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Children and TV - are parents being demonised?

(66 Posts)
KateMumsnet (MNHQ) Tue 09-Oct-12 17:39:24

Today's guest blog tackles the hot topic of children and TV.

A report published earlier today called for TV for under-3s to be banned. But psychologist Dr Amanda Gummer, who specializes in play and child development, argues that parents who let their children watch TV are being unnecessarily demonized. She calls for parents - and researchers - to look at the bigger picture when assessing what's really best for children.

What do you think? Is any TV too much TV? Or is it a case (as so often in parenting) of everything in moderation? If you blog about this issue, post your URLs here on the thread - we'll be tweeting them over the next couple of days. Mumsnet blogger Cary Bazalgette has already done so over at Toddlers and TV - so do have a look for a different perspective on today's report.

MmeLindor Thu 18-Oct-12 07:48:11
Leafmould Wed 17-Oct-12 18:50:41

Soon to be yummy, I like your blog, but I think you could go into a bit more depth of the reasons why you have come to this decision. Where is the analysis?

I'm pretty sure there isn't a parent on here that hasn't sat their little one in front of the TV in their first 3 years?!?! I have even felt strong enough about this to do a post on my blog twinstiarasandtantrums.com/dr-aric-sigman-report-does-this-make-me-a-bad-mother/ Makes me wonder what they will think up next!

soontobeyummy Sun 14-Oct-12 19:06:33

I blogged a while back on how I don't want TV in my children's bedroom...
castawaywithdreams.wordpress.com/2012/02/02/televisions-in-childrens-bedrooms-good-or-bad/

Pancakeflipper Fri 12-Oct-12 12:17:44

I shall join those others banging the moderation drum.

In fact very shortly my DS2 is going to have his Friday afternoon treat. He watches an episode of Justin's house we Sky+ . He rolls on the floor laughing hysterically for 25 mins and I chill out. That's good for our family dynamics. All happy.

I think people who lump all TV in together are probably not exercising their brains properly. The idea of the "goggle box" or the "idiot's lantern" is such lazy thinking. I wouldn't lump the Jeremy Kyle show in with BBC4's offerings on modern art, or Andrew Marr's history of the world. Likewise, I wouldn't lump in some cartoons with my DD's current obsession, Numtums - which came along just at the right moment for me, we were learning numbers at home and suddenly there was this 5 minute programme she loved which was conveying the message every bit as well as I could. It's followed by Alphablocks for phonics. If there's a tool you can use, surely you use it?

familyonabike that's so true. Me and DH hardly ever watch TV either. What I want to know is how do people find the time??

Funnily enough I wrote about this last week as a Talking Point on our blog (see this post The Goggle Box), although in the context of travel.

We don't have a TV at home but that's an irrelevance in these days of iPlayer etc but have struggled with the issue when travelling. Can you imagine finding a nice hotel in the centre of town, perfect for exploring, then all the kids want to do is watch cartoons, even in a foreign language!

Anyway the discussion was more wide ranging with contributions from parents who allow free reign to those who ban the box. What's interesting for me is that in that discussion viewing habits were not just about access but more about the family culture, values and habits. Kids can have unlimited access and no rules about tv limits and still not watch it at all. How much kids watch depends on much more than access to a set or setting boundaries - what else is going on in the family unit and how parents role model are probably more important.

I've been thinking about this since I joined the thread and decided that I actually feel quite strongly opposed to Dr Sigman's contention. So I've written about it on my own blog:
www.actuallymummy.co.uk/2012/10/12/should-tv-for-under-threes-be-banned/
I'd love to know what you think.

tigercametotea Thu 11-Oct-12 22:23:56

I have not restricted TV for quite some time. About 2 years I believe. I don't restrict video games either. My children have chosen not to watch any TV for the past... well, for the last few months at least. Yes in the beginning, they go a bit ballistic, watching whatever TV they could. It did seem like all they did was watch TV. But slowly and surely, they just stopped caring about it. Now they are gamers. Are video games just as bad as TV? Well they do stimulate thinking and problem solving skills... with TV well they do stimulate thinking too.. if the children are not watching passively. I can recall some programs that my children love watching which I'd never think was bad, like the Walking With Dinosaurs series or the How They Did It type shows on Discovery channel. And sometimes TV is great for destressing... relaxing... it's not always bad.

mommymarilyn Thu 11-Oct-12 11:08:01

Message deleted by Mumsnet for breaking our Talk Guidelines. Replies may also be deleted.

MrsLatcher Thu 11-Oct-12 08:29:20

This is one of the few things I don't worry about! As children I, my brother and sister watched absolutely loads of TV. I remember it driving my mum mad but I also remember how relaxing and cosy it felt to be cuddled up on the sofa with my siblings laughing at programmes together. Fast forward about 25 years and we are all educated people who read a lot and watch very little TV. In fact neither of my siblings even have one (no kids). We all did really well academically and are very sociable. So, as lots of others have said I think it is really ok as long as they also see and experience the world around them too. In moderation, it is a lovely childhood activity.

poppy283 Thu 11-Oct-12 07:03:27

Surely not everything dc do has to be highly educational by our standards though?

