Television Watching for 16 Month Old

Updated on September 06, 2007
K.N. asks from Doylestown, PA
12 answers

My 16.5 month old son has recently taken - HARD - to Sesame Street, and will point the remote at the TV and yell Elmo! He loves it, and I honestly think he's learning new words from it, and knows all the characters, and picked up their names fast.

He doesn't stare for a super long time, maybe the first 15 min, and then will play and watch at the same time. But I am wondering how much is too much, how much is okay. He's really only gotten into it in the last month or so.

We also spend a lot of time at parks, outside, reading, etc. I'm not worried per se, but just curious as to others' practices. Thanks.

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answers from Philadelphia on

Hi K. my daughter was around the same age also when she fell in love with Elmo and sesame street. We too were worried that it was too much tv cause she wanted it all the time. It actually was beneficial to her as her vocabulary had grown as did her thinking skills etc. We looked at it this way at least what she was watching was educational and we also had lots of playtime and outings also. I hope this helps you in some way.

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answers from Philadelphia on

in my opinion.. as long as you stick to educational and he isnt watching for 1/2 the day or all day..i would say it is fine. he is learning. my daughter loves dora but isnt really into tv and she is 4 1/2. she plays and watches still. she isnt addicted. but if you are worried ask your doc.



answers from Philadelphia on

My pediatrician days NO TV. But, that being said... I let my 2 1/2 year old son watch certain shows: Sesame, Barney, Little Bear(he is so sweet & respectful of his parents), Go Diego Go, Dora. Mostly he watches while playing. He doesn't watch all of the above in one day. But I find that prior to nap time, it helps him wind down to watch Barney. And he 'knows' that when the show is over he needs to take his nap.

Also, my son was a late talker. And I couldn't believe it one day when Diego said "can you say Pygmy Marmoset?" and my son belted out Pygmy Marmoset. He is definately learning from Sesame and Barney too.

There are some shows that I wouldn't let my son watch Caiou for istance is a little disrepectful of his parents. Name calling in Sponge Bob.

I think as long as there is a good balance of play, movement, and occasional educational TV it is okay.

Good Luck.



answers from Philadelphia on

Hi K.,

My 3 year old loved Sesame street early in life and is so smart because of it. He can spell simple words like Stop, exit, go and he can count to 50 on his own. He knows all of his letters and can recognize all numbers up to 50. I attribute all of that to Sesame Street. Of course, I also work with him on those topics as well. I reinforce all the basics on a daily basis. We count everything, I always ask "what number or letter is that?". I spell simple words with him including his first and last name. Don't underestimate the power of educational television and don't let anyone make you feel that it is wrong to allow your child to watch it. My son, like myself, loves TV, but if he has it on, he would rather play than look at it. He just likes to hear it. On the flip side, a friend of mine limits her kids to just one hour of TV a day and her girls sit and stare at the TV for that entire hour. I personally think that if you don't allow your kid to do something, he/she is going to want it all the more. And as a teacher, believe me, when they get into school they find ways to get it outside of the home, TV at a friends house or swapping healthy snacks for tasty sugary ones. So I say go ahead and let him watch Sesame street all he wants. It isn't going to hurt him in any way.



answers from Philadelphia on

My oldest daughter (now 19 years old) watched Bambi about 100 times straight when she was a toddler and turned out quite fine. However, I do try to limit my 4 year old's TV watching because too much makes her hyper. (She also watched watch TV as a toddler and seems okay to me!) :)



answers from Philadelphia on

I wouldn't worry too much at this age. A lot of the shows that are geared for this age are teaching them and they learn quite a bit from them. My daughter has been a fan of Barney, Sesame Street and is now a fan of "The Sprout Channel." She also watches the "Disney" channel. They have some nice shows on t.v.--Mickey Mouse and Baby Einstein are a couple.

A lot of times my daughter will play while watching t.v. She isn't one who sits in front of a t.v. all day, however. She loves to do art work, loves to be read to, play outside, go to the park. I just think she's developed a pretty good balance.

I think you'll know and get a feeling when he's watching too much. At that point he probably wouldn't want to play or go outside. Right now, I wouldn't worry too much. Just make sure that he's doing other activities throughout the day and evening, also.



answers from Philadelphia on

Our baby is a few months older then yours and she watches...she also likes booh-bah, and teletubbies. (why???who knows they are very strange shows) she also likes to read books. As long as your child is well rounded that is all that matters. As long as the tv is not a baby sitter... kids are into elmo.



answers from Philadelphia on

Hey K.,

I am a mom of twin 11 month olds and a teacher too.
I personally feel that it is not in your child's best interest if you just plop them in front of the TV for hours.

