We should clarify what “kid” means before we get started: babies, infants, toddlers, preschoolers, grade schoolers, high schoolers, tweens, and teenagers are all kids. Like it or not, if your parents are buying a TV for your room, you’re a kid!
Each age group has different needs, so we’ll discuss the differences as we walk you through the TV buying considerations.
- Best TV for Babies: None (they shouldn’t watch)
- Best TV for Toddlers: Shared (the TV you already have)
- Best TV for
Is TV bad for babies?
Rather than suggest you buy one of the best TVs for babies we felt it more responsible to consider whether or not you should let your baby watch TV at all.
Current recommendations from a variety of professional medical organizations suggest that TV is bad for babies and infants under 2 years old:
- The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) discourages TV for children younger than 2 years old, claiming it hampers their cognitive development, especially for language learning.
- The World Health Organization (WHO) goes further, suggesting kids younger than 2 should not have screen time.
Let’s face it: screen time is a reality in our world, whether it’s targeted to kids or the kids are in the room while adults are watching. That’s fine, but the fact remains: physical activity, solo play time, and real life social interactions are always preferred over TV shows, videos, apps, and other types of screen content for babies 2 years old and under.
Although watching some TV is unavoidable, don’t fall into the trap of frequently playing baby-oriented content that makes claims about the educational benefits for your kid. These are typically thinly veiled marketing attempts intended to sell you a product.
Content developed specifically for babies is better than watching Arnold Schwarzzenager in Terminator 2 (the best one), but screen time should still be kept to a minimum and is better when combined with adult supervision and social interaction.
You may feel inclined to disagree, citing your baby’s fascination with colors, or ability to learn tapping and swiping on your phone, but don’t be fooled: the important milestones for babies are rooted in physical and emotional cause and effect.
Next time you’re cooking dinner and turn on the TV to pre-occupy the baby, consider that not turning on the TV is a much better option. It gives your baby time to think, learn, and process rather than just watch, the latter of which can disturb their ability to sleep.
If you’re surprised by these recommendations, you shouldn’t be: too much TV is bad for adults too, and can contribute to depression. Heavy words coming from a resource built for TV buyers.
What’s the Best TV for Toddlers?
For kids older than 2, television can be beneficial. Named “toddlers” for the phase they learn to walk (or toddle), their cognitive growth and development has also shifted at this age. But not enough to recommend they watch TV.
Putting a TV in a Toddler’s bedroom or playroom is not recommended. TV and Screen time should be limited to shared areas that are easily monitored with planned watching of 1 hour or less. With that in mind…
The best TV for toddlers is whatever TV is being used by adults in the living room
Toddlers are like little sponges that soak up every bit of information that hits their ears, eyes, and fingertips. Content with a clear beginning and ending that provides verbal repetition across different visual contexts can be beneficial and reinforce good learning habits.
It’s great to know that TVs can be good for toddlers, but parents shouldn’t be using it as babysitter. The WHO recommends less than 1 hour of TV time for children 5 and under, and even then, it’s best for parents to participate in the watching experience, making it engaging and interactive.
At this age it’s especially important to keep a close eye on what your child watches on TV. They will begin to listen, learn, and repeat everything they hear. Some of the best TV shows for toddlers include Sesame Street, Bubble Guppies, Word World, and Blues Clues.
What’s the Best TV for Kids in Preschool and Elementary School?
At this point, your child has surpassed the age at which TV watching is medically discouraged. While most sane professionals would recommend creating limits, rules, and boundaries, every parent will have their own opinion on what’s appropriate for their kids. And that’s fine.
The best TV for preschoolers, elementary schoolers, and middle schoolers is the family TV that’s already in the living room. Studies suggest that bedroom media consumption has numerous adverse effects such as:
- Poor school performance
- Increased physical aggression
- Sleeping problems
- Obesity and reduced physical activity
- Video game obsession
Whether you buy into this “no TV in the bedroom” rule for kids is a personal preference. Many parents have changed their mind and made it work for them. And kids are now growing up to become competitive gamers in eSports or famous Twitch streamers that have lucrative careers surpassing the salaries of famous athletes.
We still can’t conscientiously recommend putting a big screen TV in a kid’s bedroom, so if that’s your goal- you’re on your own. Our best suggestion is to replace and hand-me-down the TV in another room or buy one of the best cheap TVs.