Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Kids and The TV, Oh My!

I read a good handful of blogs and I noticed on this one particular mom blog that she and her husband do not allow their two young kids (ages 3 and 5) to watch videos or television more than one time per week. Personally, I think that this is going to an extreme. I mean it does matter what they watch—the quality of the program, but I don’t see any reason why kids can’t watch an hour of (or one) video a day. Call me a crazy mom, but I would not have survived if I didn’t plug in a movie or a musical: The Sound of Music and Mary Poppins were among the favorites of my kids during those “precious” years. Just one hour, or so, a day so that I could catch a break and a breath; then off to the parks, or to the bookstore, or on a play date, or to the video store (ha-ha).

When I was growing up my parent did not limit television watching for my siblings and me. In fact, we all had a TV in our bedrooms and it was always background sound. I don’t think it made me any less smart than I was destined to be (I think I can hold my own and have been told that I’m pretty smart) and my sister had always made the honor roll in school (show off!).

Conversely, my cousins who grew up near us were not permitted to watch television. In fact, it was taken away so they didn’t have one in their house for the longest time. How did they turn out? The verdict … please: The same. Well, actually, they are less social than my sister and I and they never made honor roll. They did not go to better colleges and they are not more successful than we are.

In fact, of all the people that I knew growing up who didn’t have television in their homes because their parents were raising “better” and “smarter” kids, I must say this: when these kids would come over to visit me at my house, all they wanted to do for fun was watch television. They couldn’t get enough, because they weren’t “getting any.” In the end, it made me less inclined to have these kids visit because it made them look like big TV junkies.

What’s funny, too, is that when my kids were 2 and 3 and were not talking (due to their autism) a few members of my “in-laws” thought it could only mean that I was probably propping my kids in front of the television all day watching Barney and the entire WGBH broadcast, for that matter. In fact, one day a particular in-law came over, an event that was as infrequent as the eclipse of the sun, walked into my house and had the nerve to close the doors to my television armoire as if telling me something … Don’t you just love it when a non-parent tries to parent. If this person had actually come over more often, then this person would have noticed that we had a jam-packed playroom and as many kid books as the bookstore itself (well, almost as many!!). And that he would have noticed that my kids were great at imaginary play (my son, especially), arts and crafts and that they both loved books! I was thinking that perhaps if this person had only graced us with his mere presence more often, then my kids would really be talking!!! Right? RIGHT? (Okay, angry in-law moment is over!)

The Verdict (in my opinion): Balance, and quality programs. My 14-year-old son does watch a couple of movies a week. He actually rents age appropriate movies from Netflix. He also watches the History channel with us on occasion, which I think it is a great learning channel. Yes, I will admit that he watches, on occasion, Cartoon Network and his newest favorite show is Two and a Half Men (sitcom), but, again, balance is key. He also does other activities: swims, jumps on his trampoline, runs track at school, and read. And we take day trips on the weekends quite a bit!

How about you? What's your opinion about kids and TV?

1 comment:

Christina Shaver said...

I don't really have a problem with TV. It's part of the reality of our times. As long as the program is age appropriate, I think it's fine.

I do have an issue, though, with children watching shows that are too mature for them. I err on the side of allowing them to view shows that are too young for them than too old.

In my house with a 4 year old and nearly 3 year old, they are allowed to watch public television children's programs, Noggin and DVDs I have purchased. And that's a LOT of programs.