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My son is 18-months-old and he is in a daycare room with kids 16-months to 2.5 years. Most days when I pick him up they are watching TV. The shows range from somewhat educational (Dora, Sesame St.) to pure entertainment (Horton Hears a Who). I am not sure how much time is devoted to TV but since I pick him up at 4 and the daycare doesn't close until 6, I don't think it is just a few minutes while all the parents are showing up.

I intend to talk with the director about it because it concerns me but before I do, I wanted to get a sense of how reasonable it is for a daycare to be doing this.

Is it appropriate for a daycare to show TV to toddlers?

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It's common. Is it reasonable? That depends. –  DA01 Dec 22 '12 at 21:42
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3 Answers

up vote 20 down vote accepted

This sounds totally inappropriate and a major warning flag. Both my children have been through numerous childcare centres/kindergartens/ELCs and none of them even had a television.

The American Academy of Pediatrics have "that parents should limit the amount of time their infants and toddlers spend in front of any sort of screen and reaffirmed earlier research showing that there’s really no such thing as educational TV or software for very young children." according to this article.

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+1 I absolutely agree that this is not appropriate. (However, it could be a very comfortable way to have all kids quiet and "busy"... absolutely shocking!) –  BBM Dec 21 '12 at 3:42
    
Agreed, of many daycares the only one I've seen that had a TV was a drop-in kind that was more a play thing for an hour than a proper day care. –  mxyzplk Dec 21 '12 at 5:19
    
After all, what are you paying for? –  mmr Dec 21 '12 at 17:56
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In my experience it is common, and even not uncommon to show movies during the day. I've seen this occur in both in-home daycares and larger establishments. The obvious benefit to the daycare or preschool is that it occupies the children and keeps them still for a while. In my opinion, it is totally inappropriate. I was livid to learn that at a supposedly progressive preschool that prided itself on early learning support that a significant part of one day was spent, without prior warning being sent home, in watching one of the "High School Musical" movies.

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For a professional, dedicated daycare, it is absolutely inappropriate.

For in-home daycares, though, it may be difficult to avoid.

As Dave mentioned in his answer, the clear recommendation is that there should be no television exposure before the age of two, and after that the amount of television exposure, if any, should be heavily restricted.

Unfortunately, most people do not seem to follow this. It is very common (at least in my experience) for people to sit infants and toddlers in front of a television to quiet them down.

This can potentially put you in the minority when dealing with private in-home daycare options, particularly if there is a mixed age range.

Our current in-home daycare, which is fully licensed, is a small group of mixed-age children spending the day in the provider's home. They do have a television which is usually running children's shows or movies in the background throughout the day. I was not happy when I found that out, but literally the only other option open to us at the time was a religious daycare offered by a faith I do not personally subscribe to.

Over a year later, we're still with the same daycare, and I've been relieved to find that the television has not become a problem. When I pick my son up, he isn't glued to the television. When I drop him off, he doesn't run to watch the TV. Instead, he plays with the other children, and largely ignores the TV.

It's still not ideal, and again, I would absolutely expect that any dedicated daycare or preschool not make a TV even an option. However, if you do find a highly recommended in-home practice, there is a decent chance that a TV will be used.

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