Don't let the television set become another parent!
It takes a lot of effort on our part as parents not to succumb into the abyss of the Disney Channel or Nickelodeon when we want our kids off our backs for half an hour.
I have a rule that no television is allowed during daytime hours, but there are weekend mornings when my kids wake up at 6 a.m. and I simply can't move. So instead, I give in, let the kids watch some TV, and head back to bed. Most days, though, I feel so guilty after 20 minutes, I simply decide, to hell with it all--let's just head outside. My friends call me crazy because they can often find me at the diner with my offspring before 8 a.m. on weekends. Immediately after, I head to the park. And guess what? It does beat seeing my kids go numb in front of the TV while the sun shines beautifully outside. But so many of us still give in to making the television set a replacement for strong parenting.
So for the last 50 years—or pretty much since television was invented--parents have been scolded for allowing their kids to become media-crazed consumers. As an example, just check out Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, which was written in 1964. In the book, Mike Teavee who was so into watching television that he literally gets sucked into the television and carried away by the Oompa Loompas, who sing a plea to parents: "So please, oh please, we beg, we pray / Go throw your TV set away!"
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I have to admit, however, that we do watch 60 minutes of TV at night. But in general, we have to be careful and really be diligent about keeping our children away from televisions, computers, iPods, gaming devices—everything that's so prevalent now. Experiencing the media together it's a good first step; although I am terrible at it (because I really do hate television!), research on "co-viewing" has shown that there's a positive impact that comes from parents participating in these media experiences with their children and then talking about it.
Mostly it is our duty to think creatively and help our kids reach higher planes intellectually and emotionally. My advice to other Moms is to slow down the introduction of media into the lives of very young children, because those electronic gadgets--in time--will sadly play a major role in their lives.
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Kids need to interact with real people, with objects and events. They need to play outside, run, and get physically exhausted. We have to teach them to enjoy reading in order to boost their desire to think and reason about the real world that awaits them. I know I might seem crazy waking up and running out the door before the sun is fully out, but it's my way of carving out quality time with my children to experience life in "the old ways."
Do you set any boundaries when it comes to your kids' TV habits? Do you have curfews? Tell us in the comments below!
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