my husband and I have trouble distinguishing them, so they just memorize who is wearing what on a given day.

        • Awesomemom

          If my kids were twins I could see avoiding it more but they are not, it is clear who is who. My sister’s kids aren’t twins either. When I had my youngest son dressing all three of them alike went out the window because of the size differences. It was hard to find things in toddler sizes and big boy sizes that were identical.

          • auntbea

            Carter’s. Thanks to hand-me-downs from kids of different ages, we have the same shirt in three sizes.

          • Awesomemom

            Sadly my eldest is out of Carter’s sizes and I wasn’t very impressed with their big boys stuff when they did fit my eldest. The baby stuff was to die for and the lady at the Carter’s outlet knew me by sight when I was shopping for my first one. Those cloths got a good work out and made it through four boys (I passed them on to a friend) and are still going strong.

        • Guestll

          My husband has a twin brother. Their mother dressed them alike when they were small. When they grew old enough to dress on their own, she would buy clothes in one size (sometimes duplicates of things, sometimes not) and sort them into drawers in their shared room — pajamas, shirts, pants, etc. They would sometime choose to dress themselves alike, even when they had other options. 🙂

          • EmbraceYourInnerCrone

            My neighbors when my daughter was small had twin girls the same age as my daughter. They were identical and their parent not only dressed them exactly alike every day(down to their shoes and socks), they also had their hair styled exactly alike, as in if one had bows on her braids her sister had the exact same color bows.

            They were also expected to always play together and go everywhere together. When they were put in different kindergarten classes they panicked at first, I think they thought of themselves as a unit, not 2 separate people…

          • Guestll

            By any chance was your neighbour Joan Crawford? http://www.joancrawfordbest.com/62janeset11bj.htm

          • Amy M

            Totally OT, but twin related: In a small (n of 2) informal study, conducted in my home, that supports the hypothesis that there is a genetic predisposition to cavities, recent findings include that Twin B got cavities on the same teeth in the same locations on the teeth as Twin A. (This was discovered this morning at the dentist. A got the cavities first, B just caught up.) Conclusions: 1) There may be a genetic predisposition not only to getting cavities, but where they develop. 2) We may have freaks for children 3)We may suck at helping them brush/floss their teeth.

          • auntbea

            Apparently, you only suck at brushing their teeth in that one spot, though.

          • Amy M

            Yes, but this was multiple teeth. (bows head in shame for poor dental hygiene, yet still marvels at freakish twin thing)

          • fiftyfifty1

            I have a set of fraternal twins toddlers as patients.One just got all his teeth capped. The other has not a single cavity. Super soft baby teeth is a trait that some people have. It doesn’t predict bad adult teeth if I remember right. I’m no dentist though.

        • KarenJJ

          IMy two kids have almost 2 and a half years between them and one is a boy and one is a girl, My boy got given two of the same set of pyjamas with a picture of a monkey on the front that they both adored. So my girl co-opted his spare pair. Because they were just t-shirts and shorts, they would actually were them out and about as well as to bed and I have a great photo of them both wearing their matching monkey t-shirts at the zoo.

      • Happy Sheep

        I dress my boys alike as often as I can! I figure I only have a few years to do it before they start rebelling so I do whenever I can. Tonight they are both firemen, next year they will be Mario and Luigi

    • Amy Tuteur, MD

      I made the pajamas. At that time, they were okay with matching clothes, even though they all have very different personalities, and did right from the beginning.

      • Zornorph

        Sigh – you sewed your kids’ pajamas. I now feel horribly inadequate as a father because I bought mine from JC Penny. Though I did sew my son’s Halloween costume, so that’s something…

        • Amy Tuteur, MD

          Halloween costumes are the best.

          My kids Halloween 1995:

          • auntbea

            My toddler is wearing that exact same lion costume today!

          • Zornorph

            Why did you break into Dr. Amy’s house and steal her kid’s old Halloween costume?

          • auntbea

            Stalker.

          • KarenJJ

            That’s one mighty big toddler you have!

          • BeatlesFan

            I think the Teletubbies costumes are still my favorite. 🙂

          • Isramommy

            You made those? That’s really impressive. And adorable.

          • DiomedesV

            Those are gorgeous!

          • Kumquatwriter

            Omg the CUUUUUTE

          • wookie130

            That frog may be about the best thing I’ve seen all day!!!

        • theadequatemother

          I managed to sew on a button once…;)

          • araikwao

            One of my son’s stuffed toys has been sitting on the bench with a needle through its eye for about a month because I haven’t got around to sewing the unravelled thread back in. But I have sewed on two buttons this year alone, so I win 😉

      • Bombshellrisa

        You made pjs? I don’t know anyone who can so that!!! If you wanted, you would be qualified to brag-unmedicated births, breast feeding and you made their pjs!

        • Happy Sheep

          I am much much more impressed with mad sewing skills than I ever was with anyone pushing a baby out and lactating. Dr Amy, you clearly missed your esty career when you opted to be only a doctor and then mother instead.