My 2 years old daughter love to watch TV so we let her do that sometimes. We always ask her to sit on the couch which is ~2 meters away from the TV and she do that, however after few minutes she will always get up and go closer to the screen.

When we ask her to get back to the couch she obeys, but again - only for few minutes.

Should we take her for eyesight test, or is this normal behavior for this age?

Update - at the age of 3, she got glasses and since then all is good. Turned out to be eyesight issue indeed.

  • 4
    Anecdotally, my son, who is 2 and seems to have pretty good eyesight, does exactly the same thing. I suspect this is pretty normal. "Only for a few minutes" seems to sum up the average attention span at that age for most instructions.
    – user420
    Oct 9, 2012 at 14:31
  • @Beofett thanks for the feedback; any suggestions how to keep her on the couch then? Oct 9, 2012 at 14:32
  • In my experience, either constantly remind her, or put obstacles in her way (like furniture) to make it difficult if not impossible to get closer. We've opted for constantly reminding my son, and he seems to be getting a bit better about it.
    – user420
    Oct 9, 2012 at 14:54
  • If you were to decide to not get her eyes checked specifically because of this, when would her next regular eye check be, and when was her last one?
    – corsiKa
    Oct 9, 2012 at 18:53
  • Why not just let her sit near the TV? Oct 9, 2012 at 21:16

6 Answers 6


This is definitely normal, and not just at that age, although they do get better at following instructions as they get older (caveat- I don't have teenagers so this may all change...)

Just keep popping the child back on the couch, tell them not to get close to the TV and ideally sit on the couch with them for a cuddle. This will provide positive reinforcement that the couch is a comfy place.

  • Thanks, we do tell her "well done" every time she gets back to the couch and we do sit besides her - but she just gets down after few minutes. Oct 10, 2012 at 6:57

I would think that it's not an eyesight issue but simply that the story is so exciting that she wants to be closer to it. It's like when granny says, "It's story time, kids, come closer."

GdD offers great ideas for DIY eyesight tests, or visit a professional if you're concerned. But if it's not evident except for TV then it's probably not that. Rory suggests to join them on the couch, which is what I would do, too.

  • Good point, but I don't think that's the case (story is so exciting that she wants to be closer to it). She doesn't try to touch the screen or anything and when on the couch, she still interacts with the characters in the same manner. Oct 10, 2012 at 6:55

If you're concerned then you could do your own eyesight check. Get some pictures of things she knows the names of, for instance a bird, car, etc. Make sure she's never seen them. Tell her you're going to play a game, and make sure someone's there to make sure she stays on the sofa while you stand TV distance away. Hold up the pictures one by one and see if she can see what they are. If she can't see them get an eyesight check.

Go for walks and point to things far away and ask her what she sees. Can she recognize her daddy from 30m away? 10m? Does she point to birds in the sky? If not, she may been glasses.

  • Well, today she sat with me in a different spot about double the distance to the TV than the couch and she seemed to see just fine, telling the characters names etc. Good suggestion about birds in the sky and recognizing me from a distance, will give it a try. :) Oct 10, 2012 at 7:00

I think the real issue here is that toddlers aren't designed to watch TV. If you want to watch TV, then have other things (coloring, blocks, trains, etc) for her to do with you while you watch. But better yet, wait until she goes to bed. At her age she has a lot of growing and learning to do, none of which is going to happen from watching TV. Babies learn from getting up close and personal!

Check out this TED Talk on the language acquisition of babies. If you watch it, you'll see her talk about the effects on baby's speech development from watching the a real person read a book vs watching that person on TV.

  • When she's awake we rarely watch TV ourselves; it's "her" things like this one. Oct 26, 2012 at 9:02
  • Oh well then don't put it on - nothing beneficial comes from watching TV at that age! If you really want her to watch it then just turn it off when she gets too close. Just say "oops, too close." I think there can be some value to TV later (though not live TV with commercials/ads) because you can read a book as family, then watch the movie as a family treat and then talk about the differences, surprises, or how you would have pictured the characters differently, etc. And, as others have mentioned, it can have some educational benefits, but not this young. Oct 26, 2012 at 16:11
  • And I would also add that when you say too close, tell her it will hurt her eyes. Saying no without explanation feels arbitrary. And, you want her do the right thing, even when you aren't there (certainly this applies much later, but still) so give her the reason. And, if you can't think of a reason, that's when you know the answer doesn't need to be no :) (and because I said so does not count as reason!). Best example is getting too close to the street. You might have your back turned one day and you certainly want her to have developed not going into the street as her value, not just yours! Oct 26, 2012 at 16:13
  • OK, fair points - thanks for the input! :) Oct 26, 2012 at 21:58
  • Anytime. Kudos to you for paying attention and noticing potential issues (like symptoms of bad eyesight)! Oct 27, 2012 at 0:08

This issue was covered on Skeptics.SE, and the answer was, no, there is no effect.

Here is the link: https://skeptics.stackexchange.com/questions/404/does-watching-television-damage-the-eyes

  • 1
    I think the asker considers this the other way round: does she want to sit close because she has bad eyesight. Still, good info. Oct 9, 2012 at 18:23
  • @Torben is correct, that's not what I meant in this question. :) Oct 10, 2012 at 7:00
  • herp derp, that's why I get for answering without reading. My bad.
    – mmr
    Oct 10, 2012 at 16:40

I also observed this thing with my 1 year and 8 month old son. He really tends to go near the TV and then, when I asked him to move over, after some time he is there again. Whenever he does this, its almost routinary that I have to pick him away from the TV, and then he goes back, again. Sometimes, what I do, is I put some barriers so he wont get too near the TV, or I will get his favorite chair, so he will be encourage to sit on his designated area.

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