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Should Children Under Two Watch Television?

Updated on October 22, 2014
Mr Tumble from Something Special
Mr Tumble from Something Special | Source

Is Television Ok For Our Children?

I saw this question today "Should Children Under 2 Watch Television?" I initially started to type out my reply, but when that response quickly began to look like an essay, I decided to write a hub about it instead.

First let me begin by saying that I, in no way agree with children being sat down in front of the television for hours on end. I believe any television time should be in moderation. However i completely disagree that children under 2 years of age should have no television time, and here is my reason why.

Alfie, is our gorgeous four and a half year old Son. He is the baby of our family, being the youngest of three boys. Not even five, Alfie already has an irresistible charm about him, and is loved by everyone he meets. He is a very outgoing child, he enjoys listening to stories, making things with art and crafts and singing and dancing. Alfie is definitely a born entertainer. When he is not making us laugh with his funny songs and dances, he will usually be running around outside. He also enjoys going to his grandparents caravan, and swimming with his Nana. Alfie has a real zest for life and is a joy to be around.

Alfie was not always this way, there was a time when he would not speak or interact with others. Considering our other two boys were early learners and very lively, we were extremely anxious and worried about Alfie's late development. Alfie saw numerous professionals, but still came no answers. Was it something we was doing wrong? Is there something medically wrong with our child? Both questions we asked ourselves time and time again.

Meet Alfie
Meet Alfie | Source

A Bit About Our Alfie

When Alfie was 3 years old he started day care, and although he could by now say certain words, his speech was still not understandable. The day care soon picked up on Alfie's speech and his problems with interaction. Alfie was soon assigned a case worker, who worked with both us and the day care in finding ways to encourage Alfie's development.

A few months after being at the day care, Alfie started showing some obsessive behaviour. He would line all his toys up in a straight line and get angry if they were out of place.

Alfie would become fixated on one book at a time, so for weeks on end you could only read that one book to him. He found it hard expressing himself and his feelings, so he would become upset, angry and aggressive with no warning and for no apparent reason.

I decided to go back to our Doctor and ask for some advice. The Doctor tried to talk with Alfie, and noted that his communication skills were not what they should be for his age group. The Doctor felt Alfie could have 'Asperger Syndrome' which is a 'Autism Spectrum Disorder.' Alfie was soon referred for assessment, and was put on the waiting list.

Should Children be Allowed to Watch Television?

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Mr Tumble
Mr Tumble | Source

Something Special

In the meantime Alfie discovered a Cbeebies programme called 'Something Special.' For those of you who have not heard of this programme, it is a children's programme based on a family called The Tumbles. Mr Tumble is the main character and the most popular one, although all the roles are played by the same man 'Justin Fletcher.'

The programme is aimed at children with delayed learning and communication difficulties. The programme itself features many children with disabilities, and was designed to teach children sign language also called 'Makoton'. 'Something Special' is produced by a man named Allan Johnston. Before producing Something Special, Allan taught children with special needs. The name of the hit children's programme came from the idea that all children, no matter where their position is on the learning spectrum, are special.

Before long, Alfie was signing anything and everything, he would sign at home and at day care. We started recording 'Something Special' everyday, so Alfie could watch it when he got home. He soon became excited to get home and watch his new favourite programme. As well as the signing he began shouting the phrases from the programme at the TV. The most popular phrases being "Mr Tuuuuuumble" when Justin and the children are calling him. And "What's in his spotty bag?" Alfie learnt the hello and goodbye songs from the start and end of the programme. And as his speech became clearer, all he would talk about was his favourite 'Mr Tumble.'

We didn't mind though, we were just happy to have our little boy talking clearly. Alfie moved to a pre school in January of this year, and he has gone from strength to strength. He starts reception year in September and has received help and support in the transition. Alfie finally has his two day assessment for Asperger Syndrome next week, so we are hoping all goes well with that.

Had we have known what an amazing effect 'Something Special' was going to have on our Son, we would have sat him down to watch it sooner. Sometimes we get so wrapped up in what is sociably acceptable, and what we should and should not do as parents, that we forget all children are different. What is right for one, is not necessarily right for another. Every child is different, and all the professionals in the world, can tell us that it is not good for our child to watch television. But our child is not only interacting more. He is talking thanks to Mr Tumble, and that really is something special.

Mr Tumble Signing
Mr Tumble Signing | Source

What is Makaton?

In the hit Cbeebies show Something Special, Justin Fletcher and his Character Mr Tumble, use a sign and symbol language known as Makaton.

The purpose of Makaton, is to help children and adults communicate by using signs symbols, and speech, to support their spoken language.

Signs are used along with speech, in spoken word order. This is beneficial for children who either have no speech or for those who's speech is unclear.

Symbols can be used to help children who either have limited speech, or those that cannot or prefer not to sign, so they can still communicate with others.

