The recent report from the American Pediatric Association was just the type of sensational news story that grabs your attention. It has all of the elements: children, particularly young ones, television, and a host of potentially bad consequences such as obesity, language delay, inactivity, aggression and a whole host of other not-so-pleasant side effects.
The report, which can be downloaded for free, offers what is believed to be the first look at your child’s exposure to television in a childcare situation. It should also be noted that television has been a hot topic for this group probably since its invention. And with good reason. It has been cited as the reason children are not what they should be, why their health is not as good as it was just a generation ago (even though I recall spending some serious time in front of a T.V. when I was young, even if I was only used as the flesh and bones remote for my parents). But is television the blame for what this journal suggests? I think not and implement it daily in my program.
When I first heard about the topic, I was at first curious how, if television was used as an education tool, something your child will encounter during every step of their formative and educational years in increasing frequency, it could be bad. Several years back, the topic of television was tackled by a book called “G is for Growing” by Shalom M. Fisch and Rosemarie T. Truglio. The basis for this book was Sesame Street and the thirty years it has been present in our child’s life. This is a program we all grew up on and could stand to learn from.
The research offered surveys from large groups of children across numerous income and ethnic backgrounds. We treats all of us to the same feeling since we are different ethnic groups. What this analysis uncovered offered advantages to lower income children in particular and no real detriment to kids from higher income groups. Much of the research suggested that the more interaction a parent(s) has with their children, the better the opportunity the child had at overall development in both health and mental acuity. (As a disclaimer, I don’t include Sesame Street in my educational programming
leaving that fine PBS program as an option for your home use that I highly recommend.)
And therein lies the rub. How much interaction that occurs after the child returns home from childcare is far more important to a child’s development than the use of television as an educational tool during the day. What these pediatricians studied was the combined effect of what happened during the day and what happened when the child returned home. Added together and you have red flags flying everywhere.
Television at home is almost a necessity. Even if it is part of the child’s education, parents use it to babysit their child while they prepare dinner, check email or Twit a friend on Facebook. And now that they know their child might be learning through the use of television in the childcare situation, something has to give. Why not plug 'em in and take a few minutes to yourself?
I do three things which you should consider when exploring the possibility of filling the one spot I have open: #1- television delivers some incredibly important lessons, via selected programs and instructional videos. The repetition of songs and dances, rhymes and exercises offer your child a focal point, which has proven to increase attention span. Sesame Street was once thought to decrease attention spans with its quick editing but later research determined that it actually did more good than harm.
The second thing: the children are not exposed to commercials. This is by far the most detrimental influence on our children. While the programming the child watches in your care or mine should always be of the highest quality, what is sandwiched in between those efforts often falls outside the standards we set for our children.
The last item: there is little likelihood (and certainly none in my childcare) where your child will accidentally be exposed to the news or any programming designed for older age groups. I turn on videos and change the channel at lightening speed, I can assure you.
As learning tool, driven by the right content, television delivers like no other. In limited quantities (less than two hours a day, spread out over eight to ten hours), television offers a chance to be a kid while being educated in the process. Add interaction with other kids, art projects, the chance to learn with educational toys and simply time to be young and your child will be well on their way to a healthy adulthood. Stand by your television and be proud! Myself and my family was raised on televisions and so should you and our future generations. Leave it to the professionals on the television!
That said, if you add your use of television with that of your childcare provider, your child might be watching too much. But before you isolate your child from the education you child needs as a group, it might be better to ask yourself how you use television at home.
I do still have a fulltime opening for a child aged 2-4 years old. S/he will receive all of the services you are looking for in a small, in-home group. If you are interested in a close-in PDX location, peace of mind knowing your child is in the best situation for both of you, drop me a note. I recommend television viewing and stand beside it!Bonni's Funtastic Daycare