Granted, the middle of the Stanley Cup playoffs is not the ideal time for me to dispute the merits of television.
Apparently though, my teenage sons are in good company when it comes to over-the-top TV consumption. This week, two studies revealed they're starting young these days. According to the May issue of the Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine, 40 per cent of babies age three months old watch TV. Can't you just picture legions of the barely-born, strapped into bouncy chairs and pointed at the telly?
Not only that, another study published in the U.S. journal Pediatrics found that 20 per cent of children younger than age three have televisions in their bedrooms. No doubt this is good news for BabyFirstTV, the U.S. satellite channel aimed at infants and slated to be available in Canada this summer.
Experts like the American Academy of Pediatrics discourage television for kids under two, citing the importance of face-to-face interaction and evidence that it increases the risk of attention problems. But they are up against a formidable opponent - companies peddling DVDs with names like Baby Einstein and Brainy Baby, which equate screen time with baby smarts. In other words, they give mom and dad the perfect excuse to use TV as babysitter.
As a parent, I have, on more than one occasion, appreciated the value of tot television. Sometimes it's the only way to a) wash the three days worth of dishes piled in the sink b) run to the bathroom to assist your toilet-training preschooler or c) read the paper for 20 minutes with your cup of tea. Just don't go telling me it's the sure path to Harvard.
As for those developmental experts advising parents to watch TV with their infants or toddlers, what can they be thinking? If you're sitting down with the little ones, why not sing, or read a story, or build a castle out of blocks. The days of being glued to hockey playoffs will come soon enough. Trust me.