Photo Credit: imagerymajestic
In the last post, I gave a summary of how to choose education products for children, especially young babies to early toddlerhood. Whether we like it or not, entertainment has a big role to play in educating our children. Everytime we plop our child in front of the screen (TV, computer, iPad or iPhone), it is substituting us as the role of a parent as much as it entertains. It occupies and teaches, fusing neurons in their tiny brains as they interact with the media device.
If you were careful to select what your child watches, you are doing great! Take the next step to also be careful about how you select media and entertainment for yourself. This is because we don’t want to be hypocrites and eventually the child would feel injustice that you are watching what you don’t allow him to watch. I believe this is one of the greatest pitfall you can avoid. Children emulate parents, and if they see that their parents do not have a taste for TV programs, they wouldn’t be a couch potato. Encourage them to play and interact instead. If they are older and insist on some shows, be patient to explain why we do not let them watch certain shows. Just like we do not want them to eat rubbish and get sick, we also do not want them to watch rubbish and be sick in the mind. They will stop asking if you are firm.
Take note that it is not suitable for young children to watch news. Since news often are bad ones, they might form a warped world view (that there is always something wrong in this world) or become fearful. Also, try not to let them passively watch the TV, which means that they play while TV is on. Several reasons:
- the commercials whet desires;
- fast moving images make them disinterested with videos that clear and simple, they are highly educational but usually more boring,
- similar to the above point, they will eventually prefer videos over books or even outdoor play,
- a distraction subconsciously; it impedes their ability to concentrate.
- exposure to inappropriate images and speech.
- I also prefer that children develop a desire for peace and quietness for a tranquil spirit and I think it would be very helpful to have the TV off.
Cartoon or children channels are not recommended since they provide mainly entertainment value and little else. Even if it is good, they do not repeat, unless you take the effort to record them. Memory and learning is enhanced through repetition. Buy the videos instead and you can have control over the time and duration. No need to fight to off the TV. Besides, we can also avoid a horror story of sexually explicit videos accidentally aired on the the children channel (It happened in the US, it was in the news… –_-“‘).
Here’s my take on TV for your family: It is not too late to start switching off the TV and on only when the kids sleep. I think you’d do better if you throw it away. Most videos can be found on the internet anyway, if you ever need to watch anything. You’d probably find later that you don’t NEED to watch anything at all, but because the TV is there, you’d just watch and watch. Remember that whatever time spent on TV, it is taking time off something else more meaningful or of greater value, that you could have done. Let us be good stewards of our time for we are accountable to God at the end of the day.
In our home, we do not have a TV. We do have a computer though, and we are also in the temptation of letting the child too many you-tube videos. (We’re not perfect, we struggle just like any other parents) I own quite a lot of education videos as well and I’m not saying the kid should not watch TV at all. However, as mentioned in my previous post, I am VERY SELECTIVE and make sure that they do not get hooked on entertainment that gets increasingly insatiable. Videos are so very helpful when I need a break or when I need to do things in peace. I am so grateful for this invention. The screen is NOT a bad thing in itself. We just need to be very selective. Try to vet any program before you show your child. If possible, sit through the first time so that you can ask questions about the show after he finishes watching it in the future. Besides, you’d nap in peace if you’re really tired while he watches this video which you know exactly what is shown in it. Therefore it is good to keep selection small and slowly grow it as your child grows.
All that said, we don’t have to be dogmatic about everything. If your kid already missed the window, it is okay. If he is only watching Ben 10 and Barbie princess cartoons, you can slowly cut it down and introduce better ones. If we go to other people’s home that have TV on or other cartoons are on, please don’t damage relationships over it. The children will not become violent after watching 1 show (although sometimes the things they see will stay put in their brains far longer than we’d like) nor will they become crazy character worshippers. It is Okay to let them watch a cartoon movie once in a while if you need a break or when you need to speak with other people and do things. Just limit them. Your influence and love will be greater because you are the parent. Persistence will pay off.
Here’s my challenge to you: Not only should you select good educational programs for your child, be careful about selecting entertainment and shows for yourself. Most likely, you don’t need the TV at all. So, let me know, if you successfully throw away your TV. =)