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I'm having another 'paranoid mummy' moment... (about my child watching TV)

(35 Posts)
emkaren Thu 26-Feb-04 22:46:50

... one of those in which I feel that I'm not such a good mum, which more often than not is brought on by reading German parenting discussion boards - everybody there always seems to be soooooooo perfect! So, would someone please indulge me by answering these questions:
How much TV does your child watch per day?
How old is your child?

Dd1 is 33 months old and watches an hour a day, sometimes an hour and a half, but on Mondays and Fridays, when she spends the afternoons at her grandparents' house, she watches loads and loads - not really sure how much, but I think it's basically the whole afternoon.
In Germany, however, many parents feel that children shouldn't watch TV at all until they are 3, and then only 5 to 10 minutes a day, in company of parents so it can all be discussed afterwards.

Clarinet60 Thu 26-Feb-04 23:04:18

I said loads on this before so don't want to bore again (archive?), but to reassure you, my son went through a phase of watching a lot around this age, but the novelty has now worn off and he does watches in moderation. Preschool TV is extremely education for the most part. From the age of 5, things deteriorate, quality wise. I wouldn't worry too much as long as she's doing other things (reading, playing, running around, etc. Children fill each minute they are awake and I think we forget that, as adults. She probably does loads of other things too.

BadHair Thu 26-Feb-04 23:23:19

Despite my best efforts to minimise tv watching, ds1 (then 2) discovered cbeebies a year ago, and would cheerfully watch it all day everyday. Before this he used to watch about an hour a day, max. There used to be major ructions when I switched cbeebies off (and had to unplug the tv at the wall to stop him turning it on again the minute my back was turned), but he's almost come through this now.
Had a bit of a problem recently with him using some extremely inappropriate language that we thought he'd picked up off eastenders or emmerdale (as that's the only adult tv he was allowed to watch), so they're now banned.
I don't really mind him watching cbeebies as its generally educational, but don't like the Clifford / Sergeant Stripes cartoon rubbish so try to distract him and turn it off before it comes on. Quite happy for him to watch tickabilla, storymakers, fimbles, bob-type stuff though.
BUT, because of ds1's viewing habits, ds2 is turning into a little telly-addict, which I DO NOT like. There's something really disturbing about a 16 month old sitting glued to the tv, so I try to do something else with him while ds1 is chuckling to himself over the antics of sarah-jane and justin.
Ds1 is now 3 and he watches probably about 5 hours per day, which includes whatever his favourite video is. This is more than I would like but over the last few days he's developed a habit of creeping downstairs at way before I leave the land of nod, switching the tv on and shoving a pingu video on. Now I come to think of it I really have to start unplugging the tv before I go to bed, as I really don't want him down here on his own watching tv.
But just to put it into perspective we do lots of outdoor and creative stuff too.

GeorginaA Fri 27-Feb-04 08:21:41

I have a horrible confession. Ds (2yrs 9mths) watches a horrendous amount of telly (well, horrendous to me). He watches about an hour at lunchtime (while I get lunch ready, and while I clear up - the latter part I tend to sit down with him while he finishes what he watches). An hour at dinnertime (same scenario) and about half an hour before bedtime (we both enjoy winding down to Little Bear on Nick Jr).

This pattern started when dh was working away from home, ds was very clingy and frankly it was the *safer* option to keep him away from under my feet while I cooked. We got a bit better once we moved, but now I'm pregnant and ds has dropped his daytime sleep the old pattern has returned. I imagine with a young sibling around that's not going to change in the near future

All that said, I'm not too worried about it (except when I read studies that stress 30 mins max or the world will cave in...) He seems to learn a lot out of it (Cbeebies & Nick Jr seem very very good in terms of appropriateness and education), will quite happily play at the same time as watching or jump up and join in. On nursery days, tbh he's too knackered to do anything else - who am I to deny him a good method of unwinding? He is aware that TV has "special" times, that it gets switched off.

Most importantly he has LOTS of other activities. We go out at least once each day (tumble tots, nursery, P&T group) and I try and do a short activity with him for the other half (drawing, reading, letters, etc). He helps me with chores. He has plenty of opportunity for free play which I give him attention during and sometimes join in. He is a conversant, bright, cheerful little boy. All my instincts (when I'm not on a "I'm a terrible mother" day) tell me that this kid is not hard done by!!

