When I reasoned it out on my own I decided that a good amount of time a day for a preschooler would be around an hour. That would be an episode of Teletubbies or Cbeebies and an episode of Dora – perfect. Some fun education and Spanish – that would also give me an hour to clean the kitchen and get something on the stove. Perfect, right? Oh and when they are older this hour should increase to maybe 2 or 3 hours a day, right?
Once I started doing some reading – it turns out that an hour’s allowance is not so reasonable and not so perfect. One expert suggested that 15 minutes four times a week for a preschooler should be sufficient. What?!!
Instead I had to promote outdoor activities and sports to spark their imaginations. Does television stunt the imagination? Well maybe having the story played in front of you is a bit of a giveaway when you consider the effort required to imagine Narnia. Gosh I loved Narnia – the ship, the jewel encrusted belly of the dragon, the awful Edmund (yes I know he was good in the end- but still…). It was read to me during my varsity holidays. I was an only child for 13 years and suddenly there was a pair of pre-school kiddies running about – and my mum turned lunch time into story time. What I’m trying to say with my aside into childhood, well my sibling’s childhood anyway – is that maybe 15 minutes is ample.
I saw some worrying stat’s when I watched a documentary about obese children the other week – a child is likely to eat more while watching television than if she sat at a table and ate without telly. As an adult who has dieted most of her life, I would rather my kids have a head start on being able to detect their body’s cues as to whether they are full. So television at mealtimes is definitely a no no.
The television is not a cheap replacement for a nanny either I suppose. Darn-it. Yes every mother needs just a bit of time to herself but television is not a responsible lifeline, I say grudgingly while adjusting the rusting halo above my head. What is the solution then to keep me from tearing my hair out?
Change things round – make it an hours reading time instead of television. Getting children to like books once they’ve had the visual stimulation of television can be difficult. Persevere, restrict or cut it out completely. Seething hateful glances will soon turn to pouting frowns and stamping feet – and if you listen carefully one day you will hear a giggle. Your child will have just read something humorous and be fully engaged in their book. And you’ll think – wonderful – finally I can do the dishes, make dinner, reschedule piano practice, decide what to send for lunch tomorrow…
This entry is rather sparse on facts but Google is a vast treasure trove of information. Here are a few sites below you can take a look at for more information:
http://www.mediafamily.org/facts/facts_tvandobchild.shtml **recommended resource