Posted at 12:17 PM on September 16, 2008
by Jeff Horwich
I'm home sick today.
In fact, the whole little family is sick with what seems like the same cold: mother, three-month-old son, and me.
I'm sitting here trying to get some work done while S. reclines on an infant pillow and watches...the Teletubbies. This is his first experience with them--a DVD we bought the other day. But at just three months he can tolerate Sesame Street and seems to really love another PBS show called It's a Big, Big World (which I'm now recording for him every day).
It's not just a special treat because he's down with a cold. Maybe it's wrong...certainly I've absorbed something about child-rearing that suggests that it's wrong...But we've found ourselves actually excited by the fact that he digs TV. He laughs, he kicks his legs when there's music, you can see his little brain working as he tries to process what he's seeing.
And of course, it gives us a break from having to carry, entertain, feed, and mop up his chin at all times.
According to the American Association of Pediatrics, babies under two shouldn't watch TV. They warn that, while there's nothing conclusive, it might even cause ADD. Yikes.
Of course, I think the vast majority of parents cave in and turn the TV loose on their kids earlier than two. At this stage, S. has a hard time making it through reading even a short book to him...after about five minutes, he's squirming and hollering to be or do anything besides sit in a lap and look at pictures. And we certainly do love to entertain him, make faces, baby-talk, all that stuff. But you can't do that constantly.
It's not just that TV is a fall-back, though. What I'm most surprised to feel is that...I might actually be doing him good. Because when I'm not there making googley-eyes, the Teletubbies can be. Even though he's just three months old, I wonder if the basic lessons, bright colors, and friendly voices on Big, Big World aren't helping him appreciate that life is a fun, exciting place. (Image at left of "Snook," the big sloth star of the show, via PBSKids.org)
Of course, the big danger with young kids and TV is that you can overdo it. I take solace in the fact that his day care doesn't have a TV in sight.
But I'm still torn. TV good, or TV evil? I'd like to believe...all things in moderation. But does that hold for babies and TV? I'm haunted by the pediatricians.
(And, as I engage in my first ever serious Teletubby-watching, I think the jury is still our on whether Tinky-Winky is gay. Really, is he any more gay than the rest of them?)