I personally don't think it's the amount of time sat in front of the telly that's the problem, it's the associated attitudes, whether there are other activities available, etc.

I enjoy the television, but I don't tend to watch a lot now. Yet when I was growing up the television was on lots. In fact, I don't have any memory of my parents having any other leisure activity outside the TV. My son sees me read, use the computer, watch TV, do crosswords, go for a walk, etc...

Everything in moderation, even moderation.

roisin Fri 27-Feb-04 08:47:25

Hi emkaren ... Personally I don't see much advantage in TV for pre-school children. Dss are 4 and 6, and their TV habits have varied over the years from none to half an hour per day max. Although they do occasionally watch a full-length film video during the holidays now.

But you have to do what's right for you, and if you find it's a good thing for her, then fine. At times we have used the TV for ds1 as a 'winding-down' thing.

Anyway - I didn't actually intend to get involved in a debate. Could you tell me the name of a good German parenting discussion board? My German used to be pretty good, but I'm aware that it has lapsed somewhat recently, and thought such a board might be fun, interesting, and good practice! Thanks

twiglett Fri 27-Feb-04 08:59:50

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GeorginaA Fri 27-Feb-04 09:43:18

"Also the TV has been my virtual saviour in this pregnancy"

GOD yes!

secur Fri 27-Feb-04 09:48:22

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lailag Fri 27-Feb-04 10:02:14

5 to 10 min a day, you must be joking. Now started borrowing free videos from the library as well. But don't think that is so bad, he seems to have increased his vocabulary with it.

lydialemon Fri 27-Feb-04 10:28:58

twiglet, you're not alone, we do the same thing.

We have the TV pretty much all the time, but its generally background noise. I have to have something on, a quiet house gives me the willys ( too much Stephen King I suppose!)

twiglett Fri 27-Feb-04 10:35:16

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Crunchie Fri 27-Feb-04 11:12:59

Well my kids watch too much telly, and they eat too much junk food, and they do far too many 'bad' things which mean my parenting skills must be c**p However Everything in moderation is my motto, so who cares if on a Sunday we spend the day curled up in front of the TV reading, watching TV, doing a bit of colouring etc. Other days they'll have a McDonalds (last night in fact), but the next day will be a nice roast chicken. TBH I don't give a monkeys how much others watch TV, eat junk food etc as there will always be someone holier than thou giving me a guilt trip. My kids are nice, reasonably well adjusted, intelligent, funny etc etc. So who can be bothered to care

wilbur Fri 27-Feb-04 11:13:24

Secur - ds is currently addicted to Lion King to the point where when you give him any food he quotes Timon and says "it tastes like chicken". Makes me laugh, really. Most of the time anyway.

zebra Fri 27-Feb-04 12:26:31

With the cold weather (several inches of snow on the ground, this morning!) I am struggling to find any non-video things for the kids to do. DD screams about the cold weather and DS is such a pain when we go out, I don't want to go out again after getting home from playgroup. You can only paint or read stories or play under a tent or the like for so long. Should get a lot easier when warmer weather comes back.

tallulah Fri 27-Feb-04 17:50:49

Just to play Devil's advocate here: I was a SAHM with DD & she watched TV WITH ME- we discussed programmes & issues at the time. She was restricted to certain programmes (used to be a watch with mother slot at lunchtime, & she loved the Narnia series on Sundays). She watched some cartoons (Dogtanian being the one that comes to mind) but not too much.

In contrast, I went back to work when she was 4 & my boys were 2.5 & 6mths. DH liked to put them in front of the TV so he could "get on" & certainly wouldn't dream of discussing a programme with them.

They are now 18, 16, 14 & 12. DD can take or leave TV- she has much more important things to do. DS1 will watch for a while then goes off to do something else. BUT the 2 youngest will sit in front of c**p cartoons till the cows come home. We have big fights about what they watch & when. It may just be personality, but I tend to think it was the indiscriminate viewing habits they learned as babies. Just a thought.

JJ Fri 27-Feb-04 18:10:39

I'm not going to get into the amount of tv my boys watch, but when I was growing up, we didn't have one. I went through many years of watching too much tv when I moved out of my parents' home and now still would, if it were in English.

