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While almost every book/ article/ blog on parenting has dealt with screen time limits for children and some have condemned it altogether, I want to share a recent incident that made me think otherwise. One day as we were seated for dinner, my son a big fan of Thomas and friends began his rant about his favorite characters. As we were so used to this nonstop Thomas banter, we both kind of switched off. Suddenly he began explaining the entire functioning of a steam engine which sounded quite technical. We both were jolted into reality when we heard him and made him repeat the whole thing again. When asked," Where did you learn all this from”? He promptly replied, “Thomas and friends”.
The fact is that we all resort to the TV when we have some errand to finish or want to complete some household chores/ or just want some “me” time and don’t want our little ones to get in the way. So why don’t we do it the right way if we are doing it anyway. When my son was two and I was contemplating whether he should watch TV or not, and if yes, what would be suitable for him. Just then someone suggested CBeebies by BBC which is designed exclusively for the very young ones. They target an audience as young as 0-36 months. My two year old and I began watching CBeebies which used to be shown on Nickelodeon those days. From shows like Mr. Blooms Nursery to the Numtums, we watched them all. My son loved it and very soon he began singing all the songs that were played on these shows. His ability to recognize vegetables, numbers, shapes and alphabets grew at a rapid pace.
One big mistake we all make is that, we just leave the child in front of the TV and carry on with our chores. We often don’t bother to watch these shows ourselves. But for me these TV shows made me and my little one bond in a way that was unimaginable. Not only would I watch these shows with my son but once the TV was off, we would still continue humming the songs and role playing the characters we saw on TV.
Now he is four and yes he still watches TV. He has obviously graduated from CBeebies. But I still watch TV with him. Only when I am absolutely convinced about the quality of stuff he is actually watching, do I proceed with my chores. There are some amazing programs like Charlie & Lola, Umizoomi (this show taught my three year old to count from 1-100 which left me spellbound), Bubble Guppies, Little Einstein, Dora the Explorer and Mickey Mouse & Clubhouse which are not only educational but super entertaining as well. He is a big fan of Thomas & Friends which is again a super animation series to show your young one. Shows like Shaun & The Sheep & Sponge Bob Square pants are great. I avoid shows like Oggy & the cockroaches, Pakdam Pakdai. Doraemon, Pokémon etc. which do not contribute in the development of your child in any way.
We also take our son for animation movies and even download them if it’s good. Movies like Inside Outside, Angry birds, Despicable Me (1&2) are some terrifically made animation movies that take you to a different world altogether. He has watched them all .He picks up new words and surprises us with the kind of phrases he uses. He has even corrected my pronunciation a couple of times. Such is the power of television. If done the right way it can do wonders.
Nowadays with so much being said and written about screen time viewing, many parents are extremely paranoid and wary of letting their child watch TV. So please do not deprive your little one of the magic of television. Do monitor their screen time (which should not exceed two hours per day) and ensure they are getting a healthy dose of play time as well. Let your child cycle, swing, jump, slide and at the same time let him watch some television as well. It’s not so bad after all.