How to Find Good Quality TV Shows for Toddlers
TV will never replace the valuable time you spend interacting with your child, but choosing good quality shows can support their learning (and can help you in those tough times when you need a moment!)
A limited time (less than 1 hour per day) watching educational or prosocial programs can be okay for children this age. Toddlers are constantly learning about the world and trying to make sense of what is real and pretend, so it is important to choose TV shows with images and sounds they can understand.
Here are a few questions to ask yourself when choosing a TV show for your child:
Is the program interactive?
TV time does not have to be passive. Look for shows with characters who encourage your child to answer questions, use their imagination, or get up and dance.
What kind of role models are in the show?
Do the characters help each other? Solve problems with words instead of fighting? Help with everyday tasks like cleaning up? Think about what your child may be able to learn from the program. Look for an overall take-away message.
Is it violent or fast-paced?
Many cartoons have a lot of violence and fast screen changes. Just because a show is animated, does not mean it is healthy for children. Even if the violence is done by a “good guy”, children tend to imitate what they see. Look for shows that are non-violent and slow-paced without sudden shifts in the background.
How to Get the Most Out of TV Time
Ask questions and talk about it! In addition to choosing a good quality show, if you are able to interact with your child while they are watching, they can learn even more. So, instead of putting on Netflix or handing over your smartphone while you do something else, try to make time to sit with your child and talk about what they are watching. Ask questions. Some shows can offer a great opportunity to introduce new words or talk about feelings.
Learning to Read
Around this age, children start to understand that printed words have meaning. You may notice your child naming the words or pictures they see in their environment, like on billboards, street signs, or cereal boxes.
For example, when driving down the road, you see a billboard advertisement for milk with a glass of milk pictured. Your child says “milk!” and points to the sign. You can say, “Yes, that’s a glass of milk. Where does milk come from?”
This interest in printed words is called Print Awareness, and it is a huge step toward developing the ability to read. Encourage your child’s interest by finding moments to ask questions and talk about the printed words they notice.
Don’t worry if their answer is correct or not. It’s more about talking and getting them excited about reading in the future. Children learn best through positive interactions with you!
Q & A
Q: There are so many TV shows, websites, and apps out there for kids. How can I know what is healthy for my son? I want to find some educational stuff.
A: There are a LOT of shows and games out there for kids. New ones come out every day! It can be challenging to keep up.