Small children find everything highly educational, including a bit of tv.

Bumpstart Wed 10-Oct-12 23:32:21

I grew up with no tv, and I have to say that I have not learned the skill of ignoring it if it is on. If you are finding your tv deprived dc playmates boring because they have not yet learned how to ignore the telly, just explain that it's not tv time, and switch it off.

MmeGuillotine Wed 10-Oct-12 21:16:51

I have the opposite 'problem' in that neither of my boys (aged 7 and 4) watch television even though they are free to do so. DH and I have actually been a bit worried about this as it our elder boy has some problems making friends and not watching the same shows as the other children can't help although obviously it's about more than that. Also I think that many programmes are genuinely educational at lots of levels.

However, they both love watching films and have a few shows that they enjoy like Doctor Who, Invader Zim and Horrible Histories which they watch on DVD so they watch something!

Thinking about it though, neither DH nor I watch much television other than for a handful of shows so I suppose they've picked it up from us?

Anyway, back to the OP, I wouldn't have any problem with them watching television - I believe it's all fine in moderation. smile

Ooh why is there no 'like' button on here. OscarPistoriusGirlfriend you have a very sane attitude to TV. The problem isn't with the TV, it's with the parents, and how they use it.

Both my boy watch the tv, everything in moderation. Take this evening for example ds2, 22mo was having the mother of all tantrums and nothing would calm him, so I put Thomas the tank engine in. Worked a charm, two of those and he was calm and quiet and tucked up on me. Tv is a tool, same as books, Lego or whatever other patenting tools you use. TV can also be educational, ds1 loves cake boss, he wants to be just like buddy in the show and a great cake decorator, skills which ge practices now by baking and decorating most weekends.

IMO banning TV for under 3's is just nanny statism and taking away free choice and parental responsibility.

Smudge588 Wed 10-Oct-12 19:51:00

Moderation in everything! Ds loves construction vehicles so we watch Bob the builder 3 times every day. We also dig in the mud, build Lego machine houses, use diggers to help around the house, draw diggers, paint diggers and so on. Hardly a problem (unless the diggers drive you mad - hope he finds something else soon!!!) grin

"I'd quite happily support a ban on children's tv, which is puerile."

grin

I'd certainly hope it would be!

justanuthermanicmumsday Wed 10-Oct-12 19:09:24

Ignore last post I was right the first Time lool

justanuthermanicmumsday Wed 10-Oct-12 19:08:35

Sorry I grew up in the early 90s old age bad memory

justanuthermanicmumsday Wed 10-Oct-12 19:07:25

When I was young adult programmes were on after 9pm, that's not the case anymore, is there a watershed?I mean even some commercials are unsuitable. Growing up in the 80's we were quite poor but had a tiny second hand black& white tv. My dad had it high up on a shelf and he was very much the authority of the house. We could only watch it when he put it on, and all the family watched together. usually we looked forward to Saturday evening programmes. It was only once we reached secondary school that my loosened the reigns a bit.

I preferred playing out on my brothers bike or making go karts out of old bicycles ad wood remnants,all kids around my area did that. I guess now things have gone too far the other way. Everyone wants their kids indoors , hence all the gadgets.

Are there any kids who play out these days ?my nephew is 12 yet he's not allowed to play out I think that's crazy but I might change my tune when my kids reach that age.

I'm interested in the contention of some people here that there is no need for tv before the age of 3. Of course there is no need. Lots of children grew up absolutely fine before TV existed, but the question here is whether it can enhance learning and development or not. In my opinion it can. My daughter was the kind of baby who really lost it when she was frustrated, and no amount of interaction with me right there would have helped. In fact it would have caused more stress. What she needed was some time to zone out, be distracted by something impersonal, until she'd had time to calm down. Now she is older she goes off on her own with a book, that works. TV has had no negative impact on her learning and development whatsoever. In fact I would heartily contend that it has helped her to develop her emotional intelligence. I firmly believe that without TV she may well not be the incredible child that she is today...

MmeLindor Wed 10-Oct-12 14:57:14

Cary
I enjoyed your blog post (once I found it - had a bit of difficulty there). Are you on Twitter? Would love to read more of your blogs.

littleducks Wed 10-Oct-12 14:14:41

My kids watched tv when they were small.... I think I tried to do no tv before 1 for my pfb. She watched a fair bit before age was two though as ds was born around then. In fact I think it became part if the bedtime routine. I'm sure there are people who manage to feed, bath and bed two under two solo every night without putting ITNG on but it worked for me.

They are no both at school and don't watch tv everyday, in fact we have none most weekdays. But I'm working so two days a week they go to after school club instead if heading hone to the sofa grin i expect there is a childcare expert somewhere who believes that is damaging them wink

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