ABC kids, a channel devoted solely to children’s programming has many qualities, but chief among them is the fact that not once have I seen a hand wringing news report about the danger of screen time on children. I know a lot of parents don’t enjoy kids TV: The chirpy songs, the twee story lines, the anthropomorphic characters. I love it.
Given a choice between the latest disaster from the Trump White House, another hard-bitten detective investigating yet another gruesome murder, or a finger-wagging current affairs report about how I’m raising my child all wrong, give me Sesame Street any day.
And you know what? It’s fine. I know I should be beating myself up about it. Fretting that he doesn’t spend all his play time engaged in fine motor skill games and educational picture books. He does do that stuff, but he also watches telly. And as a child of the 1980s and ‘90s, I can’t help but think it’s not actually that bad. I was raised in front of the television. Degrassi Junior High taught me everything I needed to know about high school. Beverly Hills 90210 taught me about looking moodily into middle distance. I based my entire career on Press Gang. And I turned out… fine?
My son watches TV for a few reasons…
1. I need to get out of the house. And no, I don’t mean I go out and leave him in front of Play School. I mean, I need to get dressed, brush my teeth, pack a nappy bag and snacks for him and generally get myself organised to go somewhere. All this is made a lot easier when your 12 kilo shadow is watching The Wiggles and not on your hip.
2. I need to cook him dinner. When my son was four months old my Mother’s Group signed up to do a really intense first aid course. We were all first time Mums. We didn’t want to leave anything to chance. Which is how we found ourselves subjected to a 10 HOUR lecture from a moonlighting ambulance officer about all the injuries which can befall your baby. One particularly terrifying calamity that can happen is burns. The ambulance officer went into great detail about peeling your baby’s precious skin off like melted cheese (now try to get that image out of your head). It was months before any of us were able to drink a cup of tea in the same room as our children.
For this reason, if I have something hot on the stove in the kitchen, my boy is watching Bluey in the living room.
It is also why I have not one, but two, very expensive First Aid Kits with ambulance-grade burns shields. Seriously, you should see this First Aid Kit. I could perform a kidney transplant on my kitchen table.
3. Sometimes we just need some quiet time. We’ve been to the pool, played in the park, visited Nanna. It’s an hour until dinner and the kid is too tired to play, but not about to nap. We need a bit of down time. We watch telly. And yes, sometimes we read books instead, but after the 200th reading of A Sausage Went for a Walk (whhhhy?), sometimes mum and baby just need to catch up on a bit of Peppa Pig.
And the best thing about children’s television? Thomas and Friends seem to operate under a functional government on the island of Sodor, Bananas in Pajamas are never investigating a murder in Cuddlestown and The Wiggles never, ever lecture about the dangers of screen time. Bliss.
Are you worried about the amount of screen time your child is getting…or not? Share your thoughts with us in the comments below.