Wednesday, 11 May 2011

25% of parents admit to using TV as a babysitter... I'd say that's a gross under-admission, what do you think??

The most recent Hello press release looks at TV watching survey with interesting results. The poll was carried out to mark the launch of a new programme which started yesterday for children of pre-school age – Raa Raa the Noisy Lion  – and a new ten point plan for parents on TV Time, devised by experts to mark the Hello campaign, 2011 national year of communication. We'll look at the 10 point plan in another blog post. As with any survey, people will give the answer they think they should give or the one they think you want, rather than whole-hearted truthfulness and I believe that there is an element of this which sways the results. 1000 parents of 2 - 6 year olds were approached:

Almost all of the parents (93%) let their young children watch television and contrary to popular belief, seven out of ten parents do not feel guilty about allowing their children to watch TV. Of those parents, 42% think TV is a great way for kids to learn but only 16% always watch with their kids for ‘bonding time’, with 25% using TV as a ‘babysitter’. 

I would say that the TV is used as a babysitter by a huge number as we've ALL done that at some point or other including me! As for it being educational.... it depends on the programme. It needs to be age-appropriate and meaningful and should be shared with an adult. The 54% who allow their children to watch ‘adult’ programmes, (with  Eastenders,  The X Factor and  Coronation Street  being voted the most common) surely can't believe that they are teaching the child anything?? Plus, nearly  78% of  parents’ claim the two hours their children spend watching TV each day is done alone.... 2 hours??? Most pre-schoolers I know watch far more than that!! 66% of parents don’t know the characters or storylines from the shows their kids are watching and when parents do co-view approximately  20% sit in silence with their children. Very few (15%) are using TV  programmes as a ‘conversation starter’ when the TV is turned off.

It hi-lights that parents need more information and advice on suitable TV programmes  and how to co-view with their child.  

Smart Talkers Pre-school Communication groups and Small Talk Speech & Language Therapy are supporting The Hello campaign, which aims to make children and young people’s communication development a national priority. We would recommend Raa Raa the Noisy Lion, as a quality television programme for 2-4 year olds. The new series explores children’s communication skills through the use of  Raa Raa’s 4 Rs – repetition, rhyme, rhythm and retelling.  

For more information go to and to find out about the Hello campaign visit   


  1. I've wrestled with this subject a lot Libby. My two watch half an hour while I make tea but other than that any tv is together, they don't have tv's in their rooms and never will if I have my way and we only have two in the house (one in the front room and one in our bedroom - which was installed when I was pregnant and I admit I do love now for those 5am starts!). I do know all the characters and we do discuss it when the programme is on and relate back to it at other times (things like Auntie Mabel on Come Outside are brilliant for that). The difficulty I find is having a 7yr old and a 2yr old we are very careful about what they watch but we have to be fair and that sometimes means the 2yr old watching 7yr old programmes (I'm old fashioned and they only watch CBBC or Cbeebies because I believe in the quality choices of the BBC and love their programmes) but my 2yr old already loves Scooby Doo and knows who Tracy Beaker is and that bothers me. As for the 7yr old she watches Dancing on Ice for a treat sometimes but would never be allowed to watch soaps (unless Nanny is babysitting of course!) because the content is unnecessarily aggressive and sexual and just generally inappropriate I think. It is difficult as their bedtimes push later though isn't it? L still goes to bed at 7pm with D but she reads for an hour and we've got round it that way for now. I've waffled too much now but it is a really interesting subject and there are a lot of parents who are telling porkies judging by those stats!