Makaton can be used to support communication in a number of ways. Such as

  • Take part in games and songs
  • Write letters and messages
  • Share thoughts and emotions
  • Listen to, read and tell stories
  • help people find their way around public buildings
  • Label real objects, pictures, photo's and places
  • Create menus, recipes and shopping lists

According to the Makaton charity, over 100,000 children and adults, are now using Makaton signs and symbols. Some people will naturally stop using the signs and symbols as their speech becomes clearer, whereas some people will need to use Makaton all their lives.

Makaton can help both children and adults, who have difficulty with

  • Making themselves understood
  • Paying attention
  • Communicating what they want
  • Communicating how they think or feel
  • Remembering sequences
  • Listening to and understanding speech

Makaton uses speech with signs (gestures) and symbols (pictures) to help people communicate. They also use facial expressions, eye contact and body language to give as much information as possible.

When we stop and ask people for directions, they often point to where you need to go, or they draw a diagram. Both these things provide us with more information. This is the same purpose as Makaton.

Studies show, that information which can be seen such as signs and gestures, are easier to learn that spoken words.

The Makaton charity offers a family advisory service, as well as Makaton workshops where you can learn with other people while getting support and feedback.

There is also a number of resources such as a Dvd and books. I recently got Alfie a set of Makaton cards with Mr Tumble on them signing lots of words.

Alfie also gets the Something Special magazine which comes with free Makaton cards on the front of each issue.

If you or your child has communication or language difficulties, then Makaton is well worth looking into. Please see the link below to the Makaton charity website.

Do you use Makaton?

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    • LLambie profile image


      6 years ago from UK

      Lovely article. I hope your little boy is doing well? My daughter is a lot younger, so I still get a little agitated when my husband puts the TV on for her, but your article was really well balanced.

    • zoey24 profile imageAUTHOR


      7 years ago from South England

      Thank you @lindiesl, Many children grew up watching Disney, It is one of the only things i will go out and buy on dvd to watch with the boys. Even as an adult i still think there is something quite magical about the Disney films, and the boys really enjoy them. I totally agree that all children are different, so what works for one is not necessarily right for another. Thank you for stopping by :-)

    • zoey24 profile imageAUTHOR


      7 years ago from South England

      Thank you for your lovely comment @bizzymom, I too enjoyed Seasame Street as a child, unfortunately it is not on our screens anymore. I agree that television should never be used as a babysitter. I also think there are a lot of cartoons that are unsuitable for children today, which is why tv time is always monitored. I have found many programmes that are suitable though, with a lot of them being very educational for small children. All the best to you and your family too :-)

    • lindiesl profile image


      7 years ago from Pennsylvania

      This is a great hub. :) Thank you for sharing. My oldest daughter (now 9) wasn't interested in TV in the slightest so it was never an issue with her. It wasn't until she was 6 that she began to watch shows on the Disney Channel so she could keep up with her friends at school. lol My middle daughter however is the complete opposite of her. She loves the Disney Junior and will sometimes become in a daze watching but after one or two shows she will role play from her experiences of what she learned. My youngest is only 5 months so no telling how she will feel. What I'm trying to say is that every child is different as are parents. I don't think there can be one difinitive answer to that question. Like you said, whatever works.

    • bizzymom profile image


      7 years ago from New York

      This is a great hub. I believe that watching television is beneficial to children under the age of 2 as well as older children as long as it is not used as a babysitter. Both my children were exposed to television from about 8 months old. They both enjoyed Sesame Street and learned their A B C's and how to count at a very young age. They both were able to speak clearly at a very young age. I'm so glad that Mr. Tumble worked so well for your Alfie. I wish you and your family all the best.

    • zoey24 profile imageAUTHOR


      7 years ago from South England

      Hi cactusbythesea,

      Thank you for your lovely comment.

      This is the first time I have wrote a hub in response to a question :-)

      I have been wanting to write a hub about Alfie and 'Something Special' for a while now, so your question gave me the perfect opportunity. Thanks for taking the time to read it :-)

    • zoey24 profile imageAUTHOR


      7 years ago from South England

      Hi mismazda,

      Thank you for your comment; I totally agree that we all have to do what works in our household's :-) As i said in my hub, I don't agree that children should be sat in front of a television for hours on end, and of course TV time should always be monitored. But I believe more than ever now, that children can learn a lot from watching certain programmes. You should still write a similar hub, I think it is good to get different views on topics such as this one. Thanks again :-)

    • cactusbythesea profile image


      7 years ago from Seattle

      Hi Zoey! This is the first time I've had someone write a hub in response to one of my questions, so I was excited to read it. I appreciated reading your story and learning about your perspective. This is a great hub with some thought-provoking points. Thanks for posting this!

    • mismazda profile image


      7 years ago from a southern georgia peach

      Voted up and useful..I agree with this hub. You and I have some of the same views, I answered this question when it was posted earlier today, but anyway..I don't agree either that children should not watch tv, but to each it own. Every child is different, every parent is different, and we all have to do what works in our household....thanks for writing a hub about it...LOL...You beat me to it...well great minds think


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