How much TV should a toddler watch? As a parent you have probably asked yourself that question a few times. It can feel overwhelming sometimes to find the right balance.
We believe that the answer to this question is teach your child how to navigate the world of technology and screens by teaching them how to manage their own time.
We are going to be sharing some tips and ideas on how you can manage your toddlers TV time safely and find a balance that works for your family.
How much tv can toddler watch?
Toddlers include children that are between the ages of 2 to 5 years old. Children of this age should be spending most of their time during the day playing. It is recommended that the first 18 months of a child’s life be completely screen free according to American Academy of Pediatrics.
This includes being exposed to TV shows you are watching. You can start to introduce TV slowly to your child with toddlers between the ages of 2 to 5 years old only watching an hour of TV a day.
Screen time for toddlers needs to be limited for a few reasons. If your toddler is watching too much TV throughout the day I could have negative effects on their language development, sleep patterns, reading skills and even their memory.
If you start teaching your child healthy habits around TV by limiting how much they watch, it will be easier for them as they grow older. It is much easier to teach healthy habits from early on that try to break bad habits when your child is older.
3 Most common mistakes
1 - I let my toddler watch tv all day
Play is an essential part of a child's development and when they sit still watching TV they are not developing as they need to. You can let your child watch TV every day, but for an hour and then they need to doing other appropriate activities.
2 - I explicitly forbid my toddler to watch tv
Just like watching TV all day is bad, being band from watching TV, especially if their is one in the home, is equally damaging. If a child is never taught how to manage their TV time, they are likely to abuse it when they are eventually exposed.
Extreme measures, like completely forbidding TV are not healthy or productive. Instead teach your child that they can watch TV at certain times, for a certain length of time. Children will accept healthy boundaries easier than extreme measures.
3 - I let my toddler to watch whatever he wants
It is also not a good idea to let your child watch shows that you enjoy, especially ones that include violences or unhealthy images.
Pro tip: Adult shows, even sit coms have not been designed for children and while you might not think they are harmful to your child, do not let them watch what you are watching. Look for age appropriate shows that have been designed specifically for kids.
How to set the limit for screen time for toddlers
Only good cartoons: Not all cartoons are designed for children. There are animated shows specifically designed for adults that are explicit and inappropriate for children, these must be avoided. It is important to look for cartoons designed specifically for toddlers.
Connect real world & TV: Watch the TV show with your child and help them to make connections with real life activities. If your child enjoys animals, look for shows around animals and then talk to them about the animals they can see or have seen.
Interaction: Many childrens shows encourage interaction and this is great for your child’s development. Look for shows that ask your child to answer a question or move around or interact in some way. If you watch the show with your child you are also able to interact with them and talk about what they are watching. By doing this, watching TV is not a “mindless” activity but actually can help with their development.
Education: There are many good educational shows on the TV, when you are looking for shows for your toddler to watch, opt for these shows rather. They could be shows teaching numbers, colours or real life situations, like how to be kind. Watch the show before your child does to see if they are going to be learning lessons and what those lessons are.
Screen exposure limit: Watching TV is considered screen time, as is watching YouTube or playing games on a smartphone. All of these activities need to be limited to around 1 hour a day for children between the ages of 2 and 5 years old.
They are watching YOU: As a parent you set the example. If you are in your room all day watching TV, it will be difficult to get your child to understand why they only get an hour a day. Limit your own screen time while you are around your child and it will be easier for them to do they same.
Never quit: It can be really hard to implement this and some days you aren’t going to get it right. The important thing is to keep trying and to be consistent. If you had a bad day and your child watched a little too much, it is ok. Try again tomorrow.
Have you found that this post was helpful in understanding how much TV a toddler should watch? We hope that the tips we have shared are helpful and will allow you to make positive changes in your home that will benefit both you and your child.
We would love to hear your thoughts on this topic in the comments section.