As I mentioned last week we’ve been doing a lot of driving, because we’ve been on holidays and as I talk to other parents on my travels, I’m starting to feel that I’m part of a dying breed, because I don’t have a portable DVD player in the car.  And we do fine.  But so many parents tell me they would not go on holiday without it.

We’re always hearing that kids watch too much TV, but until you have kids you don’t realize what a godsend TV can be.  Sometimes I wonder how our grandparents survived without it.  I’d never get a shower in the morning without Iggle Piggle and Upsy-Daisy!  (Which tells you something about my life!)

So how do we figure out how much TV is too much?  If only there were a magic formula!  You’ve got to think about both the quality and the quantity and the only way you can judge it is by the effect on the child.  I let Birdy watch about an hour every morning , because if she watches more than that, she starts to get grumpy and irritable when it goes off, and has trouble focusing on other activities.  So that’s when I know she’s watched too much.

But of course, the other issue is what they watch.  I know if Birdy watches anything flashy or fast or even slightly scary she won’t sleep well.  So I try to make sure programs are age appropriate, although obviously that might be hard if you have lots of kids of different ages.  Even something as seemingly harmless as Toy Story or Finding Nemo, which is great for a 6 year old, might be scary to a 2 year old.

For me, that’s the advantage of DVDs over free-to-air television.  You can watch a program with your child and see how they react to it.  Then you know exactly what they’re watching and they can watch it again and again.  Whereas if you just plonk little kids in front of the tele, you don’t know what they might see in the shows or the ads.  My daughter used to sometimes watch Trotro, until my husband and I watched a couple of episodes, and saw how naughty he is!  So that show is blacklisted in our house now.  Even Birdy knows she has to turn of the television when Trotro comes on.

How much TV do your children watch and does it have any effect on them?  What do you think are the best kids shows and are there any you’ve blacklisted?  Do you have any rules about watching TV in your house?  Are you a fan of the portable DVD player? 

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