Q: I am the mother of a very active 18-month-old little boy who loves one particular episode of
A: Dear Uncertain,
Pediatricians recommend limiting screen media before the age of 2 because young children learn little from screens. As far as the brain is concerned, the little time that kids are awake at this time of life is better spent doing other things. But, you’re right, screen media are not inherently toxic to this age group—they’re just not ideal.
Your son probably loves that particular episode because it’s familiar to him. He has mastered its sounds, songs, and images, so it feels comforting. But don’t confuse this kind of attention with learning — your son is not at a developmental age where he is taking in the instruction on letters and numbers.
When he’s a bit older, however, watching the same episode of an age-optimal TV show over and over again will actually help him learn from it. Research shows that kids between the ages of 3 and 5 learn more each time they watch the same episode of a show like Blue’s Clues than they do from watching an episode only once. If he watches many of those shows before that age, though, he will no longer be interested in them when he’s old enough to truly benefit from them.
In short, know what you’re choosing for your son. Although an episode of
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Enjoy your media and use them wisely,