There are many studies out there about TV watching for kids. I won’t even go into the statistics on that or whatnot. I’m just going to talk about what works for me.
My kids watch TV. Perhaps more than they should. But I monitor what they watch and stick to educational stuff when they are very young.
My nearly three year old twins have picked up lots from the TV! I especially love the show called Super Why! I’ve seen my kids pick up the alphabet through the rhyming songs and spelling seen on the show. When they were two and a half, they were phonetically sounding out letters. We’d go to a store and they’d start pointing out letters and their sounds from advertisements and whatnot that they saw around them! I was quite impressed!
I also attribute their knowing their alphabet at such a young age in part to my sitting with them a lot. We do ABC coloring pages and games and songs together. I print out sheets for them to play with that has the alphabet on it. But I think the redundancy of seeing it on their favorite shows, like the Super Why, has really helped it stick.
When my oldest was four, I noted that a friend of hers had a backpack for school with the Jonas Brothers on it. Perhaps I am a bit crazy, but I remember thinking “what the heck!?” The kid is way too young to be watching and goggling over boys. My then four year old was invited to a friend’s birthday party and I saw the friend had a huge poster of Zac Efron on her wall in her bedroom. A FOUR year old! Or maybe I’m just crazy or something for finding this a bit disturbing. Perhaps I am just considered a strict parent? I don’t know. But I was floored and very very confused over seeing this.
My now eight year old doesn’t even know who Zac Efron is… or who Miley Cyrus is (she’s kinda sorta aware of the Hannah Montana from others but not familiar with the show). I don’t shield her from these things, persay, we simply do not watch that stuff on TV. She watches Fetch with Ruff Ruffman, PBS shows, Discovery Channel. Educational stuff. Good stuff. Stuff that makes her think, has her coming to us asking good questions, peeks her interest in the sciences.
Now that my oldest is almost nine, she is aware of these shows and she chooses not to watch these shows. I am proud of her! And I don’t shield her from the popular stuff out there for her tween age. She freely talks to me about popular culture and is aware of it. I think she’s at an age where she’s so much more mature and capable of seeing how some of this stuff is a waste of time. Or perhaps that will change when she hits puberty and is a teenager! I’ll probably be revisiting this topic and you’ll be hearing what a rough time I am having with seeing the choices she is making –or maybe not! It’s really too soon to tell.
But I guess what I am trying to say is that as parents, isn’t it up to us to make the decisions for our children when they are way too young to make sound decisions? It’s how I view the whole TV show choices out there. And perhaps I’m as cooky as the religious zealots when it comes to what kind of shows my kids are allowed to watch when very young. However, I am pretty happy with the results I am seeing now and I don’t have to be religious to see them!