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Friday, December 11, 2009

Theories on TV and Annika's favorite videos

When Annika was a few months old I read an article about a study that said rates of autism were higher in children who spent more time watching television before the age of 3. (That link is not the same article I read, but it is based on the same study. I couldn't find the other article.)

The article I read was alarming enough that after I sent it to Toyin we made a die-hard pact that Annika's eyes would not come in contact with the screen until age 3.

I have realized since that this is an alarmist attitude that many new parents take based on their own upbringing and some trendy social attitudes about restricting TV and food.

I have some baggage about TV. I was raised with the idea that television rots your brain. My siblings and I were always looking over our shoulders at the possibility that the TV would get turned off unless our dad was watching with us. We weren't allowed to turn on the TV unless we asked. And even if we had been given permission to watch, there was always the possibility that our mom would come storming in and turn it off without warning.

Toyin has less baggage about TV. I think he has a pretty good attitude about TV watching even though he admits that it can be an obstacle for him. Growing up he and his siblings were allowed to watch plenty of television once chores and homework were done, but most of it was educational.

Our overreaction toward TV watching lasted until about 10 months, I think. I don't really remember when we decided that we had overreacted. (Probably sometime after the hormones began to dissipate.)

After I decided to loosen my controlling mindset about television, I started showing Annika Youtube videos. Here's where I posted a couple of my favorites.

Toyin and I have disagreed about a lot of things when it comes to parenting, but we have always been on the same page when it comes to TV.

We like to watch TV. We want Annika to enjoy it, but we don't want to use it as a babysitter. We also don't like the idea of her seeing overdone flashy cartoons that have no educational value. There will come a time in her life when it will be hard to control all the fluff, but for right now she doesn't know the difference so we figured whatever she watches should have some educational value and should reinforce whatever she is in the process of learning.

With this in mind, a few months ago, Toyin did some research (he's so much better at that than I am) and bought a series of videos called First Impressions. Boy does she LOVE them. They are a series of videos that teaches kids about animals, colors, shapes, body parts, letters, sounds, numbers, opposites, seasons and food.

So far she only watches three of them: animals, colors and body parts. Her favorite one is animals. Annika is huge into animals. I took her to the zoo a couple of months ago and once she got started feeding the deer and goats, I had a hard time convincing her that there was even more fun just around the corner.

What we like about these videos is that they are not flashy. They are so un-flashy that we make fun of some of the dorky kids on the video. Some parts look like they were filmed in the 80s and 90s. The are super duper simple. Annika dances during the intro music, which is a nice bonus because it's cute and fun to watch. But mostly what we like about these videos is that they reinforce things we are teaching her.

If you're looking for some good videos for your toddler, these are great. They range in price from $3.99 to just under $20. They are simple and they will reinforce stuff you are teaching your kiddo, without the expense of constant commercials flashing in front of their faces. If you think about it, it's probably cheaper to buy something like this than the expense of your toddler begging for all the crap in the advertisements.

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