Should Babies Watch TV? (A New Perspective)
Metropolitan Mama

dan and stephenI’m what Stephen Gass (pictured in black t-shirt), co-creator of eebee adventures, calls a “no-TV-mom.” Essentially, I follow the recommendation of the American Academy of Pediatrics to not allow my child to watch any television before age two. My daughter is fifteen months and she has never watched TV – no Baby Einstein, no Sesame Street, no Dora the Explorer. Nor has she been exposed to “background TV” because my husband and I don’t watch much TV (exceptions: Psych and Lost on DVD after baby’s bedtime).

Our decision came about partly because of the AAP guideline, partly because some research indicates that television isn’t the healthiest option for little ones, and partly because it doesn’t fit well in our family “culture.” My husband and I are much more likely to go for a run, to be outside, to read books, or to eat meals together than to watch TV together (pre-baby and post-baby).

That said, I agree with Gass’ presupposition that “To make a sweeping statement that every media is bad…” is illogical.

Gass and co-founder Don Burton are creators of eebee adventures, DVDs that are “designed to help you and your baby transform everyday play, observation and exploration into learning that lasts.”

Gass said, “Our goal is to help people to play. A whole lot of what we’re doing is common sense. We’re here to help parents who say, ‘I’ve exhausted my peek-a-bee repertoire. Now, what do I do?’ Our episodes feature on-the-floor, behavior-based conversations with regular objects.”

Gass explained why he and Burton decided to produce their adventures for the six month and up population despite AAP’s recommendation, “The reality is that when the AAP made their recommendation back in 99 it was based on a lack of evidence. It was more cautionary. If the content and format [of a television program] is designed in an appropriate way then, in fact, there are positive impacts.”

Gass’ credentials are none too shabby when it comes to his education and work experience, “I’m trained as a developmental psychologist. I was the president of sesame street online. I take the research very seriously. We have looked at as much evidence as is available. We’re comfortable about the choices we’re making. We’re talking about kids – about babies – we have to be responsible.”

I have to admit that Gass’ arguments are convincing. Using television as a communication tool and an opportunity to interact with your baby seems reasonable (which is how the adventures are designed to be used). Plopping your baby down in front of the screen all by his lonesome is an entirely different matter…

For more information about Gass’ stance and the research behind it, check out “Baby TV: Not so Black and White,” an article he wrote that was featured on the Hot Moms Club website this past fall.

Metropolitan Mama