How much TV per day?

Ruth Anne - posted on 09/07/2010 ( 36 moms have responded )

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One of the things I felt SO strongly about before my baby came along was that I didn't want her watching too much TV. A little can be fine, but I was bound and determined that we would not let her veg out on TV. I was raised without much TV and still believe it's a healthier way for kids to grow up.

I've held pretty firm, but now that my daughter's going on 18 months, Sesame Street has become part of our lives. Once a day. She's obsessed - "Sesame" is one of her very few words, along with "Emo" for Elmo. She engages with it - dances to some of the songs, talks to the characters, etc. She asks for it more often, but we're pretty consistent about only letting her watch once a day. (Since we record it, though, we can start it whenever - so it's not part of her daily schedule. I swear, though, it won't be long before she figures out how to work the TiVo remote and turn it on for herself.) And for the most part, we watch with her - counting along, talking about what we see, etc.

How much TV time do your little ones get? And are there other "Sesame!" addicts out there? (Books, pictures, stickers - if it has Sesame Street characters or even just their streetlamp logo, she zooms in on it instantly.)

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Mandy - posted on 09/18/2010

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Studies show that children learn better from real--world experiences than they do from viewing things on TV. HOWEVER, this does not mean that they don't ALSO learn from educational TV programs as well, and it does not mean that TV is harmful to them. Watching Sesame Street once a day is not going to harm your child. It's just not. If you child is engaging in the show and even saying words she learned from it, that is a good thing in my book. My oldest daughter learned so much from watching Dora and some other programs, including counting and Spanish.

Obviously watching shows that are not age appropriate is not good, and vegging out all day in front of the TV is not good either. Kids do need to have imaginative play and participate in real world experiences as well.

I worked part time when my oldest was a baby and she never watched it with me really, but her nanny had it on way more than I would have liked and that worried me. But she is now turning 4 and her preschool teachers say she is in the top 2% for kids her age. She is very smart and talks like an adult. We let her watch TV, but she also goes to preschool 3 days a week and participates in other activities like gymnastics and soccer, and we go to playdates. It's all about being well rounded.

My 18-month old watched TV because my oldest does. She has only recently started to sit through a whole program anyway.

Charity - posted on 09/15/2010

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We hardly watch any tv. I want her to grow up with puzzles and coloring books and crayons and books. She is so imaginative and loves to play. We read her books together. She points to the pictures and I say what they are or what the color is. We spend a lot of one on one time together. When she gets older she will watch sesame street and educational stuff. But I don't want her to start out with tv. But that's how I was raised and I loved it. It's up to each individual. I'm also concerned about weight. We spent so much time outside playing and keeping busy. Something bothers me about a child watching tv all day. Exercise and imagination are the two things I'm extremely set on when it comes to my own children. But it's entirely up to the each parent.

36 Comments

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Mayra - posted on 10/14/2010

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My son watches TV at some point during the day, the TV is on all day since both my husband and I are TV addicts, but he really doesn't watch as much. He stays frozen and glued to the TV during the Wiggles and Hi-5 (which are re-runs in Mexico), but other than that he plays around the house and outside most of the morning, and then again in the afternoons. He also likes Mickey's clubhouse, but that's on after his bedtime, so he only gets to see it in You Tube when we're at my parents house. I don't think it's necessarily unhealthy for kids to watch TV (that is actually how I learned English when I was a little kid, I myself was a Sesame Street junkie), I think it's what they're watching that is most important, and of course how long they're sitting in front of the TV as well...

Julie - posted on 10/13/2010

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My 18mnt old son is addicted to BArney. This started when i was having a problem getting him to eat his meals. Now when he see the TV come on he immediately takes his place on the couch and waits patiently until a Barney movie to come on. If it doesn the starts to cry. But i don't give in to it . However, of recent when he watches Barney he does not eat anymore - but just get engrossed in the movie so I yhave decided to stop the movie time during hsi meals - that is the only time that he watched TV. After cutting out the TV he now sits to have his meal then half way through that he walks about the room.... I have one Question tho.... How Do i make him sit down or sit at the table to eat.?

