Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Let the Truth Be Told, On Tuesday: In Defense of Barney

Truth: I am one of those moms (or one of "those" moms, depending on how you say it) who thinks that a little TV watching isn't so bad for my son. In fact, there are many valid reasons why I think it's good for him. I can tell you that Miles watches some "TV" every day.

Before you call child protective services, hear me out:

1) He doesn't watch hours and hours every single day. We don't plop him down in front of the TV and leave him there to stare at it for an entire morning or afternoon. That is sort of laughable to think about because for Miles to sit still for that long would take an act of God, anyway. But the point is that a little DVD action in the car or to calm him down before bedtime is not going to fry his brain. My mom is a dietitian (ret.) and her mantra about food is: Everything in moderation. I apply this to many parts of my life, including TV. We aren't excessive about it. We practice moderation. Sensible, yes?

2) We don't let him watch South Park. Or even Sponge Bob. In fact, we don't watch TV channels at all. We watch DVDs only. That way we can regulate what he sees, and we can also cut out the amount of commercials that he is exposed to. Our choices are relatively educational in nature: Elmo's World, Sesame Street, Little People, Go Diego Go and Barney are the only DVDs that we own. He l.o.v.e.s. Barney. And (here's another moment of truth) SO DO I. Here's my defense of Barney for all you hecklers out there: If you have a kid that likes music and likes to dance, Barney is the way to go. Miles does the actions to many of the songs and dances his little tushy off, too. Barney teaches manners, makes it fun to brush your teeth and teaches kids how to use their imaginations. What's so wrong with that? Barney is not the most annoying fictional kids character out there. Not by a long shot. Yes, the kids on Barney are unusually smiley and disarmingly happy. Yes, the songs might get stuck in your head. But by and large Barney pretty much tops my list as the best of the best. I approve.

3) DVDs can be super good for your child's learning. I firmly believe that some of the DVDs that we watch have improved Miles vocabulary and language skills. They have certainly gone a long way toward him starting to learn to count and say the alphabet.

4) We spend way more time reading books than we do watching DVDs. Enough said.

5) We watch the DVDs with him, and engage him in conversation about what he is seeing. We do not set him down in front of the TV and walk away. We sit with him, snuggle and sing along to the songs together. You can't tell me that isn't good 'quality time' spent. It truly is.

6) Sitting down to watch a DVD gives Miles the chance to focus and calm down in a world where he is usually running, running, running. Believe me, his activity level is a gift not a curse. But I think that having a variety of activities is good for all of us. It lengthens his attention span and helps to prepare him for a time when he might be required to sit for a greater period of time.

In summation (I feel like a lawyer giving closing arguments), I will defend Barney any day of the week and twice on Sunday. I am not putting all of this out there to actually be defensive about it (although I know I will get some who disagree with my philosophy, and I fully expect to get crucified for this). I put it out there because I think we are quick to condemn things that might actually not turn out to be so bad in the end. I know that some will site research on brain development and blah blah blah...if I had any reservation at all about Miles' development you can bet your Barney I would think twice before letting him watch. But he's fine. It's fine. And again, everything in moderation.

The truth, my friends, is now out there. ;)


  1. Wow - is it bad that I don't feel the least bit guilty letting G~ watch SpongeBob? Or Dora? Hey, he counts with Dora and says a few Spanish words that I didn't even know before the Dora phase. G~ is my third child...maybe that has something to do with it. :)

  2. I was allowed to watch television as a kid, in moderation, and only VHS tapes up until I was 9. I don't think my mind is rotted away, I'd say I use it everyday. I just think that parents are so desperate to raise a perfect child they tend to take everything to extremes. Even if you did park them in front of a movie to just vegetate for a while, it can't be as bad for them as all of the over scheduling and running around they do most of the time. Let the little guys have a break.

  3. sister. i am with you.
    i'm laughing hysterically, and i am with you.
    not on the barney thing all together, but...

    we watch t.v. here, too. as miles gets a little bit older, PLEASE consider PBS kids... Caillou rocks, and so does Sid the Science Kid. we also love Curious George.
    Oh, and Miss Spider. Have you ever seen Miss Spider? Theo watched A TON of her when he was 2 years old.
    i loved reading about what miles is watching.

    let the truth be told. even if the truth is a big purple dinosaur. :)

  4. You know, I have no problem with TV. (In moderation)If I could get my child to sit for it, it would probably become a daily activity here. Maybe I need to try curious george. I will say that Barney (so far) is a big bust here. As soon as S sees him, he runs to the back of the couch signing "all done." Elmo is a different story...

  5. Well, of course BEFORE the child came I was very sure I was going to do little or no TV with her. Along with a million other things I felt very strongly about so I could be the perfect mom. Um, yeah, you know how well that's going for us! While I do want to cut back on the TV here, I'll admit that I do feel there are positives to it besides a bit of sanity for me. D can recognize most of her letters and that is in great part thanks to a couple of videos. She's got strong verbal and comprehension skills and loves to sing and dance, again all at least in part thanks to videos. So maybe someday I'll be that perfect mom who cuts way back like I want, but for now I'm cutting myself slack on this one.

    And yep, one of her favorites right now is DEFINITELY Barney. But she does also like Sesame, Sid the Science Kid, Curious George (that passion just started) and some fun videos.

    In the grand scheme of parenting decisions I make, I'm trying to cut myself a little more slack on this one, at least for now.

  6. Totally agree! TV is good. Everything is good in moderation. I do love Barney and never have been annoyed by him. Both girls sing his Clean-Up song and put their toys away! He is my idol.

  7. No arguments from me--I am sure there will my DVD and Barney watching in my future too.

  8. I agree!! We watch DVD's too. No more cable in our house to allow the temptation of a show for mommy.
    We normally sit together although occasionally I'll fix dinner or get myself ready to go while she watches on her own. I have noticed a big jump in her attention span lately too, hadn't really thought about it being due to watching a DVD with her.


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