My kids watch way too much TV. You know how in the olden days there were places where you could rent movies? And they always had some movie playing in the store in order to entice you to rent it? That’s kind of how it is at my house. The TV is almost always playing something animated to entertain my children in between their tantrums, mess-making, and all around destruction of my sanity.
I used to feel guilty about it. I’ve read the studies that say too much TV will give my kids some sort of disorder and that screen time is nothing but bad. I’ve felt like an awful parent.
But you know what? I’m tired of feeling guilty. Believe it or not, my kids watching TV has some serious benefits. For example:
1. TV teaches them stuff. Thanks to Super Why, my two-year-old knows the majority of her alphabet. Thanks to Sesame Street, she can count to twenty. I’m not saying I didn’t play a part in teaching her these things, or that I don’t contribute to my children’s learning. If I had a choice, though, between watching a superhero or muppets and accidentally picking up these integral pieces of information or sitting in front of my mom and doing flashcards, I would much rather learn it via animated entertainment.
2. They learn funny phrases. “Mom, me up chuck you!” Translation: “Mom, I want to give you a check-up like the doctor on Daniel Tiger.” Also thanks to Daniel Tiger, my son would say his version of “ugga mugga” before he could say “I love you.” Judging from the sloppy kiss he would give ne, I knew he understood what it meant. Kids pick up new words and phrases every single day and their interpretations are hilarious.
3. Watching TV increases their imagination. How would I ever have gotten my kids to understand the concept of superheroes without Super Why, or about flying to Mars without Curious George? My kids constantly race around the house with pretend capes, yelling “Zoom!” or run up to me explaining that the dinosaurs are coming and we need to hide. Without T.V., I firmly believe that they would not have a grasp of these fun and games until they were older. Their growing imagination makes them so much more fun at a much younger age.
4. It gives me a break. Call me a lazy mom or a terrible parent, but the fact is my two toddlers keep me on my toes from sun up to sun down and sometimes I just need a moment to breathe. I give them some milk, a banana, and turn on the boob tube before sitting down on the floor amidst a sea of Legos to just take a few minutes to rest.
5. Guaranteed cuddle time. As energetic as my kids are, it’s difficult sometimes to get them to just slow down long enough to give me a kiss as they race past me. Sometimes when I take that aforementioned break, I sit on the couch with them and my daughter says, “Mom? Me sit with you?” Absolutely, baby girl. She is still and quiet and snuggles up with me while we watch Peg and Cat do their thing. And I love every second of it.
6. It makes me a better parent. I am totally, 100% serious about this. The songs that they sing on Daniel Tiger have worked their way into my daily vernacular and I use them to teach my kids to clean up their toys, to brush their teeth before going to bed, to talk about their feelings. The Man in the Yellow Hat’s explanations of scientific concepts have taught me how to dumb down ideas to where my kids can actually understand them. The compassion and patience of animated TV parents has literally taught me to be more loving and gentle with my kids.
Perhaps I exaggerated when I said my children watch TV all the time. They probably watch more than a lot of kids, but there are so many benefits to it, and I’m tired of apologizing for it.
My kids watch TV and I don’t care.
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