Melissa - posted on 10/13/2010

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I have sat here and read many post about how much TV should be or shouldn’t be watched. I have a 18 month old baby girl and my TV is always on Dora, Barney, ect.. Bree can say over 100 plus words, say abcdefghi, say 1234, knows colors, and she is just a wonderful happy well rounded toddler. She doesn’t watch the TV all the time as we go on outings, and we play a lot of games. She is on a tight schedule with a structured routine. TV has not hurt her at all!!!!

Hannah - posted on 10/09/2010

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My daughter is an Elmo addict too, she loves Sesame Street! She carries her Elmo toys around everywhere. I try to limit it to 20 minutes4-5 times a week, but occasionally she watches the whole hour ( when I have to shower, he he) I recommend the DVD The Best of Elmo 2, it's great!

Jodi - posted on 10/09/2010

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We didn't allow my 19 month old any TV until she was 15 months, I researched all the impacts that TV can have on a child, but it was my parental choice to allow her about a half hour to 45 minutes of TV a day. We have, literally, hundreds of books and read for Lord knows how long every day. At 19 months she has well over 300 words, can make sentences on a daily basis up to 5 words long, can count to 3, knows 8 alpha-letters, most of her colors and shapes and obeys like a dream. My thoughts...TV has not negatively impacted my daughter in the limited amount and content allowed, she has actually learned quite a bit of spanish from Noggin.

The TV does get turned off when she's not watching it because I did read a few studies that suggested that ADD was linked to the amount of background noise/activity a child is exposed to, basically, they can't pay attention because they're used to having so much stimulation going on at once, but at school, there is only one boring teacher, or at least, that was my understanding!

NEwayz, I see no problem with letting your child watch some TV, all day is unacceptable (I dont' just mean "on", I mean, a kid zoning out in front of the TV all day), but it's up to the parents to make that choice, although I do urge you to do some research and make that decision with the information you can get!



*edit to add

My daughter LOVES Elmo! Her first 5 word sentence was "My Elmo shoes have eyes!" lol I almost pooped my pants! (Needless to say, we have a LOT of elmo books!)

Leanne - posted on 10/08/2010

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Interesting responses! My 18 mos old has access to about 3 hrs a day....LOVES Elmo....knows the shows with "Zigby, Calliou, Wot Wot and Waybuloo. Her vocabulary is at least 75 words...can count to 10 with a little help and same with ABC's which she sings a LOT. I love it when she says "w"! At this stage I don't see the harm. She isn't glued when it's on.....the moment she's not watching i turn it off. We play games, colour and go outside for walks and to the park. It balances out

Abo - posted on 10/08/2010

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I used to love watching TV! until I discovered that I was preggies. I made a conscious decision to reduce my TV time so that by the time baby comes I wouldn't be so hooked. And yes,it worked - now I watch approx 30min TV per day and my daughter will be glued for the first few minutes,then will find something to play with or try and distract me.
I let her listen to her music CD, no videos yet - until she's >2yrs(hopefully).

Leah - posted on 09/24/2010

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We too watch Seseme Street with our 18 mo old, not every day and for less than an hour. For the most part we watch with him and talk about what he sees and I'm impressed by his interaction with it.
I think TV dangers when it's a veg out kind of state that slows down their metabolism and comes in the way of activity and reading. But it's a fun entertainment and I'd be lying if I said it didn't help me pack lunches and make breakfast in the morning without him clinging off my leg!

Kirstin - posted on 09/23/2010

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Read the research. I don't get the impression that kids are acting like mindless zombies. We're just not doing them any favors by introducing them to TV before their precious minds are ready for it.

