I Hate TV… but YouTube is Another Story

-posted by Meghan

youtube1I get it. There is nothing more annoying than the self righteous parent. In fact, I just read a pulpy mystery (I am completely addicted to them) where a character’s entire personality was summed up with the description that she was one of those Moms who loudly and proudly didn’t let her children watch television. (And this trait alone served as explanation for why her husband left her and why all the other characters sympathized with him.) So I am always oddly embarrassed about admitting to other parents that no, my kids don’t eat sugar (well, now that they’re 2 1/2 and they have friends, they do a little), yes, they only eat organic food, and no, we don’t watch TV.

I don’t think TV is completely evil, but I do think it’s a slippery slope, so if they don’t know about it, they can’t want it. ( Or if they think they don’t like it… we’ve somehow convinced the kids that only Mommy and Daddy like chocolate, so now you can even offer it to them and they’ll shake their heads and tell you “No! I don’t like chocolate!”) We’ve just recently started family movie night, where on Saturday nights we all gather on the couch for a 15 minute episode of Olivia, followed by 5 minutes from Bob Dylan Live from Newport (have I mentioned that they’re Bob Dylan obsessed?). I mean, I don’t want them to grow up so TV deprived that they have to pay kids $.05 in Kindergarten to tell them what happened on the A-Team (thanks, Mom!).

What’s all this leading up to? I mean, so far, I sound completely like the quintessential smug and annoying PC Mom. Here’s my confession: we all LOVE YouTube. I have this conversation over and over with myself- is this different from TV at all? It’s sitting mesmerized by a little screen, after all, and they probably sit closer to the computer than they would the TV. I’ve thought about it a lot, and here’s my (self-justifying) list of why YouTube is NOT TV, and is probably really very good for the kids. šŸ™‚

youtube2(Yes, those are my hands doing Molly’s hair. I said we do this together- I didn’t say that we don’t multi-task…)

1. They don’t watch it alone, it’s an activity we all do together. Yes, the same could be said for TV, but I think there’s a greater temptation to walk out of the room or read a magazine with TV. I can’t leave them alone for more than 30 seconds with my computer, or Jacob will reconfigure it.

2. I pick exactly what they’re exposed to. Again, you could do that with TV by recording something and watching it and forwarding through any commercials, but with YouTube, I watch each clip before them, there are no commercials, and it’s really easy.

3. There’s some COOL SH*T on YouTube! Our current favorites are Feist singing 1-2-3-4 on Sesame Street and Maurice Sendak’s Pierre from Really Rosie. No one I know remembers the cartoon Barba Papa except me and my brother, who got the kids Barba Papa plates that they love. I finally got to show them what it’s all about, and frankly, even though they didn’t know it, it was an awesome bonding moment.

4. Finally, it’s really easy to show them whatever we’re all currently interested in. Obsessed with flamingos today? Molly and I looked up flamingo and watched those beautiful birds without a trek to the zoo. Jacob loves saying “Is your Mama a Llama? Noooooooo” before bed, so we looked up what real Llamas look like. I was singing Baa Baa Black Sheep, and we happened to see that they had a story clip of it- and it turned out to be a cartoon from India, and the kids loved the accents. Not to mention, there are plenty of Bob Dylan clips, so we’ll never run out.

~~~~~

Disclaimer: I’m a Mom. I read lots about child development and the current recommendations for childraising from the American Association of Pediatrics (AAP), but I’m not a specialist. And I have no idea if YouTube will rot your brain as fast as TV. What I do know is that TV is not good for any child under 2, and it’s highly recommended to limit the viewing of kids over 2. And lots of actual specialists will back that up:

TV and Toddlers: American Association of Pediatrics

No TV for Children Under Age 2?

TV and Kids Under Age 3 (PBS Parents)

Babble: Health and Development: No TV Before Age 2?

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