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Is Baby TV a Bad Idea?

Doctors Say No Screen Time for Those Under Two

Telus' Optik TV is rolling out Baby TV starting today.  They're trumpeting it with press releases, but is it a good thing?  TV targeted at not only toddlers, but babies?

Founded in 2003, BabyTV offers 24 hours of top-quality content created by educational experts for babies and toddlers, in a commercial-free environment. It was designed to support parents by providing shows that explore early learning themes through fun, with an emphasis on parent-child interaction. [source]

Back in 2009 it was found that the Baby Einstein videos marketed to parents wanting to brain up their children were a fraud and complete refunds were to be offered to parents who bought the products. 2-years ago we discovered not only were those videos not helping our infants get smarter, they were probably having the reverse effect.

Physicians are signing on to a recommendation that no television be watched by children under the age of two.

Zero screen time.


Dr. Tom Warshawski, who is head of pediatrics at Kelowna General Hospital, said repeated studies have shown the problems linked to television viewing, including obesity and an increase in violent activity.


"It's somewhat artificial, but we do know that the first two or three years of life are periods of rapid brain growth," he said. It is widely believed the passive act of watching television interferes with this normal development, he said. [CBC]


Which is getting more and more difficult for parents to control. Kids aren't consuming less media, they're consuming more.

More than an entire day -- that's how long children sit in front of the television in an average week, according to new findings released Monday by Nielsen. The amount of television usage by children reached an eight-year high, with kids ages 2 to 5 watching the screen for more than 32 hours a week on average and those ages 6 to 11 watching more than 28 hours.


"They're using all the technology available in their households," said Patricia McDonough, Nielsen's senior vice president of insights, analysis and policy. "They're using the DVD, they're on the Internet." [LA Times]


I have to admit, we exposed Zacharie to television as an infant, falling for the Baby Einstein marketing. Doing the math, he's probably around 21 hours a week when you factor in morning and evening playtime as the tv fills noise in the background churning out Sesame Street, CBC Kids, Max and Ruby and Dancing With The Stars (all programs he loves).

But it's not just the TV that he's riveted to.

Zacharie loves watching videos on YouTube from my iPhone, on my lap at the computer or cranking out his own media on a portable video player like an iPad.  And his younger brother, Charlie, is no better (those are my iBoys in the photo at the top of this article). 

At 16 months, Charlie already knows how to turn on an iPod and flip through to find the apps he likes.  He knows where the remote is to change the channel and if I bring out my laptop, he clamours to sit on my lap and watch YouTube clips or family videos.

There is no doubt I'm in serious violation of all of the above. We still get into his playroom and run around with trains, we read books and escape to the park as often as possible, but that TV still acts as a pacifier when we, as parents, need to get something done.

How much tv are your kids watching? Will you watch BabyTV? Are we being selfish by using that tv to get a few moments to ourselves? Is it possible to achieve that zero hours of screen time?