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How Much TV Should Your Toddler Watch?

Almost every person you ask will have a different opinion as to how much TV your toddler should watch. Some will say that allowing your toddler to watch any TV at all is bad, others say it can be beneficial.

I personally believe a small amount of ‘good TV’ can be very positive for your toddler. By ‘good TV’ I mean an educational show to help your toddler learn their abc’s or a documentary where your child sees things they wouldn’t in their own neighborhood, for example exotic wildlife.

Obviously this in moderation though. I would say if your toddler was watching more than two hours of TV a day, they would start to miss out on other things critical to their development.

To help you make up your mind as to how much TV your toddler should watch, here are some of the pros and cons.

The cons of allowing your toddler to watch TV

  • TV interferes with the physical activity your toddler needs to develop. TV replaces the time that your toddler should be exploring, playing and interacting with others. This can have a big impact on your toddlers learning, health, social and physical development.
  • To much TV means your toddler will not be as active and is therefore more likely to be overweight. This can cause health issues for your toddler as well as them having other problems such as being bullied.
  • Toddlers often find it difficult to differentiate between the real world and TV. This can lead to them feeling frightened by reality.
  • Watching too much TV can desensitize young children. For example, watch cartoons on a Saturday morning and see how much violence is involved. It is no wonder some children are very aggressive even though they come from very nice homes.
  • TV can be addictive. Has your toddler ever thrown a tantrum because you turned the TV off?
  • TV is an easy, free, constantly available babysitter. It is very easy to let your toddler sit in front of the TV for hours whilst you get own with household chores and anything else you need to do. But ask yourself, is it doing your toddler any good?

The pros of letting your toddler watch TV

  • TV can be very beneficial to your toddler, when in moderation. Educational programmes can teach your toddler in a way you may not of thought of. Your toddler will learn a lot through watching TV without even noticing. For example there are some children’s programmes that help to teach your child a different language, which will give them a considerable head start when they start school.
  • If you watch the programme with your toddler you can ask them questions about what they have seen. You can also bring the programme to life. For example if your toddler has just watched a TV programme about wildlife, you could take them on an imaginary safari hunt, prompting your toddler to point out the different animals, the sounds they make, what they look like etc. This is great for your toddler’s development.
  • Persuading your toddler to ask questions about what they have seen will also help your toddler’s development. Getting them to think critically about what they have seen and making sure they have a good understanding will help your toddler’s view of the world.
  • TV is very hard to escape in this day and age, so your toddler will be exposed to TV at some point. Therefore it is probably better that you allow them to watch some TV (that you can monitor).

One to bare in mind - Your toddler will pick up on how much TV you watch and will notice things, even if the TV is on in the background. Also, if you limit the amount of time your toddler watches TV, make sure you play by the same rules (at least until they have gone to bed anyway).

Even thought here are a lot of negatives, I think allowing your toddler to watch a small amount of TV a day is beneficial to your toddlers growth and development. As a parent you need to make sure that the TV your toddler watches are good, educational programmes.

Some top tips when it comes to your toddler watching TV

  • Make sure you have seen the programme before so you know exactly what your toddler is being exposed to.
  • If you find it difficult to turn the TV off because of your toddlers tantrums, make sure your toddler has another activity set up so they are not bored
  • Make sure the time not spent watching TV is productive (e.g. go out on a trip somewhere)
  • TV can be a good wind down. If you have been out all morning and your toddler is tired, lying quietly on the sofa with the TV on isn't going to hurt while your toddler regains their energy
  • Allowing your toddler to watch a half hour programme so you can do the washing up is not going to do any harm. Don't feel guilty, just make sure that your toddler has some stimulation away from the TV afterwards.

TV can be great, but make sure you remember it is no substitution for reality.