Have you turned on the TV lately?

Have you sat down to watch TV with your children lately?

In our house, the TV isn’t on very much.  We have a little bit of TV time when we first get up because Mommy needs awhile to make her brain function normally as a chill way for the girls to start the day.  And then from Monday to Thursday we’re running around trying to get out of the house.  Mondays we have preschool, Tuesday to Thursday we have work.  Friday is our “free” day but quite often after a few shows, the TV goes off the kids start to play and then it’s house cleaning time.  I don’t count the weekends because they are usually so full of things going on the TV is only an after thought. Usually.

Once we’re home from school/work/everything else that needs to be done, the TV may come on for a half an hour while I make dinner but that’s about it.  We have a pretty strict rule around here about no TV after supper.  It’s the only time of day that the kids get to see Corey (when he’s done work in time) and so I don’t want it wasted, zoned out on some ridiculous show.   We also find that the girls sleep better when their evenings are filled with playing toys, reading books and hanging out – it actually dramatically reduces the nightmares that Bethany has.

So, it’s not like the TV is on all the time or like it’s something I pay much attention to.  We have VOD so quite often I’ll put on a pre-recorded Dora or Deigo or Mr.Maker for the girls to watch and then carry on with what I need to do.  Likewise, when we’re home long enough we’ll turn on Disney so the kids can see Mickey Mouse Clubhouse, Handy Manny (or if you’re Bethany “Mandy”) and the Imagination Movers.  Again, pretty safe stuff so I rarely watch.

We’re careful what movies the girls see (side note: If you haven’t seen “Tangled” the story of Rapunzel yet, go rent it.  It’s AWESOME!), I read up on the shows that are on, and I do my best to make sure they don’t watch anything with inappropriate language or behaviour.  It matters to me what goes in because I truly believe the old addage is true – “Garbage in, Garbage Out”

Which is why, the other day when I put on a movie we’d picked up for the kids that was rated for toddlers, I was so shocked when I heard a character call his brother “Stupid, Dumb” and the like.  It wasn’t one of those learning things, where those names were thrown around and then an adult repremanded then, no it was completely ignored, if not laughed at.

I was appalled.  Those aren’t fun or harmless words – they are words that are hurtful and cruel and demeaning (which is why I may or may not have used them when referring to a certain phone company I’ve been forced to deal with.  Double Standard?  Not really, in their case, totally true)

Then Disney was on last week and either before or after on of their shows there was the tail end of another program that again used language I would totally consider unkind and hurtful.  I understand it may have been directed at older children, but does it really matter?  I mean isn’t it kind of crazy to say it’s ok for a 10 year old to call his sister an idiot but not a 5 year old?

I know that kids throw mean words around all the time, especially at their siblings (heck I did it, and I grew up in a house where those words were punishable by cleaning something) but that doesn’t mean we need to encourage it.  Corey and I want to raise children who are respectful of others, who’s first thought is to be kind and who are disgusted by unkindness.  We want them to feel compassionate (like we did) when they see someone being bullied and to have the confidence to befriend and defend those kids. 

We DO NOT want to raise them to speak without thinking, to say things to be funny at the expense of others or to treat anyone with less respect than they, themselves would like to receive.

The thing is, I think that job is getting harder and harder as time wears on.

As a society manners are quickly floating out the window, apparently our television and musical standards are dropping and it seems we are becoming a society who feels they are entitled to things rather than they need to earn them.

I have so much to say on that last point I’m not even going there right now.  It’ll be another rant for another day, but I believe it’s true.

And these TV shows aren’t helping.

So, we screen them.  We forbid watching shows that promote unintelligence (read: Teletubbies and In the Night Garden), the Simpsons (what have you EVER learned that made you feel like a genius.  Beer facts do not count) and a few of the shows that have crossed our paths in the past few years.  I know I won’t always have control over what they watch, but for as long as I do I’m going to stand firm on what I believe in and protect my children as best as I know how.

Is it enough?  Probably not.  Paired with our best attempt at parenting will the results turn our how we’d like?  Here’s praying they will.  Does it leave me feeling frustrated?  Completely.

How about you?  Do you sensor or let your children decide?  Are you a TV friend or foe?  Do you think that what goes in, is a direct result of what comes out or not?

One thought on “Have you turned on the TV lately?

  1. Thi is actually an issue I have thought about a lot in teaching. More so in terms of books and topics in general, but what I have come to believe could be applied to television as well. The whole concept of censorship is very controversial. Do children benefit from having their world censored? To a degree I would say yes, childhood is a time of innocence and to have children frightened by shows with violence, sexuality and coarse language is unnecessary. At the same time I recognize that there will come a point in each childs' life where they will encounter these issues. Due to the latter fact I do believe that at some point later in childhood censorship does actually become detrimental to the child. People are not all good (unfortunately), or at least their behaviour is not. For that reason it would seem counterproductive to send a child out into the world with that expectation. By all means provide opportunities to teach each individual child that THEY should be kind, and giving and compassionate. But censoring their view of the world to the point where they expect that from all people is a terrifying thought for me. Unfortunately television is a reflection of society in general. As children get older I think it's important for them to realize what is really out there, while under the supervision of an adult who can explain things to them. I would personally rather have my child watch The Simpsons in my own home when I was present than at another childs' home where I was not. That being said I'm not talking about 5 year olds here, but I would caution against such extreme censorship with older children. I watched the Simpsons as a preteen, an believe me my mother always made it know how much she disapproved of the behaviour. And I don't believe it led me to be a mindless, hurtful person. If anything it made me aware that such behaviour does exist in society so I was better prepared to deal with it when I encountered it and my parents were not present. In the end it's a personal choice for all parents, but I think it's important that parents consider the possible pitfalls of censorship as well.

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