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France Bans Baby TV – Should America Ban Baby Television Shows?

Last week, France banned television shows aimed at the under threes. US channels like BabyFirstTV and Baby TV air in France. Legislators, concerned about possible developmental delays in babies who watch too much TV, called the BabyFirstTV and Baby TV channels a “danger”, and these channels will be going off-air in France.

French cable broadcasters that show foreign channels with baby programming will have to broadcast a warning message that reads: ?Watching television can slow the development of children under three, even when it involves channels aimed specifically at them.?

According to the French legislators, ?Television viewing hurts the development of children under three years old and poses a certain number of risks, encouraging passivity, slow language acquisition, over-excitedness, troubles with sleep and concentration as well as dependence on screens.?

I can see their point, especially reading this from Baby TV’s website,

Baby TV was conceived following a sleepless night spent rewinding a baby video at the demand of an unrelenting toddler. Our creators imagined a service which offered easy access to programming specifically designed for babies around the clock.”

Are you disturbed by this too? What reason could there be to stay up all night with a toddler who wanted to watch a video? Why wasn’t the kid in bed? Even if this toddler was sick, watching a video surely isn’t the answer? Wouldn’t it be more soothing to read a book, or listen to music instead? And when my toddler demands something, it doesn’t mean he gets it.

The American Association of Pediatricians concurs with the French: they recommend NO television for children under two, and limited viewing hours for pre-schoolers.

BabyFirstTV clearly disagrees. The subscription-based channel says that “BabyFirstTV is an interactive tool for parents to engage their infants and toddlers ranging from 6 months to 3 years.”

I don’t like being told what to do, or what not to do, and that responsible parents should be able to make their own decisions about how much television their children can and can’t watch. I think it’s somewhat draconian to say NO TV EVER as it’s occasional use has been very helpful in my house. My son doesn’t watch much TV at all, but when I got sick recently, being able to lie on the couch and doze while my son watched an hour of Barney was a blessing.

So I think the French legislation, while well intentioned, is ultimately going to be ineffective for keeping babies from television. Surely French parents are just going to sit their babies and toddlers in front of programs aimed at the over threes? Including programs with violence and themes that might be disturbing to very young children?

Here’s some tips for managing and limiting kid’s TV time.

What do you think? Was France right to ban baby television channels? Do you think America should ban baby TV shows too?


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