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  • Too young for Elmo? - Spilling the Beans - Magic Beans

Too young for Elmo?

Yesterday’s Boston Globe had an interesting story on the front page. Apparently, Sesame Workshop has partnered with Zero to Three, a highly regarded organization dedicated to supporting the healthy development of infants and toddlers through parent education and resources. The result of this collaboration is a series of DVDs designed for parents to watch with their babies and toddlers, from 6 months of age.

After years of encouraging parents to keep young children away from the television, this seems like a complete about-face for Zero to Three, and many physicians and early childhood educators are expressing disappointment in this decision.

Zero to Three counters that in spite of their recommendations, research is showing that most parents are allowing their infants and toddlers to spend an average of two hours in front of the television each day. If the trend is moving stubbornly in that direction, they feel obligated to help develop age-appropriate content that engages parents alongside their children.

Founding board member (and celebrated parenting author) T Berry Brazelton released a statement reiterating his support for Zero to Three, but standing by the recommendation of the American Academy of Pediatrics, that children under the age of 2 should not have screen time.

It’s an interesting debate. You can read all about it at the Zero to Three website, or you can read the Globe article.

I won’t comment extensively, but I will say that while I do try very hard to limit the amount of screen time my kids get, I have not banned TV from their lives. And I’m not really sure I see the point in asking parents to interact with their children in front of a TV. As a mom, I am most likely to utilize the TV when I need a couple of minutes to do something for myself – make a phone call, cook dinner, check my e-mail. If I’m devoting my attention entirely to my kids, my TV is off. On the upside, I think that with several decades of combined expertise in children’s education behind them, it’s very likely that these DVDs will be fabulous and worthwhile – even if the parent decides to take a break.

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