My Toddler Watches Television: Why I’m Not Ashamed of It and How to Use Television as a Learning Tool
The benefits of educational television for children, tips for making the most of television time with your child, and recommendations for educational programming
My little girl Willow is 2-years-old. She watches a fair amount of television but we also do lots of crafts, reading, and other activities.
I’m probably about to get “mom-shamed” but I have noticed many positive results from Willow’s consumption of media.
We do not own an iPad nor do I plan on getting one for my daughter anytime soon. She watches our family television in the living room so we can discuss what she is watching.
There are many teachable moments available when you’re watching a show with your little one.
Television can be beneficial if used appropriately
My 2-year-old daughter knows her ABCs, can count to twelve and knows all of the main types of dinosaurs (Triceratops, Tyrannosaurus-rex, and Velociraptor). She has learned most of these terms from the educational television we watch together.
The only time I leave her alone to watch television is when I clean the kitchen quickly or take our puppy outside to use the bathroom.
Otherwise, I am with her, singing the songs, and learning about dinosaurs and animals with her.
My husband and I know more about dinosaurs than we thought we ever would. The girl is obsessed with them!
Some people would argue that there is no right way for a toddler to consume media safely.
I am not a medical expert but I have noticed some very positive changes in my daughter since we introduced educational shows to our daily routine.
- She understands emotional intelligence more and wipes tears away if someone is crying.
- She is learning to share and show compassion for others from the many songs about social skills available on YouTube.
- She is singing and dancing more than ever before.
- She is copying the play she sees on television and is very good at caring for her baby dolls.
- She knows most of her animals and can even tell the difference between sharks and dolphins, gorillas and monkeys.
If you select the right programming, the possibilities for learning are endless!
Television safety tips for your child
- According to the Pediatric’s Association, the standard amount of television time for a child under the age of three is one hour per day.
- If your child is easily overstimulated, limit your television time.
- Only allow your child to watch shows that exhibit good values and are educational
- Implement a meditation or child yoga routine for after tv time to ground your child.
- Stay with your child and off of your phone, so you can discuss the show or sing along with them.
- Turn the television off for at least an hour before bed and during meals.
- Turn off the television to go outside at least once a day.
- Turn off the television if your child becomes overwhelmed.
- Turn off the television to read or do another activity as often as possible.
How to use your television to enrich your time with your child
It is not healthy for anyone to consume too much media, especially young children. I know many medical experts would disagree with my stance on television but I wanted to explain that when used sparingly and correctly, television can be a learning tool for your child.
What television is not:
- A babysitter for your child.
- A free for all, where the child watches whatever they want, whenever they want.
- A substitute for reading.
- A substitute for love and support.
- A substitute for real-life experiences.
What television can be:
- A way to bond with your child.
- A brief but fun distraction after an injury or emotionally difficult time (tantrum) for your child.
- An enriching learning experience, if you monitor what programming they are watching.
Recommendations for quality children’s programming
This YouTube channel is full of educational songs about sharing, personal hygiene, and wholesome relationships. They even sing a song about how couples help each other handle household chores and work together as a team to take care of their family. If your little one loves music, she or he will enjoy this channel.
Blippi is a children’s entertainer and Air Force veteran who takes our children on virtual tours of museums, zoos, aquariums, and police stations. He educates children on the various things he encounters on his adventures. His episode about the importance of police work is one of our favorites to watch. This show is interesting for adults and children alike.
An old classic. Sesame Street has always been a leader in wholesome children’s entertainment. Recently, they have introduced several special characters to their cast: A foster child, an Autistic child, and a child whose father is incarcerated. They have broken the mold when it comes to being inclusive. The clip below is an introduction to Julia, the Autistic character. This portrayal is both accurate and heartwarming.
“Cosmic Kids Yoga”
We want to make sure our children are active daily. During the winter or rainy days, it’s not always possible to make it outside. Cosmic Yoga is an excellent program that teaches children yoga by using scenarios that keep them engaged! Even better, yoga is proven to calm children down and alleviate anxiety.
When you watch television mindfully with your child, the benefits are greater than if you allow the television to take over. I am not a medical professional, but from my experience with parenting thus far, I have seen the benefits that educational television has had on my daughter.
Willow is thriving, she doesn’t have issues with focusing, she is smart, funny, and saying new words daily.
I think television is a great resource when you are actively engaged in the program with your child. Television should be used as a tool in your arsenal of learning.
Television is just a tiny piece of the puzzle. Reading books, outside play, and artistic activities should be a large portion of your day. However, there is nothing wrong with cuddling on the couch and enjoying some one-on-one time with your child.
“For a small child there is no division between playing and learning; between the things he or she does ‘just for fun’ and things that are ‘educational.’ The child learns while living and any part of living that is enjoyable is also play.”
Amy Cottreau is a freelance writer who hails from a small city in Atlantic Canada. She enjoys interacting with fellow writers, dreaming of ideas for her next article, and researching a myriad of topics.