Kate - posted on 09/23/2010

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I think it's about balance. My 18mo daughter has a couple of shows she likes to watch including the Wot Wots and Sesame Street (she calls Elmo 'Melmo') and Thomas the Tank Engine. So I let her watch Wot Wots in the morning and Sesame Street every now and again and we dance to Thomas music videos on the internet. We always have the morning news showing during the morning but she pays no attention to it, if she started to I would turn it off, but for now background TV doesn't get her attention so I don't worry about it. That being said my daughter also has outside time everyday, we go for walks, to the park and swimming together, we also read several books a day and she will often go and sit next to the bookshelf 'reading' to herself. She loves to draw and paint and spends hours playing little games that she made up which make no sense to me, but they are very funny to watch! We also put on music and dance around. So I suppose that what I am getting at is, just because you let your children watch TV or even have it on in the background, doesn't mean they are only sitting around like mindless zombies with no other developmental input. As long as there is a good balance and TV is not the primary focus I think we can give ourselves a break on this : )

Mary - posted on 09/21/2010

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We too have seen the negative effects of too much TV for children. So, in our home, we don't own a TV. We occupy our daughters time instead with wonderful games, books, toys, crafts, and outdoor adventures. She is 18 months old and isn't hooked on any shows, unlike her mother :-). Every so often, I will let her sit on my lap and we will watch some home videos on our computer. She doesn't care about cartoons, but she loves to watch short videos of her family. So, that's it for TV in our home.

Kimmy - posted on 09/20/2010

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My tv is on all day. It is usually on disney channel or nick jr. But i am surprised to say my son doesn't really pay attention to it all the time. He runs around the house and plays with our dogs for most of the day. He sometimes will sit with me and watch a show or two and he usually stops to dance when any music comes on but other than that he really doesn't watch much tv.

Kirstin - posted on 09/20/2010

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Nonetheless, TV for infants stunts cognitive development. I wouldn't risk it.

Sue - posted on 09/20/2010

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Our little girl, Chloe, only recently started to show an interest in watching TV, although she did previously love playing with the remote control!! But she does enjoy the night garden for a few minutes, and I've recently let her watch CBeebies whilst I'm cooking as it calms her down, last time she was glued to it for 10 minutes, which was really helpful. Other than that, she really isn't interested, as she is a very active little girl and likes nothing better than pushing her toy pushchair all around downstairs!

Renae - posted on 09/19/2010

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My 18mo gets very little TV time. Maybe half an hour a day. He really likes in the night garden, if I happen to remember to turn the TV on for it, which is about once a week. He likes some other shows but has never seen them frequently enough to take to one particular show. Some of the kids I babysit (all 18mos) like either Dora, Sesame street or playschool. I dont see anything wrong with it, especially when they are learning from it. I think you are doing the right thing by limiting it. I think some kids take more notice of it than others. I could have ABC on all day and my baby would hardly notice, he is too busy playing. But one of the little girls I look after will sit and stare at the TV all day if I let her so I leave it off (she points at the TV all day asking for "D, D, D" - the start of the Dora song).

Ruth Anne - posted on 09/19/2010

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Since a few people have mentioned it, I should probably have said that we read to our daughter for well over an hour a day. Her passive vocabulary is extremely large and her active vocabulary is expanding daily - we recently passed a watershed moment in her speech development and she's doing much more speaking. I was a very late talker, according to my parents, but a very early reader - the two activities were only a few months apart - so I'm not worried at all about the few words my daughter can say right now. She's also exposed regularly to other languages and is learning to recognize the differing sounds in them, and beginning to recognize certain words, but this can also slow active lanuage development. (I'm not a linguist, but did study linguistics at university, and have a career that has us live in different countries for 2-4 years at a stretch, with time built in before these postings to learn languages to the point of professional competency. Since foreign languages are going to be a part of my daughter's life, we've done a lot of research on multilingualism and language acquisition.)

