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Toddlers and television. But not tiaras. Ever.

I buy Joshua books. Lots and lots of books. Whenever we go to Target, I stroll through the $1 section to see what new books they’ve put out. Most recently, I bought him some Spider-man books thinking “Cool. He’s a boy and these aren’t Elmo. Rock on.”

Only the kid has become a bit obsessed with the web slinging wonder.

To the point that he can recognize him on anything. Including the television.

Oh yes, my child watches TV. Definitely way more than “they” would say is either acceptable or necessary. Because “they” would say that TV is NEVER necessary for children under the age of 47. And I’m here to tell you that no-TV is just not going to happen in this house.

See? I love TV. It’s kind of my “thing” next to blogging. In fact, TV is most definitely a hobby of mine and if I could get paid to write TV reviews or be a critic, I’d be living the dream. (Assuming, of course, that the gig paid as much as my current gig doing what I also love doing.)

Also? It is not within the realm of my brain capacity to be able to adequately entertain a toddler for the 12 hours a day he is awake. I just can’t. My brain goes to mush after reading the same book 14 times in a row. I can only play trains for so long without wanting to throw them. It is 400billion degrees here during the summer so we stay inside for the hot parts of the day. And get stir crazy.

Thus, TV.

Most of the time, the TV is kid-friendly and comes from Nick Jr. or Sprout network. (Or, Thomas and Friends: Calling all Engines that I bought on a whim and which has been on constant repeat in our house for the past week and a half.)

The other day we turned on the TV in the bedroom because he was handing Dan the “mamote” and asking for Taw-Taw (Thomas). Only we found Spider-man instead. And Joshua? Was in HEAVEN.

We have a 5 minute mini-sode of a Spider-man cartoon saved to the TiVo and Joshua has seen it AT LEAST 15 times already.

But when I paid attention to it yesterday, I realized that I wasn’t comfortable with him seeing it.

Spider-man himself isn’t overly violent. In fact, Marvel’s superheroes (at least as I know them) are some of the least violent. But the villains aren’t. And while Spider-man doesn’t kill the villain in that cartoon, the villain does die.

I don’t believe that violence in movies and TV shows causes violence. But I do believe that violence in movies and TV leads to a desensitization to violence. And if anything, I want him to understand and believe that violence isn’t okay.

Which leads me to today.

Joshua is really only interested in watching Spider-man sling his web and swing from building to building right now, which is fine by me. Really. I know that he’s not paying conscious attention to the fact that the bad guy in that cartoon falls off the building. But I KNOW that the bad guy is falling off the building. And I know that Joshua is seeing it.

So this morning we watched the menu screen of the live-action movie for about 10 minutes with Joshua screaming “PI-AH-PAN” and “AH COO!” and “OH WOW!” the whole time. He was enthralled!

And we watched that menu screen and ONLY that menu screen because of the Mama Guilt and Mama Fail and uncertainty in my stomach. At some point, I know that isn’t going to be enough for him to be satisfied. And I don’t want him watching the live action or full-length cartoons of Spider-man, or any superhero movies, for a long, long time.

I know the answer to my dilemma is just not to let him watch these movies or shows, but when he already recognizes this character, because of a BOOK I bought him, it gets hard to hear him ask for it over and over and over and keep telling him “No” and then deal with the meltdowns that follow when I know that all he WANTS to see is Spider-man swing around.

So, Sanctimommies, judge me for letting my kid watch TV, okay? I can handle that. But only judge if you can offer some sanity saving alternatives to screaming toddlers and Thomas on repeat.

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Tuesday 17th of May 2011

dude. the tv is ALWAYS on in our house. ALWAYS. because like you (and others here), it was always on when he was a newborn. He thinks it's part of our house now. And like you and Jessica, we LOVE TV. LOVE IT.

It doesn't phase him in the least that the TV is NEVER on at daycare. But he is GLUED to it when he gets home. He and I watch TIVO-ed sesame street when we get home every afternoon. He is crabby from a long day, we are both hungry and waiting for Cort to make dinner. Expecting him to "play" either alone or with me is ridiculous. We both need veg time.

Maybe it's wrong, but he is smart and learning his letters and numbers and we spend time together.

Jess@Straight Talk

Monday 16th of May 2011

How can I not let her watch tv? Like you, we lub the tv. LUB it. It's our thing to unwind and veg out. So what? Ava actually liked the Spiderman movie. The kid who wouldn't watch Crystal Kingdom Dora because one of those people was mean in it, liked Spiderman when she saw it as we flipped through channels. Sigh. What can you do?

It's not like you live him with tv and then go run to Target ;-)


Monday 16th of May 2011

We avoided TV for 2 years and now use it like it's baby crack and he's addicted. Ahem.

Only advice: tell him it's not on anymore, live through a couple of meltdowns, and find something else you think he'll like. We've almost eliminated Max & Ruby this way, which is not a bad show necessarily (if you think a whiny, anal-retentive big sister and a bullied brother is a good thing). We just can't stand it. So, uh oh, Max & Ruby isn't on anymore. How about Harry & his bucket of dinosaurs? Way cool, right?! Right.


Monday 16th of May 2011

That's what I did yesterday. He wanted to watch Spiderman again and I said Spiderman was taking a nap. I figure I've got a little while before this doesn't work anymore so I'm going to use it while I can.

Elizabeth Flora Ross

Sunday 15th of May 2011

There will be no judgment from me, my friend. B/c I totally get it. I used to swear my daughter would watch no more than 1 hour of TV a day. That was before I had her. LOL I am very careful about what we watch. My one caveat is that it has to have some educational value. It can't be crap.

Yes, my toddler watches TV. And you know what? She has learned more than 300 ASL signs from watching TV. She's learned the alphabet. She's learning to read at 2. I think she's doing OK. As so is yours! :)


Sunday 15th of May 2011

Joshua knows so much, even with all of the tv he's seen. He's a super smart little kid!


Sunday 15th of May 2011

We watch tv at our house and that's never changing. I remember when my daughter was 4 months old and I was watching True Blood. I had to turn it off becaus I thought the blood and gore would affect her long term. Oh mommy guilt.


Sunday 26th of June 2011

Well done artilce that. I'll make sure to use it wisely.


Sunday 15th of May 2011

Yeah. I try to pay attention to what's on, which is why this spiderman thing is so difficult. I know what he's wanting to see, but I also know what he IS seeing.

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