Finally, a report on children's media that doesn’t make parents feel bad! Released this week in the UK as part of the Hello Campaign, an initiative focused on making communication a priority in homes and in schools, a quarter of parents who have young children admit using the television as a babysitter. And 70% percent of them do not feel guilty about it.
Surprising? Not really. Amazing? A little. Even though the American Academy of Pediatrics has long advocated or reduced screen time, setting guidelines that children watch no more than 2 hours of television per day, the data demonstrates that kids are watching much, much more than that. Which, we all know by now, can lead to problems. As recently as April of this year, a study came out linking kids TV to heart disease.
Feeling guilty yet? Don't. The reason why parents in the UK feel good about their children’s TV watching is because there are so many wonderful, educational shows. 42% of respondents said that quality children's television is a great way for kids to learn. It's all about context.
Take Babycenter's posts Why you should never feel guilty about kids watching TV and Watch that TV, guilt-free! CommonSense Media's Best TV for Kids provides even more reasons to enjoy a little screen time.
I also like what Dimitri A. Christakis and Frederick J. Zimmerman, authors of "The Elephant in the Living Room: Make Television Work for Your Kids, have to say: "At its best, TV can educate and inspire. High-quality documentaries offer insights into history that no book can equal. Children's educational shows have the proven ability to help children learn to read to be kind, and to share. In short, when used appropriately, television has the power to expand horizons and help children's cognitive, social and emotional development."
Spokeswoman for the Hello campaign, Wendy Lee, also points out how parents can get more involved and use television as a launching point for communications in the home. "TV can be used as a fantastic opportunity to bring children's favourite characters and shows to life beyond the box as well... chatting about characters, making up stories and even acting out adventures can help parents develop their child's language and communication," she said.
In short, children's TV doesn't need to hide in the closet as a guilty, forbidden pleasure. And we as parents can actually admit to feeling good about it. Companies like my clients Ameba TV (http://amebatv.com) and The Mother Company (http://themotherco.com) are redefining screen time by offering high-quality, educational, slow-paced, commercial-free shows for kids - and that's something both parents and kids can feel pretty great about.