If I had a euro for every time I’ve heard the words “too much TV” and “my kid(s)” in the same sentence… well, let’s just say I could probably buy a huge flatscreen TV with the proceeds.
But I wouldn’t, would I. ‘Cos TV is bad. Bad, Bad, BAD. Evil perhaps?
Literally all of the parents I know feel their kids watch too much TV and it is generally agreed that it has no merit. Yet we all continue to let them watch said amount and then moan about it (to them) and berate ourselves as not good enough parents.
First of all, what is too much? Every day? And what is the right amount? What would we be at peace with, once/twice a week, only on a Saturday morning, none?
And merit? Because our children couldn’t possibly be doing something, say “just for the fun of it”. If it doesn’t add to them in some way…well, what message is that, that people might do stuff just for fun?!
Personally I know I try to control the watching (we do screens/DVDs, TV I don’t do in my house purely and simply ‘cos of the advert bombardment plus here in Spain an innocent channel flick could lead to scarring for life by watching the uncensored news) and I almost always feel that they are watching too much.
I think I feel that the thing I don’t like is that they “should” be doing something else, something more constructive or play based, something enriching. The reality is they do do a lot of enriching stuff, when they aren’t watching they go to a brilliant school (all day!) where they are playing freely and exploring, they are drawing and cutting, or helping us cook, or let’s face it – fighting or getting underfoot when we have a million and one things to do, so the screens are pretty useful as well as in balance.
As for enriching, I’m not just saying this but I do think they have learned a lot from watching. Apart from the myriad of documentaries we have watched (at the mo’ we are getting through The Human Planet, it is ace) boychild is a total film buff. He will watch and enjoy anything from the usual (and, I know, completely unsuitable for an 8 year old…) transformers/spiderman, to black and white comedy classics like Charlie Chaplin and Buster Keeton.
So why do I still feel guilty about it?
Well, partly to do with the studies that prove that on screen violence provokes violence in kids. I hold my hands up that boychild has watched waaaay to many violent scenes. So I feel it may make him violent or angry. But actually, he is less violent and angry than he used to be, so I should concur that it’s probably not the films but the family situation (DH and I are less angry and stressed than we used to be).
And then it’s the links with obesity. But none of them are obese and they do spend a load of time running about at school and we do stuff at the weekend like bike rides, walks etc.
And I think a WHOLE LOAD because I (and you, and you, and you) constantly feel like a not good enough parent and since TV has been vilified again and again we use it as a stick to beat ourselves.
Perhaps I should try to let them watch the same as they do now, and just be at peace with it? OR, let them watch (gasp) as much as they want and be at peace with it? Could I? Would they regulate in the end? People who un-school their kids would say that they do. But then again it would probably get waaay beyond my comfort zone before coming back and being regulated.
On a last note, I don’t remember being regulated by my parents at all for TV as a kid, and I wasn’t violent, obese, or stunted in any way. In fact I was an exceptionally creative child with great social skills and enjoyment in outside activities and nature. I don’t think any of this has got to do with time spent watching or not watching, but more to do with the way I was raised: lots of excursions, conversations, experiences and love. And TV, plenty of it!
So I’m going to try to make peace with the screens in our lives, and just kick back and be grateful for the relative peace it provides. Happy watching!