Pros and Cons: Toddlers and TV

A look at both sides of the argument whether TV is good or bad for your toddler.

Modern parenting duties include regulating the amount of TV that your children are allowed to watch. The decision is entirely personal, but here are some points to keep in mind.

Pro: Educational value
Educational TV programmes may encourage important cognitive development and expand your toddler’s horizons. Toddlers can see and learn about new animals and places, learn songs, find out how things work and learn about different cultures and religions.  With your active assistance, this exposure could help your child to grow up well-balanced and without prejudice. Discussing what your toddler has watched is an integral part of this. Studies show that the right kind of children’s programmes can introduce them to new words and languages, healthy habits and good behaviour.

Con: Limited interaction
Toddlers watching too much TV may miss out on valuable parent-child interaction and communication.  Research has shown that the first two years of a child’s life is a critical time for brain development, and TV can get in the way of healthy physical and social development. Paediatricians warn against letting children under two years watch TV that isn’t educational.

Pro: Calming entertainment
Sleep experts encourage parents to give their toddlers quiet time between bathing and going to bed. Certain TV shows with soothing content that will not excite them can provide entertainment during this period. Recorded TV programmes with tranquil music or nature scenes may help your toddler relax and unwind.  A small slice of screen time can form part of their bedtime ritual, as long as it is not longer than 10 to 20 minutes.

Con: Behavioural problems
Current research shows that toddlers cannot distinguish between reality and fiction. Inappropriate content (for example, TV programmes intended for an older audience) may frighten toddlers or cause nightmares or night terrors. Studies suggest that violent TV programmes may result in increased aggressive behaviour in toddlers. Dove.org can help you decide which movies are suitable for your toddler.

A moderate amount of TV for children over two years has both entertainment and educational value. It is important, however, to choose good quality programmes and where possible, watch with your child.

Do you have any favourite TV shows for your toddler?

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