We need some rules for ourselves, too, as parents, and it seems that one should be: ‘Turn off the TV when children are in the room with you’. What children need from us, what anyone wants, really, more than anything, is good attention, not divided attention.
Of course we need time to ourselves and our job is to parent not to entertain, but this recent USA Today article gives pause: http://usat.ly/pYehpW
The American Academy of Pediatrics warns about “secondhand television” in its guidelines for kids under age two: In addition to discouraging screen time for young kids, it warned against watching TV with them nearby, saying the practice hurts their language development. Austin pediatrician, Dr. Ari Brown, was the lead author on the recommendations,
So much parent-child interaction can happen when ‘nothing’ is happening, when parents are cooking or setting the table, folding laundry, or even reading the newspaper, if anyone still does that. The apparently idle times are opportunities for all of us to give a running commentary on life as it is unfolding – to the pre-verbal infant in the bouncy chair on the floor – or to recount our day and ask about our toddler’s or school-age child’s day.
The other night, as I was feeding my 20-month old granddaughter and – to slow her down, she was very hungry – I asked her if she could remember what she had for lunch, wondered aloud about the taste of the green (spinach pear?) goop I was spooning into her mouth, suggested she blow on the black beans which were hot from the microwave. I know I often eat too fast and realize that that isn’t good for my digestion. With her little stomach, she probably needed to slow down too.
But NPR was on… should I be worried about the ‘media drip’ of radio? …there’s another research topic. Perhaps I will write to Dr. Brown in Austin.