TV Free Friday: How to Choose Better TV for Kids

by Becky Elmuccio on April 5, 2013

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How do you choose better tv for kids?

This is usually the day where I talk about what we do instead of watching tv. But, Tomato is starting to approach the age at which she will watch some television. So, I am curious to know how folks choose better tv? A lot of people asks us why we are waiting to have Tomato watch television. We have made a decision that she is not watching it until she is three since the AAP recommends no TV before 2 years of age and on the recommendation of Erik Jensen’s research. Plus, for us, there is so much more to do in the day between creating with Duplos, coloring, exploring spelling with the refrigerator magnetic letters, and taking walks around town. She is aware of most of the popular media characters that other kids know from television. We have just chosen to introduce them through books. Thomas the Tank Engine’s stories are a favorite and she loves the characters from Disney and Sesame Street. We went to Sesame Street Live the other week and it was her first time seeing Elmo move around. She loved it and it is one of the shows that I look forward to sharing with her in the fall.

Recently, Education Week released an infographic about how the types of shows children watch may influence their development.

Courtesy of       Better TV Infographic

For me, some of the amounts of television that certain ages watch were a bit surprising. Plus, the volume of commercials that kids see wasn’t even something that I had thought of before. So, how do you select better tv? Do you choose quality programs on systems like Netflix so that commercials are eliminated? Do you watch live, quality programming with your kids and discuss the commercials? Those teaching moments within the programming could be valuable moments. What types of shows do you consider to be better tv? I remember Mister Rogers, Sesame Street and Reading Rainbow being a central part of my formative preschool years. Our library even offers them on DVD and LeVar Burton and friends were a huge part of my passion for free libraries and summer reading programs. I was definitely the kid who made a list of the books discussed on the episode and then went to check them out. In addition to DVD versions limiting commercials, if you are uncertain about the pacing of today’s shows, the older episodes from your library can also be a good alternative.

So, what do your kids watch? How do you find better tv? Do you watch with them and extend the topics into the rest of your day?

{ 20 comments… read them below or add one }

maria April 5, 2013 at 8:47 am

Michael gets to watch Sesame Street, Thomas, or Curious George, that’s it when I am able to control it. Daycare providers (grandmas) try their best to limit but sometimes give in a little more. He is ‘exposed’ to Seinfield, sports, Italian programming, and cooking shows too. I notice he is already a lover of cooking and tries to imitate the chefs and Mommy cooking. I wish Mr. Rodgers was on; I’ve been trying to find it on DVD or streaming, to no avail. We are in the process of getting sesame street in Italian, too, to continue the bilingual learning.


Becky Elmuccio April 6, 2013 at 5:58 am

I am surprised that Mr. Rogers isn’t on PBS. Do you guys Sesame Street on RAI for Italian?


Lindsay April 5, 2013 at 8:59 am

So far we only watch the Sprout channel. I like the shows on there…Caillou, Sesame Street, The Wiggles, and Thomas. Each little “show” is like 10 minutes long, which is also good.
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Becky Elmuccio April 6, 2013 at 6:03 am

Which of the shows do you find to be the best for learning?


Lindsay April 7, 2013 at 5:30 pm

At this age (around 2), I think she has learned the most from Sesame Street and The Wiggles. Sesame Street always has the alphabet and numbers, while The Wiggles constantly talk about eating fruits and veggies, good manners, etc.
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carrie April 5, 2013 at 10:42 am

This is awesome. Sharing and Pinning!
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Becky Elmuccio April 6, 2013 at 6:04 am

Thanks, Carrie! I loved your bread recipe today too.


Carrie April 5, 2013 at 10:53 am

Great information, I’m sharing it for sure! We do watch more t.v. than I want, but it’s ‘good’ kids shows like Dora, Sesame Street, and Thomas. When we watch adult t.v. with the kids it’s always sports. We DVR the other stuff and watch it after the kids go to bed. Thanks for the info graphics, very interesting.
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Becky Elmuccio April 6, 2013 at 6:05 am

Which of the kids’ shows do you find to be the most educational?


Sarah hughes April 5, 2013 at 11:08 am

My kids watch tv out of necessity for me, like time to get myself dressed or blow dry my hair. They watch shows like Super Why, Team Umizoomi, Dora and others. They pay attention and always interact with the show when it’s time to answer questions.
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Becky Elmuccio April 6, 2013 at 6:10 am

What’s Team Umizoomi? I am familiar with the others, but not that one.


Janeane Davis April 5, 2013 at 1:22 pm

I like to let my little ones watch educational television and supervised a Netflix show before bed. I try to limit the quantity of television and promote quality. I admit it is harder as they grow older.
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Becky Elmuccio April 6, 2013 at 6:12 am

I can only imagine the struggle that may come as they grow out of the young PBS years.


ClassyMommy April 5, 2013 at 2:27 pm

Great post. LOVE this infographic!
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Becky Elmuccio April 6, 2013 at 6:13 am

Thanks, Colleen!


Linda @ GGG April 5, 2013 at 7:06 pm

I need to share this with my family! We are working so hard on breaking my boys TV habits.


Becky Elmuccio April 6, 2013 at 6:13 am

Thanks for sharing, Linda!


Maria April 6, 2013 at 6:38 am

I was upset about no Mr. Rodgers too. The Daniel’s neighborhood is modeled after it but I wish it was person and not animated. Michael does watch RAI at my inlaws along with the Italian cartoons on it. I have to have the cousins buy the Italian Sesame Street in Italy and then teach my mil how to use her DVD player because they have the Italian code reader.


Becky Elmuccio April 6, 2013 at 6:55 am

I’ll have to see if the library or Netflix has it at when we get to the fall. I like the pace of that one.


Nicole April 6, 2013 at 12:11 pm

Wow, that’s some crazy information when you add it all up! Thankfully my kiddos aren’t huge TV watchers. Now if only I could get them off Minecraft and whatever else they play online.


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