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TV as Family Entertainment: Little Kids

by YPI Editors | September 6th, 2016 | Entertainment, Entertainment, Infants/Toddlers, Preschool
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Toddler-and-parent-on-couch-watching-tvLet’s start with the acknowledgement that there are other screen options besides televisions. Laptops, smartphones, tablets, and more offer screen time entertainment for all ages. However, rather than working with a topic that broad, we’ve decided to focus on good old television watching for the next two weeks. How can we transform the tv from mindless viewing to a decent form of family entertainment?

We’ll get to that in a moment, but first we want to acknowledge the recommendation from the American Academy of Pediatrics. They state that children under the age of two should avoid television. As a mom that was something I tried to do, most definitely before the age of one. I saw no value in plopping an 8-month old in front of a screen. I will confess that around 18 months or so, I did allow for a little tv watching, say 30 minutes a day, although not on a daily basis.

So, how can television be used as family entertainment with kids between the ages of 18 months and 5 years? The key to this is the word family. Pick a time of day when everyone can watch a show together, or at least one parent can join in the viewing. Then you need to pick a show that’s appropriate for your child. (I’ll unabashedly admit that I was a huge fan of PBS for my kids at that age. I could choose shows that had some educational value but also were entertaining to my kids.) Finally, sit with your preschooler on the floor/couch/whatever, and watch the show.

The watching of the show may be the hardest part for you, so pick something that you will enjoy also. Actively watch the show with your child, which means your phone is out of reach, you don’t have a book in hand, and you aren’t typing on your laptop. Actually sit and watch. If there are commercial breaks (or after the show), talk about it with your child, make it more than just absorbing. What can you discuss? Here are some suggestions:

  • Who is your favorite character so far?
  • Is that character happy, sad, angry?
  • Can you jump/skip/run like XYZ character?

After the show is done, you can ask more questions along a similar vein, you also can encourage creativity. Have your child draw a picture of his favorite character. Together tell a story about what might happen next. You can write it down as a story to read later. (Remember these questions and activities are for ages 18 months to 5 years; choose the one most applicable for your child.)

Television watching shouldn’t be the most important part of your preschool child’s day, but it can be made into an event that has more value than anticipated. With some adult involvement, tv can go from mindless to mindful!

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