I agree with a previous poster about the relationship between TV time and outdoor playtime. One thing my husband and I noticed when we moved back to the U.S. last summer was how rare it's become to see kids playing outside - even during summer vacation, even when the weather's fine, even in very safe neighborhoods with well-equipped playparks. I know the world is a more dangerous place in many ways now than it was when we grew up, but I don't remember missing TV when I was a kid - TV would have interfered with riding bikes and playing tag and hiking in the woods, back when curfew wasn't until the street lights came on at dusk or your mom called you in for dinner. Now it seems like scheduled activities have replaced unstructured play, but during the unscheduled hours, kids don't seem nearly as inclined to just go outside. I'm sure there's more to this, but as I said, it's something we're struck by.

Joanne - posted on 09/18/2010

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I kicked my have-the-TV-on-all-the-time habit when my daughter was about 2.5 months old. I like it for background noise, but I noticed she was constantly trying to watch it. Now the only time we turn it on when she is in the room is to put it on the toddler music channel. Today we passed a TV in a store and she started saying, "dancing!" - so she associates TV with music. I figure there are plenty of years ahead of her for television, so for now we're keeping to our no-TV rule.

Kirstin - posted on 09/18/2010

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It's important not to let kids watch TV before the age of 2. Your child would probably be saying MANY more words than that if you were reading to her rather than letting her watch TV.

Amanda - posted on 09/18/2010

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My daughter is 18 months and she's definately not a Sesame Addict. She zooms in on the tiniest picture of Mickey Mouse. Therefore she watched Mickey Mouse Clubhouse in the car when we are on our way to the grocery store and a little bit of Sprout on tv since it's educational. She loves dancing to the songs.

Carol - posted on 09/17/2010

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My son loves Disney, I feel sorry for him, in a week he will have a life tv free. (We are moving across country from California and I told my husband no TV, we have a dvd player. I dont know how my husband will fair, my husband is a huge smallville fan and its the last season. Right now hes happily unaware.)

Robbie - posted on 09/16/2010

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taniya do not watch tv much just a little, she like books and music, she will watch football with her dad for a min than back to books, when music come up she will stop and watch until it go off, and she is 18 months.

Tracy - posted on 09/16/2010

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I've tried to get my son to watch baby einstein or any kid movie he won't sit still long enough to watch 5 minutes of it and turns off the t.v. whenever it is on. he'll sit and enjoy a pile of books or mega blocks.

Dee - posted on 09/16/2010

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well along with carol i must then be the only other mum who has tv on all day. it makes me feel bad - but only from the other pressure of other mums... no one else. i spoke with my grandma about it, and she even said to me, we are justa family who has a tv on in the background. its on from when i wake till when i go to sleep, and sometimes even on when i am not even home. so that means my 18mnth old is also exposed. cartoons are on sometimes. Bella will sit down sometimes and watch the tv, but rarley for a long period.
There are ads she is attracted to, but really thats it. her physical and mental development all seem fine. she listens, she talks a little, she is quite smart in fact... understanding us etc... i feel tv has had no impact what so ever on us.. but then again you dont know till she is older.. but then i was brought up with TV on constantly too and i turned out fine.
It is total personal preference i think. and everyone is entitled to raising their children their way. i love tv. im fit, and happy.. please dont take it!! HAHA

Anna - posted on 09/15/2010

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My 18 month old has never watched T.V. Now my older kids, ages 6, and 10 year old twins, they can veg out. I set rules such as no utter stupidity (Chowder), or foul language or nudity. My twins like to watch educational programs and there is no limit to that, but I limit the other to 2 hours all together. SO the boys will watch a couple shows and my daughter will watch a couple and then anything else has to be educational. I have never thought to stick my baby in front of it, and the older kids never watched until they were 3 or 4.

Lisa - posted on 09/15/2010

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My 18 month old watches t.v. in small, intervals while her older siblings are watching. Her attention span is short, but she enjoys shows like Sesame Street and Dora. Sesame Street is designed for young children with educational aspects. I think that if you deprive your children of t.v., or other things similar, then they are more likely to struggle with learning how to balance it in the long run. I remember when I was a kid, my brother had a friend who didn't have t.v. in his home and whenever he came over, all he wanted to do was sit in front of the t.v. the whole time. It's important to find the balance of what is just enough.

