5 things to know about your toddler’s TV time

Remember the days when the TV was a couple of channels and kids’ programming was virtually non-existent? Where the Looney Tunes music had you haring down the stairs for the sole two minutes of cartoons that RTÉ deigned to show on a weekday? Those days are long gone – now with even basic TV packages, there’s plenty of choice for all ages, and at whatever time you want it. The question is, even if it is available, do you really want even your youngest family members watching TV all day long? How much is too much?

Should TV time be limited for toddlers?

Absolutely. The common advice is that children under the age of two shouldn’t be allowed any screen time at all, as they should be engaged in interactive and physical play. They won’t be able to make sense of what’s on the screen, and the hypnotic quality of the TV is not good for their growing brains.

What about older children?

Even as your child grows, it’s recommended that screen time is limited to an hour maximum a day. Physical play is better for your growing child’s mental and emotional development, as is social interaction with other children – neither of which is possible if your child is glued to the cartoons. Once your child reaches school-going age, doctors recommend that screen time should be no more than one to two hours a day – and this includes computer, smartphone, tablet etc.

More like this:
Five ways to deal with a clingy toddler
How can I control my toddler’s TV watching?

A good idea is to plan what your child is watching. For instance, if your child enjoys Peppa Pig, record a few cartoons and switch off the TV as soon as they are over. Give your child a warning just before the end to help her prepare mentally for the next activity.

Should I watch TV with my child?

It’s always good to spend time with your child, and watching TV with her can turn the activity into an interactive one. If you rely on the odd cartoon to allow you get some housework done, try taking the task into the room with you, so you can be with your child yet get your work done. However, don’t be tempted to watch TV at family mealtimes; as your children get older, these are great times for you to interact and bond as a family, and the earlier you treat mealtimes as a family occasion, the more likely this will continue as your kids get older. It also helps to build good eating habits as you will pay attention to your body’s cues that you’ve eaten enough.

More like this:
33 times toddlers were disgusting!
Is all TV evil?

Not at all! There are some really good educational programmes on TV; the important thing is that you find them and help your child get the most from them. For instance, if there are numbers in the programme, bring the number taught in the programme into your day, by counting out spoons at a mealtime, for instance.

maternity&infant