Toddler watching TV
Is moving your tot away from the TV screen a daily battle in your house? Are you bothered that he is turning into a couch potato straining his eyes watching nonsense on the clicker? Do you yearn that he’d rather ride his toy car or play hide-n-seek with the neighborhood kids? TV is not only robbing your kid from the fun and frolicking childhood but also seriously impacts his health. But wait, is it you who switched on the TV at first because you wanted a break? And then you realized TV is a terrific baby sitter, that can entertain your tot for long hours and you can go by without bothering to listening to his tantrums, stories and might as well get a great break for yourself. No, not the best of parenting.

  • Why Is Your Toddler Addicted To TV?
  • Harmful Effects Of Watching Excessive TV On Toddlers
  • How To Break Your Toddlers TV Addiction?
  • Does TV Teach Children Violence?

Why Is Your Toddler Addicted To TV?

Some people refer to the television as a “drug” – and like any other drug, it has the power to be abused. A television can also alter the mind incredibly stimulates young kids, with the vibrancy of colors, loud sounds, violence, the starking differences from the real world. When a child should be inquisitive, asking questions and gathering information, he sits glued onto the TV screen, refusing to move or budge away. Why does a child, instead of exploring the world and asking questions about it resort to sitting glued to a screen? The reasons could be as follows:

  1. Entertainment
  2. Imitate you
  3. Peer pressure and social currency
  4. You treat your television as a ‘baby sitter’
  5. He feels he has nothing else to do

As a matter of fact, screen time reduces your child’s capacity to entertain herself, or to be occupied in developmental activities. However, a child keeps herself busy in front of the TV and you will probably have a chance to breathe and allow you breaks to attend to other chores, it will deter your child to realize her complete educational potential in due course of time. It starts with a few minutes, but it is addictive, for you and the baby both, and once you begin to use TV, the habit is difficult to get rid of.

Harmful Effects Of Watching Excessive TV On Toddlers

Let’s see how excessive TV viewing harms your kid:

  1. Obesity: Unhealthy eating habits and junks are promoted by the commercials in between the programs. Kids just want to eat everything that gets flashed on the screen and it makes it difficult for parents to administer healthy eating habits
  2. Poor social development: Kids prefer spending time watching TV rather than playing with peers. At an age where interaction is the main step towards development, a child who just sits glued to the TV stays away from socialization. This negatively effects the social and cognitive behavioral skills of a child
  3. Aggressive behavior: Violence, aggressive tones and language, and action is considered as acceptable behavior to solve problems. You may end up hearing unpleasant words and your child may take violence as a way of life. Remember, toddlers are highly impressionable! Your toddler may just take cues from the TV and you may be left feeling like a bad parent
  4. Stunted physical, mental, and emotional development: A kid who sits on the couch and does nothing but moves eyelids will have a stunted physical growth. Though he may not look busy to you, but he has really important developmental work to do by engaging in the world that is real- and not imaginative. Instead of exploring the world, and asking you questions, he will simply sit munching his snack on the couch. He also misses out on his emotional development because he does not interact with people
  5. Deteriorated eye sight: Today’s families’ are pressed for space, but technology makes them have a 36 inch screen TV in a small room. A kid’s eyes get strained on watching TV from such closeness and excessive watching could result in a deteriorated eyesight early in life. Strained eyes cause headaches too
  6. Introversion: Excessive TV leads to trouble for kids in adjusting in preschool or kindergarten. They become less cooperative, imaginative and enthusiastic because they are unable to communicate effectively by reading and writing. These kids have a hard time transitioning from being visual learners to become listening learners when they join school
  7. Lowered intelligence: Children who watch TV a bit too much have trouble in recognizing letters and numbers when they go to school. Intelligence is the result of observing, thinking and understanding. Like other organs, brain needs to be exercisedHarmful effects of TV
  8. Delayed Language skills: A child who does not interact will have speech and language problems. Passive listening to TV will only hinder language development and your kids attempts to communicate will also diminish. Your child may miss this important milestone
  9. Increased vulnerability to ADD/ADHD: The period from birth to three years is a crucial and is a phase of rapid development. TV happens to rewire the child’s brain, and in turn the child tends to have shorter attention span and problems in concentrating. Kids should be effectively stimulated to enhance communication skills
  10. Learn the wrong things: Tv depicts life in an unnatural and cartoonish way. A child who watches a lot of TV would perceive that life is a faced paced game with a button on it. Impulsiveness will rule his mind and patience will take a backseat. Not everything in life is a happy go lucky episode!