Amy - posted on 09/15/2010

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our 18 mth old daughter loves sesame street. We try to keep tv to a minimum. In the a.m. she watches SuperWhy, Elmo's world n Word World and then it's turned off until evening when we might watch a movie with her or watch Wheel of Fortune n Jeopardy. (She loves the music n clapping for ppl) Maybe 3 hours each day? If she can go outside, I think she'd rather be playing outside then in so we make sure to take her out n go for a walk and play each day. I think as long as you keep the shows interactive instead of them just watching it on their own in a daze, it's not so bad. Emma especially loves SuperWhy for that reason...I always sit with her n answer questions they ask n sing along.

Carmen - posted on 09/14/2010

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Hi Ruth Anne,

Nikki is not interested yet in TV. However, he was born premmie by 10 weeks. Who knows, maybe in 10 weeks he will also be more keen. In South Africa Sesame only gets aired in an African language, there are other programs in Afrikaans and English on the free channels but we no longer have paid Satellite TV. We still have tons of Barney video's from Chanel. So I guess one of these days, he will watch an occasional Barney. However, we live on a plot and he just loves to explore outside. He keeps himself busy for hours just strolling around on the lawn, pushing a play pram, pushing a play-lawnmower, checking leaves, insects, etc. So no TV yet for Nikki and I am soooo glad.

Carisa - posted on 09/14/2010

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My oldest was 20 months when she discovered Mickey Mouse Clubhouse and so that is when I started letting her watch tv...we only allowed one or two episodes a day. But my youngest now has the tv on whenever my 4 year old does (she's 18 months) However, she only pays attention to about 1/2 hour total...she watches for a bit, gets distracted and starts playing with her toys. I wish I could limit her tv more, but it is difficult with an older sib. The one thing I do feel very strongly about is no tv in their bedrooms, ever (even as teenagers) They have done studies that kids are not getting enough sleep because they are on the tv/computer when their parents think they are sleeping.

And as for logos, my daughter learned the home depot logo when she was about 2...I thought about contacting them to offer her for a commercial.

Marcela - posted on 09/14/2010

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My brother and I never watched TV because we lived away from the city and had no cable. We would get excited when we went to grandma's house because she had cable. We're in the same boat with our daughter now. We chose to turn off the cable about a year ago and we only have Netflix and my parents are the ones who have satellite. She's not very interested in TV and I'm glad she doesn't know any character's name on TV. I think they recommend no TV for anyone under 2 and very limited TV for older toddlers.
We live in the desert where it's been over 100 degrees all summer, so we have to think of interactive things to do with her inside all day until it cools off at night.

Carol - posted on 09/13/2010

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This sounds bad but my tv is on all day. Our son really isnt allowed outside to play and the place we live everyone but me and my husband smokes and i hate smoking so he ends up coped up all day and the tv is on. The good thing is, he only likes watching Phenis and Ferb so for maybe 30 mins to an hour he watches tv and even then he stops for the songs. Other then that hes running around, and he goes outside with his dad when he works on our car.

Jonna - posted on 09/12/2010

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My daughter just turned 18 months and she has really started noticing the t.v. We would watch one of her videos that sing nursery rhymes. The whole video lasted about 20 minutes. But now she's in to Nemo. In all we watch probably about an hour of t.v. I'm like everyone else, if she gets tired of watching we turn it off. I don't want her just sitting in front of the t.v. all the time.

[deleted account]

My daughter is also a Sesame addict. She can say the names of almost every character (and she isn't even a big talker!) She's even named all her baby dolls "Abby," in honor of Abby Cadabby, haha. We also only watch it once a day, but when it's on TV, and if she loses interest, for whatever reason, I turn it off. She's also allowed to watch up to two movies a day, if she's good. If she loses interest at any point, the movie is turned off and not turned back on at any point during the day. On a typical day, we get about half of Sesame Street in, and maybe a whole movie (usually UP, or Toy Story 2), a total of about two hours of TV.

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