Everett isn’t supposed to watch TV. Emily has passed the law that Everett should be banned from watching the television, because he is only 9 months old and she doesn't want him already captivated by the flashy lights and pictures. She would rather his stimulation come from toys and books. I’m not about to argue with her.
But it was inevitable that Everett was going to be drawn to the TV and sneak as many peeks as possible. After all, I make a good portion of my living writing about pop culture, which includes reviewing television shows. There is a reason I’m a Useless TV Trivia dispenser that will unleash enough facts about TV and movie history to fill up a library. It is in Everett’s blood to stare at the magical box with flickering lights.
I know people that are opposed to babies watching TV. I definitely am not advocating for the boob tube to become the babysitter or the major source of a baby’s entertainment. There are parents that are fearful that allowing any amount of TV will risk turning their child into a wet sack of cement or possibly getting them obsessed with TV by the time of three years thus causing them to refuse to ever enter into the sunlight. Some parents see the TV as a box of pure evil that will lead them down a path where the child will only travel to places like the Jersey Shore or a pineapple under the sea.
Emily isn’t about to take a sledgehammer to our TV, but she also tries to implement many roadblocks to Everett’s journey to TV viewing. I support her. But I also don’t think Everett occasionally looking towards the television will turn him into stone or destine him to a life where he wears a tin foil hat all day while digging holes in our backyard.
I knew a guy who watched a few cartoons with his baby girl. She ended up being at the top of her class during her entire school career. I am not going to credit that to watching Bugs Bunny at 6 months, but it also didn’t appear to short circuit her brain either.
I have a confession to make here. When Emily was away a few weeks ago, I allowed Everett to watch a cartoon. I was trying to get his lunch ready, and he was in a “daddy, focus all your attention on me and dance like a trained monkey” kind of mood. A monkey dance makes it very hard to get lunch ready. I sat him facing the TV, and there happened to be a cartoon about talking tools. He totally forgot he was in a fussy mood, and zoned in on the cartoon. He was captivated. I realize that intent focus on the TV is exactly why Emily is afraid. But it gave me a few minutes to eat my own lunch and then get his food ready. I’m sure a few of you are shaking your heads, and ready to nominate me for Worst Father Ever.
Here is the thing; he watched it for less than 10 minutes. He couldn't have possibly cared less when I turned it off. He was more than happy to return to his toys and experiment making all the new sounds he recently discovered. He went right back to being the Everett I know. That afternoon we went for a walk, and he was just as happy to explore his surroundings and enjoy the outdoors. He seems just as alert and functioning as he was before I turned on the cartoon.
I’m not going to start a movement promoting all babies to be shoved in front of the TV and forcing them to spend hours staring at the pretty colours. I don’t believe TV is going to turn them into super geniuses. I really am fine if Everett rarely sees anything on TV for the next several years. But it doesn’t scare me. I’m not ready to leap in front of the screen the moment my son turns to look at it. I’m not going to spend my date nights panicking that grandma may allow him to glance at the TV while she watches it. I’m pretty sure there are more important things to be afraid of like zombies or rabid llamas.
Everett will do many things in his day. He loves going on walks and can spend an hour discovering all the things his toys do. He loves looking at the pictures in his books and being read a story. We’ll play games that get him ready for crawling or encourage him to reach and grab. My son is developing really well, and he is learning new things every day. I don’t plan on the TV being a regular part of his day, but also am pretty confident a few peeks won’t lead to forgetting everything he has learned or obtaining an allergy to the outdoors.
So, what is your stance on your newborn looking at a TV?