How To Break Your Toddlers TV Addiction?

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends no television for children under two years of age, and just about 2 hours at the max for kids above 2. To this end, hooked on to the TV is unhealthy and must be immediately attended. Here are a few tips to wean your tot off TV:

    • Transform home and family: To get rid of TV from your child’s life, you will have to make certain changes in your family and home, such as follows:
      • Remove TV from your tot’s bedroom. Let him associate bedroom for sleeping before listening stories
      • If possible, use built-in hidden TV cabinets. This tames habitual watching
      • Move the TV farther to the top floor. Keep it off and remote out of your kid’s reach
      • Disable TV/VCD from your car
    • Provide alternates: It is likely that your kid resorts to TV for entertainment and passing time rather than moving somewhere and spending his energy.
      Engage him with:

      • Sticker/coloring books
      • Board games/toys/cards/Lego bricks
      • Story books
      • Art/craft/drawing materials
    • Organize your tot: Best way to curb TV addiction is to keep him busy.
      • Arrange play dates
      • Enrol him in sports classes
      • Plan outings to museums, planetariums, live theater. This kind of interactive experience offers learning and cultural encouragements

Excessive TV

    • Set a good example: Avoid watching TV while your kid struggles with the homework. If you ‘shh’ him while watching your favorite show,” that’s the attitude he’ll eventually adopt. Instead read book or write diaries to give an impression that TV is not the only pleasant experience
    • Watch TV programs not just the TV: Let your kid decide what he wants to watch. TV watching should not simply be a mind-numbing time pass activity. It should be actively attended not stared blankly. Keep the set turned off when no one is watching. It distracts
    • Don’t set daily limits: This will avoid sending the message that there’s a certain amount he “should” be watching every day. Let days pass without TV. Daily viewing easily becomes a habit and children tend t squeeze out their TV time from anywhere
    • Prohibit TV and videos during play-dates: Kids need time to play and interact with their peers, wherein television only acts as an impediment. Use your right to exercise a firm “No”. Read more on organizing play dates here
    • Watch together: This provides opportunity to talk about what your tot thinks is going on. Ask questions, comment during commercials. This inspires critical thinking

Organise Playdates

  • Record shows: It saves viewing time and lets you zip through the ads promoting junk food, violent movies, and toys. Ditch the cable/regular TV connection. -Use internet TV to watch specific shows
  • Be firm: Don’t give in to your infant’s tantrum. Kids who don’t drink sodas growing up don’t usually develop a taste for them. The same applies for the TV. Don’t just think about the baby you are dealing with now – think about the adult you are raising him to be
  • Encourage old fashion play: Playing boosts imagination, creativity, social cooperation, and physical movement. This is pivotal for emotional and social development. A simple game of marbles of catch would help your child develop his motor skills for life whereas TV will not help
  • Treat TV as privilege: Take advantage of the TV to show things which your kid might not otherwise see in daily life. Such as exotic animals, distant lands, musical instruments, historical places, and diverse lifestyles
  • Play videos which teach manners and moral values: TV is just one confusing array of bright, flashing light and noises for your tot. He may not be able to comprehend everything. He is unable to distinguish between the truth and pretension on TV. This may paint a picture of a frightening and awful world out. His neural development is further affected by the hypnotic effect of TV

Does TV Teach Children Violence?

Lets run through your TV channel menus for once. News of rapes, terrorism, violence, burglary, murder would be everywhere. Even the general soaps have the drama these days. Look at the cartoons – bam, boom, dishoom. What is the child learning? Many studies have concluded that TV makes a child more aggressive, and they tend to desensitize children off human values. A 15-year-long study by University of Michigan researchers found that the link between childhood TV-violence viewing and aggressive and violent behavior persists into adulthood. The concept of “good guys” beating “bad guys” can impact the children to be like their “good guys” in TV and they may conclude that “violence” is accepted to tune in good.These kids accept violence and aggression is the only way to solve their problems. Gosh!

Children were previously raised without TV and you can do it too. Once addicted, turning off the TV can become a daily battle. So act now! Risking your child’s development is too high a price to pay for keeping her busy and giving you a bit of free time.