But if it is for a limited time during the day and they are enjoying it and learning new concepts and vocabulary, then go for it. The more variety your child is exposed to is better. If he hears a word in conversation with you, then sees it written on screen and used in a dialog on TV, he will probably learn it faster. I say you are doing a great job and don't worry.

I let my kids watch baby einstein videos for about 35-40 min a day. But I point things out to them on the screen. They love it.
Hope that helped a little.
Take care,



answers from Philadelphia on

my daughter is 7 months, i dont' let her watch tv, and plan on allowing her 1/2 hr per day when she gets older, I am going to try not to let her watch any at all (i may be signing a diff tune when she gets oldre!) i think if ur child really enjoys it, it is ok for 1/2 an hr



answers from Philadelphia on

I limited my son's TV time to one hour a day. It really helped with keeping it in check as he got older. My son also loved Elmo and Sesame Street. We would always read books about his favorite characters though and now he is going into second grade and he is a great reader. It's really up to you what you allow but I think that it's really hard to go backwards once you've gone forward. It's like giving a kid candy and then asking him to eat green's a tough sell. I just thought if I let him watch too much when he was young that he would want more and more as he got older. That's just my opinion. I hope it makes sense.



answers from Philadelphia on

My experience is that television is addictive. That's why so many children will sit and watch tv all day if allowed to. My daughter is no exception. If I let her, she will watch television all day every day. She loves to read, to play outside, ride her bike, do arts and crafts, play games, but she will choose television over everything consistently if I let her, and she's proved it over and over again. And note - she was not like that when she was a young child. This developed over time.

I think that your son watching tv and liking it is fine. I would suggest you begin to teach him early that he watches say an hour of television on any day, even now when he may not understand how long an hour (or maybe half hour at his age) is. You could say, "Oh, do you want to watch your half hour of tv now?" when you go to turn on the tv.

I make this suggestion because that is what I have to get through to my daughter, and she understand the rule, but it would work better if the rule was a part of her entire television experience. She is 10, and she doesn't get to watch tv every day, because she has a busy school day. She is allowed an hour a day though (of computer or tv time). I notice that when she doesn't have access to the tv (first thing to go when she is on punishment) she reads even more - and she does read a lot.

I also found that she was watching a lot of tv if she was staying with my family members. So to balance that out, she pretty much never watched tv at home. This all went to the pot when I moved in with my mom. Then her love for television was fed by my mother's tv addiction, which honestly has also affected me. I'm actually getting rid of all televisions when we move.

As children get older, it gets more difficult, the entire tv thing. There are a million shows on the cable and network stations, and children don't mind watching the same rerun of a show a dozen times. They have so many shows for every age group, and they will want to watch all of them. And they'll seem fine, but there are so many stereo types, including gender based stereotypes in all these shows, that tell your little boy just who to be to become a perfect consumer as an adolescent, teen and adult male.

I am susceptable to tv the way children are. I've actually noticed that I've begun to spend the week looking forward to Sunday and Monday when The 4400 and Kyle XY come on. I've never been like that, but these shows are designed to suck you in, and children are less able to see it or control their reaction to it. The marketing campaign just around a new episode of a show is ridiculous. Children will know a week in advance when a new episode of That's so Raven or The Suite Life of Zack and Cody will be airing.

I imagine you know someone who builds their life around their shows - when you can call them, when they have to be home - or who just sit with their remote and watch tv all day. I find that our minds are very susceptable to it.

I think the best thing I did was get rid of the televisions before my daugther turned a year. Then we never could turn to it. She was used to no tv's at home, and though she got to watch tv at other's homes, didn't expect it at home. I know a lot of people wouldn't be prepared to do that, but she definitely was better off without it, which is why we're going back.

Eventually my grandparents' bought her a tv, but we seldom watched it. She actually came to me once and said, I don't know what to do if I can't watch TV right now. There was nothing appropriate for her to watch on our non-cable tv set at that hour. She never had that problem when there was no tv, she always has every activity under the sun! When I mentioned that I could get rid of the TV if it was making it hard for her to think, she suddenly came up with all kinds of ideas, and entertained herself without the television.

Anyway, Sesame Street is a great show, and I think nothing is wrong with watching a little TV, I'm just pointing out some of what I've observed and experienced so you can consider those things as you plan and develop a culture in your house around the use of television by the members of your family.



answers from Philadelphia on

Dear K.:

I think you had already done the right things for your son. You provide him with so many activities to benefit and fortify his developing and learning. I would not be too concerned about how much time he can watch the TV programs for children each day, as long as he does not glue to the TV set whole mornig or whole afternoon. My son learned all his alphabets, numbers and many othe skills from watching Sesame Street, Mr. Rogers and Reading Rainbows,etc.on TV. He got the head start when he started school.
M. L

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