So, according to a new report by the cheerily titled Archives of Disease in Childhood, we should be setting limits on the amount of time our children spend watching television. Oh, and (parents, sit down) kids under the age of three should be banned from watching television altogether. That is to say they should not be allowed to watch it at all. EVER.
Just a quick question from the mother of a voraciously inquisitive two-year-old who awakes at 5am most mornings loudly pondering philosophical quandaries such as "What is tomorrow, mummy?" and doesn't stop until she falls into a milk-induced coma 14 hours later: Really?! Have you thought about what you're saying?
While there is every reason to curb the amount of time a child should spend glued to a screen (there's a whole world out there, and rooms to tidy and dishes to wash), as a parent life is stressful enough so if there is one thing that enables you to get through the day a little easier, you cling on to that – for everyone's sake. And a little screen break (be it from the television, iPad or laptop) every now and then does just that, providing a click-of-a-switch way to distract a tiny ball of insatiable child-energy just long enough for you to rustle up a nutritionally balanced lunch, wash their clothes, catch up on work, or – whisper it – get some much-needed rest. (FYI, new mums, CBeebies may not start until 6am but the iPlayer is available 24 hours a day.)
If television gives you the moment's peace you need to do one of the million and one things raising a child demands; don't knock it. Besides, if you choose programmes such as Alphablocks and the moral guru Mike the Knight over, say, Tweenies, because no one needs an oversized neon monster who can't enunciate in their lives, some of these babysitters – I mean shows – are rather jolly. Even – dare I say it? – educational.