TV Channel Targets Babies, Because Screen Time Wasn’t Controversial Enough
Ask any parent about children’s television programming and they’ll surely be able to tell you which shows they love and hate, but now they’ll get a chance to do that with infant television programming too. According to the Wall Street Journal, BabyFirstTV is angling to become the first major children’s TV network to target babies as young as six months.
The channel has been around for a few years, but only recently began gaining a sizeable viewership. It surpassed 50 million viewers in January, catching the attention of major cable providers like Time Warner and leading to new deals with both distributors and advertisers. BabyFirstTV is now amping up their brand and looking to compete with powerhouses like Disney and Nickelodeon as the first channel specifically targeted at infants.
The idea of heavily marketed television for babies is sure to ruffle some feathers. Even if young babies are already watching shows on Disney and other channels, those channels are still primarily focused on preschool kids and certainly aren’t going out of their way to capture the infant market. BabyFirstTV is pushing a boundary. The American Academy of Pediatrics still recommends no TV before age two, but as the Wall Street Journal Reports, a recent Kaiser Family Foundation survey found that most babies are watching television — some as much as 108 minutes per day — despite recommendations.
“What is important is what we put our kids in front of and we think we are offering the cleanest, safest alternative,” said Sharon Rechter, who co-founded BabyFirst with her husband Guy Oranim.
While putting a six-month-old in front of the television probably won’t lead to any long term problems, it seems extreme to target such a young age group. Babies are easily fascinated and always learning. They really don’t need television shows to aid them in that. If anything, television is a distraction that keeps them from investigating and exploring their world.
Toddlers who can understand the basics of what’s going on in a show seem to get something from educational television. I know shows like Super Why and Daniel Tiger have taught my three-year-old a lot of new things and led to us talking about new concepts. It’s different with infants. They’re easily overstimulated and aren’t yet making sense of what they’re seeing. If babies are already watching television, it’s good for parents to have this option, but targeting infants specifically and normalizing television for six-month-olds just seems like a step in the wrong direction.