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…About The Horrifying Dangers of Television

by The Momma on December 3, 2010

The Daddy: Okay. The television: Magic, Entrancing Wonder Machine, or Evil, Brain-Sucking Devil Box? Go.

The Momma: Now that the Noodle actually will sit down and watch TV, I’m torn. It’s a great distraction–a good way to get him to chill for a few minutes, to give us a chance to make dinner, etc. But it’s also REALLY easy to just turn Nick Jr. on and next thing you know, it’s been on all day.

The Daddy: Absolutely. I agree on both parts. There really is a danger to just let it become a pseudo babysitter (an infinitely CHEAPER one, mind you) but at the same time, I look at half the toys he’s got–flashing lights, silly sounds, motion, bright colors– and I have to wonder if the TV is such an awful thing.

The Momma: I don’t think it’s awful, I really don’t. But I do notice that when he watches “too much” TV, he stops doing things like exploring his toys, climbing, trying to figure out how to open another box. I think THAT’s where the danger lies, in stopping that natural curiosity and exploration that he has.

The Daddy: Moderation of course is the key. I know it’s much more crucial at this stage in his development. I’m no scientist, but as I understand it, his brain is the consistency of pistachio pudding at this point, still hardening and forming the important skills he’ll need to being an intelligent, functioning human being. I definitely don’t want him dropping the other skills like exploration for TV watching.

The Momma: No, and I know that we’re both well aware of that. So in some ways, I think it’s not something we need to worry about too much right now–it’s not like we just throw the kid in front of the TV all day while we go do our things. Instead, we usually watch with him, encourage him to get up and dance to the music, point things out to him. When he does watch “alone” it’s, like I said, for a chance to get dinner done or the like.

The Daddy: Yeah, and I’m surprised how easily I took to it. When he’s grumpy, or in a mood, or complaining about his molars ripping through his gums or some other petty thing, it is astounding how useful that magic flicker box can be. The other thought that keep coursing through my head is just how screen-centric we’ve become even in the past few years. Obviously we’re in an internet-focused world now, but between the computer, TV, the iPhone and the iPad, I’d love to see some real numbers of how much time we actually spend in a given day staring at a backlit screen.

The Momma: And it’s only going to get worse–or more extreme. Screens are taking over.

The Daddy: Seriously, if we get an iPad, it’s over. And sadly, I can think of a few reasons why it would honestly be a useful thing in our house. That’s perhaps the sad part- it actually WOULD be useful, not just a toy. I see a distant future where screens are ultimately pervasive, and any and all printing becomes obsolete. But that’s another tale for the futurists out there.

The Momma: Yeah, we’re getting sidetracked.

The Daddy: Well, my bigger point is that as we grew up and lived the age of video games, MTV, modern computers, DVR and the internet, I already assumed our offspring was gonna have a different treatment when it came to “TV time” than our parents. I’m just astounded how in the very recent past, say the last ten years or so, we’ve become probably a good two-fold more screen-centric with texting, smartphones, and more internet focus. What’s his life going to be like, and is there an argument for getting a child started on a screen-based future early?

The Momma: I think there’s some argument for that, yes–his life will be so much different than ours was growing up, so trying to enforce the old ways on the modern day kid is never gonna work. But I do think that there’s a balance there, of when is early, when is too early, and then the biggies of how much and how to do you make it so that kids also are getting the physical movement they need?

The Daddy: Without a doubt. Hell, I’m the guy in full support of children getting injuries. IMHO, I think kids need to get in the dirt, get cuts, scrapes, bruises, crash their bikes, fall out of trees and understand how their bodies work and honestly, cultivate a joy for the outdoors and physical activity in general. As part of the aforementioned heavier screen devotion, I know I’ve personally seen a change in how less active I am, and I’m sure that’s echoed by a good chunk of the rest of this country, no pun intended.

The Momma: At the same time, I can’t imagine our super crazy Noodle not being active in some way. Heck, even when he watches tv he dances, and will spin in circles, and walk around the room. I know that could change, but for now at least, he’s got PLENTY of physical activity.

The Daddy: Yes, in the long run, I think we’ll probably end up struggling to get him to sit and be calm more than we have to worry about television. He’s definitely an active kid, which I hope he remains, as it’ll be a harder task to get him to be active if he isn’t than to get him involved with some kind of technology

The Momma: True that. I think as long as we’re aware and thinking of the balance, we’ll be ok. And hey, sometimes, if the TV will get him to stop climbing the couch and bookshelf for 10 minutes, I’ll take it.

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Megan December 3, 2010 at 1:03 pm

You guys seem to have a good handle on it. And, I agree with you. I never even attempted to wait until Charlotte was two to introduce TV. I think moderation and the fact that we (usually) watch with her to encourage her interaction or point things out, make it okay. Chris is more reluctant than I, but he will turn it on for her, too. For me, it’s fun to introduce her to my favorite Disney movies and watch her fall in love with the characters. It’s more of an experience than a babysitter, Though, I definitely employ it as such when necessary. And, it’s great for getting her to mellow out or calm down when she isn’t feeling well.

I love these conversations you post. They remind me so much of the countless talks Chris and I have about Charlotte and how we want to raise her, our philosophies on parenting, etc.

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