Kids & TV: The Boob Tube Is OK.
The American Academy of Pediatrics says that children under two should steer clear of the boob tube. But, a recent study from the Kaiser Family Foundation on families and their television viewing habits found that plenty of parents happily use TV as a babysitter. “Electronic media is a central focus of many very young children’s lives, used by parents to help manage busy schedules, keep the peace, and facilitate family routines such as eating, relaxing, and falling asleep,” the study says.
Since television has been a hot topic on the BusinessWeek working parents blog and other parenting blogs, I wanted to talk to an expert about the findings. I caught up with Deborah Linebarger, an assistant professor at the University of Pennsylvania’s Annenberg School of Communications in Philadelphia. She’s one of a handful of researchers who track kids and their TV viewing habits. I felt like a better mom after our conversation. “We need to stop parents from thinking that they are bad parents and they are damaging their child by letting them watch TV,” Linebarger says. “It’s okay to use TV like other tools to meet a specific need.”
Here are edited excerpts of our conversation:
Q. Were you surprised at how frank so many of the parents surveyed were about the use of TV in their homes?
A. If you don’t use TV as a babysitter, you don’t have kids, or you are lying.
Q. Why is okay to let our kids watch TV?