Choosing appropriate television programming for your young child can be difficult. The American Academy of Pediatrics advises that children younger than age 2 should not watch television at all. In addition, the AAP recommends limiting television viewing to one or two hours of carefully selected programming each day for older children. Quality programming is best for children because, as the AAP points out, children do not differentiate between television shows and commercial advertising. Balance television viewing with energy-burning activities, such as playing outside or dancing, and creative endeavors, such as painting.
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Children who watch educational television shows, such as “Sesame Street,” may have greater verbal, math and school-readiness skills, according to the AAP. “Sesame Street” features skits and songs that teach interpersonal relationship strategies, number sense and phonemic awareness. With brightly colored puppets, playful children and attractive cartoon sequences, “Sesame Street” can also hold the attention of a toddler when a parent must leave the room for a few minutes.
Other PBS Shows
Many of the television shows on PBS are geared toward very young children and offer some educational value. Examples include “Sid the Science Kid,” “Curious George,” “Clifford's Puppy Days” and “Thomas & Friends.” The storylines and characters are appealing to young kids, and they may pick up some of the concepts presented in a child-friendly way.
Nick Jr. Shows
Nickelodeon offers Nick Jr., a lineup meant to appeal to the toddler and preschool crowd, during certain hours of the morning. Programming during this time includes “Dora the Explorer,” a show that teaches some Spanish vocabulary; “Go Diego Go,” which teaches young children about animals and their habitats; and “The Backyardigans,” which features young animated animals using their imaginations in their backyard. In some programming packages, Nick Jr. is its own channel that shows television shows for young children 24 hours daily, with no commercials. This station used to be known as Noggin. In addition to the programs listed above, this dedicated channel offers some kiddie shows that Nickelodeon does not have in its lineup, such as "Miss Spider’s Sunny Patch Friends" and "Blue’s Clues."
Disney Channel Programming
The Disney Channel also features several programs that toddlers may enjoy. “Little Einsteins” is a cartoon featuring young animated children learning about the world around them by traveling on a rocket ship. JoJo from “JoJo's Circus” encourages kids to get off the couch and to join her as she dances and sings. Young children also will enjoy "My Friends, Tigger & Pooh" and "Mickey Mouse Clubhouse."