But, I have a friend who had the same thing and she can take or leave it and doesn't tend to watch it even if it's there. Oddly enough, I still read a lot more than she does (and probably always have, but she's much better at other things, iyswim). I think it's really dependant on the personality.

Angeliz Fri 27-Feb-04 18:14:39

I think that as long as kids do other things too, t.v isn't bad. My dd probably watches quite a bit,(i've never actually timed it), but she does SO much other stuff that t.v is just a nice chill out time!

(When i see her smirking away to Big cook/Little cook it makes me smile)

LIZS Fri 27-Feb-04 18:56:08


I've found that German, and other European , tv just does not cater for the younger kids market in the same way as BBC. Whether reacting to lack of demand or they don't watch as programmes are less suitable, I don't know. they do have some slots for Bob, Blues Clues and a form of Sesame Street though. I was really surprised to find Bob the Builder clothing, for example, aimed at an older market than I'd expect in UK, but that may be because they start watching later. Cartoon Network (French) is the staple of many of ds's friends because it can be flipped into English but it is full of violence and fairly unsavoury cartoons, definitely not pre school fodder.

dd (2.5) watches about an hour or so over lunch time when she returns from playgroup (usually CBeebies) and we may, but not always, catch a bit of Nick jr later with ds (5) after school. Sometimes it is the only way I can guarantee harmony while I cook tea.

aloha Fri 27-Feb-04 19:10:16

5-10minute a day? They're having a larf!

tamum Fri 27-Feb-04 19:15:38

When I was a small child there were no programs on for children during the day apart from Playschool and Watch With Mother (even that would have made an hour though, come to think of it). This didn't stop me or my mother- on Monday mornings ITV used to put adverts on all morning, testing them out or something, and my mother used to sit me down in front of them while she did the housework. I also used to be an avid viewer of schools' programs when I was a toddler. If it makes anyone feel better, even with this diet of TV I did fine throughout school and got a PhD, so I'm sure a bit of CBeebies isn't harming anyone!

soyabean Fri 27-Feb-04 19:20:36

The difficulty i have found is that I was able to control ds1's telly viewing more or less as we could choose what to put on, what videos to have in the house etc. But with no 2 and no3 it is completely different especially with a big age gap. Ds2 is 4 and has been addicted to lion king, toy story and a few others since before he was two. I know I wouldnt have thought them suitable for ds1 at that age. Also tv goes on after school for the older 2 which I think is fine as a wind down activity but it does mean that ds2 has watched crap cartoons since birth...

fairydust Sat 28-Feb-04 14:07:10

Our t.v is put on as soon as dd gets up and then kept on in the background whilst ever were in and she's playing - colouring etc.

Iwouldn't have it any other way.

As these last couple of weeks it has really brought her on in her development - i personally think there is no such thing as the "perfect parent" i feel we all do what we "feel" is best for our children wether that be 5mins of t.v or 5 hours a day

musica Sat 28-Feb-04 14:24:12

Everything went pear-shaped for us when dd was born, and Cbeebies became our saviour! But I do think it is educational - the other day, ds was looking at the house next door and said 'Square window there, arched window there - where's the round one got to?' I haven't done any shapes at all with him. And the Shiny Show taught him to recognise numbers up to 6.

Issymum Sat 28-Feb-04 15:24:44

How do you persuade your children to watch so much TV? DD1 and DD2 won't watch alone and, even if I'm there, wander off after about half hour to cause havoc somewhere else. I'm left lying on the sofa with a glass of wine and a magazine threatening "If you go now, you'll miss Jake slapping Bella..."

Maybe we should subscribe to Cbeebies?

Bozza Sat 28-Feb-04 15:33:44

DS has no particular pattern to his TV watching - most days he won't watch any, some days he will watch a programme on cbeebies, more often 2-3 episodes of a video, Bob, Thomas, Mr Men, or occasionally (once a month?) a film (Toy Story etc). He has just turned 3.

We don't have TV on much - personally I hate that background thing which both my parents and PILs go in for. For a treat DH videos rallying and they watch it together with commentary from DS.

This week so far I think he watched 1/2 hour Mr Men before tea yesterday because he'd been swimming and then playing with a friend and had no nap so was tired. Think we might see significant increase in TV with arrival of baby though.

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