Breast is Best But What About the Boob?

Contributing Editor Mary Tsao also blogs at Mom Writes.

"If you don't use TV as a babysitter, you don't have kids, or you are lying." -- Deborah Linebarger

Lauren Young from Business Week's Working Parents blog recently wrote a post titled Kids & TV: The Boob Tube Is Okay! in which she interviews Deborah Linebarger, an assistant professor at the University of Pennsylvania's Annenberg School of Communications in Philadelphia, and "one of a handful of researchers who track kids and their TV viewing habits."

Excerpts from the interview can be found in Lauren's post. Lauren sums up her feelings after the interview by writing:

"I felt like a better mom after our conversation. We need to stop parents from thinking that they are bad parents and they are damaging their child by letting them watch TV, Linebarger says. It's okay to use TV like other tools to meet a specific need."

Lauren's interview with Linebarger was in response to a recent Kaiser Family Foundation study The Media Family: Electronic Media in the Lives of Infants, Toddlers, Preschoolers and Their Parents. Nobody from Nobody Here takes offense at an AP article written based on the study.

"So what you're saying is, before TV, these dinner-making supermommies were having high quality teaching-learning moments with their toddlers while cooking? They were teaching them to play the lute or recite "Sir Gawain and the Green Knight" without ever once burning the risotto? The question here isn't whether there are times when you must attend to something other than your child(ren), because obviously there are. The question is how you choose to fill those times, particularly when your child is too young to read on their own or self-entertain. So how is having them sitting in a playpen staring at the wall or poking around the corner eating lint more developmentally advantageous than Elmo?"

Mothers certainly don't need to feel more guilt about yet one more parenting issue, and I think most of us would agree that watching TV is much like eating cookies; it's fine in moderation. As explained on the Toddler Blog:

"Toddlers don't need alot of TV. Some parents allow their children to watch TV and that is perfectly fine and normal. However, you should limit the amount of TV time that your toddler watches. You should also monitor the types of TV shows that your toddler watches."

Linebarger gives some indication as to which shows are better for younger viewers:

"Certain studies have shown that kids six to 30 months who watch "Teletubbies" have lower vocabulary scores and expressive language. But shows with simple story lines that look like actual story books, such as "Arthur" or "Clifford," are associated with higher vocabulary and better use of language."

Unfortunately, the issues of how much TV is too much TV and whether or not you can trust programming "for kids" don't disapear when your child gets older, as Jenn Satterwhite reminded us in her BlogHer post "N" Stands for Never and Not on My Watch. Liz Ditz from I Speak of Dreams recaps the issue behind Jenn's post and explains what actions moms can take to fight age-innapropriate TV programming in her post Age Compression, Again and Again: Promoting Tween Sexuality.

On a lighter note, Erin-erin-bo-berin from Family Circus is just happy that her youngest daughter, two-year old Rosie, didn't ruin the screen of their 65" rear-projection television when she sprayed it with Johnson's Detangler.

What about you? Do you (or did you) employ the electronic babysitter? What are your thoughts about kids and TV?

[Hat tip to Anne 2.0 for the link to the Working Parents post. Image credit: Animation World Network.]

Mary Tsao | Mom Writes

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