OK, so why not kick off the book recap with the really FUN topic. TV.
The section of my book “Making the Terrible Two’s Terrific” that I’m talking about is actually called SHUT OFF THE TELEVISION.
- Watching tv is a “passivity” not an “activity”. The watcher is not only physically inactive, but MENTALLY inactive.
- Statistic: the AVERAGE preschooler watches 5,000 hours of tv before the age of 6. AND, that doesn’t count the hours watched before the child’s 2nd birthday (since the APA recommends NO tv before the age of 2).
- Break down: That’s 1/4 of a child’s discretionary time. Time that could otherwise be spent in meaningful physical or mental activity–the kind that promotes creativity, imagination and intelligence.
- TV is not an activity that involves any competency skill.
- Big Point: TV lends nothing of value to the life of a growing child. TV is a DEPRIVATIONAL EXPERIENCE.
- His recommendation: Do not expose your child to much or ANY tv until they have learned to read and can read well.
- Better things to do: Draw, build with blocks, read to your child (can start at 5 min. per day, but by age 3 should be no less than 30 minutes per day), talk to your child, DON’T buy lots of toys (this is a whole other entry coming next), PLAY with your child
He goes on to talk about how if we always use tv to pacify or “babysit” our children to keep them occupied or out of trouble, they actually never learn the level of creativity it takes to entertain yourself for a period of time. That’s what really got me.
Carter never watched a minute of tv (in my house, anyway) until he was 18 months old. He got really mobile and into everything and I felt like letting him watch some carefully chosen tv (Mr. Rogers, Sesame Street or Between the Lions) was reasonable while I cooked. My rationalization was that he could get hurt and that I simply couldn’t be there to watch his every move while I made dinner. Plus, to be honest, it was a nice, quiet break for me. I’ve completely stuck with the one tv show a day, but when I read that last statement it really rang true with me. If I keep using tv to keep him quiet, he’ll always need the tv on while I cook. He’ll never learn to do something else. So, I’m still struggling with the how. How does one go from this very convenient method of getting desired behavior to a completely different method? I think it’s going to be tough, really.
Great things that have come from shutting off the tv:
Not only is Carter limited to 30 minutes of tv per day, but in order to do this for him, we had to make the decision to do this for us as well. And, I’ll be honest, I love it and I haven’t missed it a bit! It’s quiet in my house (aside from my voice and Carter’s and occasional music being played) from the time he wakes up until he goes to bed. I have time for playing with him, reading to him, cleaning while he plays, Facebooking while he plays, going outside, going to the gym, reading and working. And, there’s just not that much going on on the tv that impacts my life. We turn on the tv after Carter goes to bed around 8:30 and Jeff usually watches some news program or I watch some cooking show. When the new Fall shows come back on, we’ll probably catch a few of them. But, from someone who grew up in a home with the tv on from sun up until sun down, I really didn’t think it was possible.
Another shocker–I have no intentions of letting my child zone out and check out on video games, either. He can learn eye-hand coordination and problem solving in LOTS of other ways. I prefer to keep his attention span and creativity in tact. Don’t even get me STARTED on video games and the waste of a good life that they are. Nuf said. I’m fully prepared to be unpopular about that one.
By no means to I intend to pressure anyone into “being like Mandi”. I’m just saying it’s worked for me, but I’m still hanging on a bit. What’s your view of tv for children? How do the points above strike you? Do you want to punch me?