In the Loop

In the Loop: October 7, 2008 Archive

Babies 'n' TV: Part II

Posted at 12:45 PM on October 7, 2008 by Jeff Horwich (3 Comments)

I'm awfully glad I posted a couple weeks ago about the appeal of TV to a new parent. While it wasn't the most commented blog post we've ever had (a distinction that goes to Sanden's post on Amy Goodman) it was probably one of the most thoughtful, substantive discussions. Definitely useful to me.

On the one hand, you had the experienced parents who know that the sound and moving images can keep the kid quiet and -- seemingly -- engaged for a while. Some with older kids assured me their kids watched some TV as babies, and no harm apparently done.

Snook the stoner sloth from "It's a Big, Big World"
(Image via PBS.org)
On the other were people who had seen some of the research, which suggests TV watching in young babies can lead to ADHD. Whereas it seemed to me my son was enjoying the characters on the screen, it might just be conditioning him to be unhappy or uncomfortable if his field of vision wasn't filled with swift-moving jungle creatures or colorful Teletubbies. (My 42-inch screen seems especially captivating to the little guy.)

I have noticed how, if the TV is on in the room, he will often turn toward it even if he's not set up directly in front. Scary! (Not a good habit. I do the same thing...not good, especially when I'm supposed to be eating dinner with my wife.)

So I've dialed it back. He's four months now, and I admit did put him in front of an episode of Big, Big World yesterday morning and I rushed around to get ready to take him to a pediatrician's appointment. But for now we're done using it as a tool if one of us is available to tend to him. He has also, fortunately, gotten a little better at grabbing for toys and entertaining himself.

I've also cut Sesame Street out of the mix -- too advanced. At this stage, it can't be anything more to him than confusing, I think. Not sure about the Teletubbies DVDs...they're shelved for the moment.

Which leaves "Big, Big World," the show about a bunch of buddy-buddy animals who live in one giant tree (a proxy for earth) in some jungle somewhere. S. still loves it, and I think the big, distinctive, consistent characters might give him something he can kind of follow.

I still think the main character, Snook, is a stoner (I'm clearly not the only one, either). Maybe that's just what sloths would sound like if they could talk.

Either way, I'm comfortable with him being a small part of our son's existence for now.

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