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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.

gazzalw Wed 10-Oct-12 11:04:42

Or of course they could ensure that the children's TV programmes are all highly educational...

carybaz Wed 10-Oct-12 11:40:27

I'm very interested to see how positive and balanced most of the responses here have been. This confirms my hunch that parents are pretty sensible where TV and toddlers are concerned. But for those who feel guilty or think that TV is a bit of a waste of time, do consider my suggestion that little kids may be actually learning very intensely when they start to watch TV. Later they probably pick up on household attitudes and behaviours around TV. If you think TV is not very important and not worth much real attention, so will they (until later on when they pick up on playground fashions, or later still when they discover cult series!) If you seek out programmes - and DVDs - that you really like, and encourage your kids to talk about them, they'll see these media as important and worth thinking about. Please visit my blog at

ZombTEE Wed 10-Oct-12 11:51:09

Nice advert there, Cary...

HanSolo Wed 10-Oct-12 11:54:23

badvoc I don't think television has a monopoly on learning- my children knew all their sounds and numerals aged 2.7, from parents, extended family, nursery etc. with no television at all.

There are many quality television programmes available, many of which are educational, and I don't think there should be a blanket ban until 3, however in the early years, there is no substitute for one-on-one interaction with a consistent care-giver, and I would like to see an end to programmes aimed at under-2s, and any programme that has product placement, associated toy/clothes/food tie-ins for any children under 12.

HanSolo Wed 10-Oct-12 11:57:15

Tee? Is carybaz part of MN blog network?

KateMumsnet (MNHQ) Wed 10-Oct-12 12:10:32

Hi ZombTEE

Just to confirm that Cary is indeed a member of the Mumsnet Bloggers Network, and, because this thread is in the Bloggers Talk topic, it's fine for her to link out to her blog.

MmeLindor Wed 10-Oct-12 12:17:35

I think a blanket ban on TV for under 2yo is no use, tbh.

Those who use TV as a virtual babysitter will just download/buy videos. And as I said on my blog post - the ones who really plonk their kids in front of the TV all day are not the ones on here discussing which programmes are educational.

Limiting TV use is good, but banning outright just makes kids want it more, imo. Not at toddler age, but when they are older.

Maybe we should concentrate on sharing tips for good programmes and persuading the TV companies to schedule more educational and interesting programmes, than considering banning altogether.

ivykaty44 Wed 10-Oct-12 12:36:45

I used to be friends with a child who was never allowed to watch tv as they didn't have a tv and this was years before the internet and the likes of iplayer.

The child would come to play and it was the most boring playdate ever as all she wanted to do from the minute she got through the door till the minute she left was - watch tv.

From this experiance I have never banned watching something for my own two dd's unless I feel it wasn't age appropriate.

MmeLindor Wed 10-Oct-12 13:02:28

My DH's nieces and nephews were like that - they had no TV at home and when they visited their grandparents they sat in front of the TV the whole time.

Littleraysofsunshine Wed 10-Oct-12 13:03:28

I think in moderation it's fine. smile

cherriemayhem Wed 10-Oct-12 13:10:37

I wrote a post on my blog about this topic too

Its much like other aspects of parenting - all about finding the right balance.

Good post

justanuthermanicmumsday Wed 10-Oct-12 13:27:22

I don't think parents are being demonised that's going a bit ott. I haven't got a tv, but once a week as a treat my 5&6 year olds get to watch cartoons or nature programmes like deadly60 on the bbciplayer. In that short time they become zombies, if I ask anything of them they don't reply. I have mixed feelings I think it has its negatives & positives. In moderation and supervised for content it can be ok. Total denial is not good either, because kids as they get older will find ways to access material without parents knowing, better they do it under your watchful eye.

Before primary school I don't see why kids need to watch any tv via a box or Internet. they're happy exploring and using their imagination. In answer to a poster who said how'd u keep 3 yr old away from tv, easy switch it off remove the remote. You're the parent you're in control not the other way round.

I would love to leave my kids on the I player more than once a week but I choose not to. To fill that void I have to spend more time with them which I could use to do my chores. Do arts, play in the garden, take them to the park, library.p, martial art. The have a busy schedule so there is no time for tv. They will get their full share of tv as they mature and become adults, hopefully I will have taught them to appreciate the short time they do have in doing meaningful activities.

Takver Wed 10-Oct-12 13:39:09

"The child would come to play and it was the most boring playdate ever as all she wanted to do from the minute she got through the door till the minute she left was - watch tv."

hmm We had no tv until dd was 7, and no screens until she was 4 (circumstances rather than principle). Strangely enough, she isn't some weird tv obsessed child - in fact to be honest she rarely watches tv at all as I think she isn't in the way of it, IYKIWM.

She does play computer games - lots when she gets a new one, not so much at other times - hardly at all right now as she's currently obsessed with playing Magic the Gathering.

I know a fair few dc who've grown up without tv (usually because of travelling / living off grid / in non-standard places), and have yet to notice any obsessive watching in any of them smile

PetiteRaleuse Wed 10-Oct-12 13:51:15

I'm of the everything in moderation school, was allowed to self moderate as a child and intend to do the same with my children (will step in if I think they are overdoing it). I have also blogged about it

I think the study and similar ones, while they do have a point, give parents another stick to beat themselves and others with. We have enough of those already.

ZombTEE Wed 10-Oct-12 14:09:06

Oh. Okay. Although I didn't mean the link.

ZombTEE Wed 10-Oct-12 14:10:44

I'm actually going to step away from this thread entirely and not blog about this. I find I don't really have anything to say.


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

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

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.

ActuallyMummy Wed 10-Oct-12 18:45:10

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...

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.

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 19:09:24

Ignore last post I was right the first Time lool

Longtalljosie Wed 10-Oct-12 19:21:11

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


I'd certainly hope it would be!

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

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.

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