Nowadays it seems there’s a lot of programming on TV that’s inappropriate for kids, and which affects them negatively. Many kids spend more hours watching the television than they do at school. Some people seem to think that raising their kids without television is the answer.
As terrible as it may seem, I don’t think it’s possible for me to raise my children without television. Perhaps if we lived in a perfect world, where I did not have to work constantly to find ways to save money and to make money just to survive, perhaps then I could afford to deprive my children of television, and suffer the necessary repercussions. But we don’t live in a perfect world.
I cope with my children’s demand for TV by offering them choices. Firstly, we don’t have cable or satellite TV, for example. I can’t afford it, but even if I could, I’m not sure that I would get it. It would be nice to have some movies to watch every now and then, and to have better reception, but the fact remains that stations like Cartoon Network and Nickelodeon have programming which hyperstimulates children, and which is often violent and which has content which is inappropriate for children. Which is strange in a channel which claims to be appropriate for children.
Secondly, I strongly encourage my children to watch PBS. PBS is a wonderful way to avoid all the violence and other inappropriate material which is beginning to abound on the other networks. I can’t completely stop them from watching Kids WB, but I can reduce the frequency. They watch it primarily on the weekend, and PBS dominates their viewing during the week.
Thirdly, I provide a library of tapes and DVDs which contain material which I have approved for their viewing.
Last but not least, I try to provide the kids with stimulating activities that actually get them out from in front of the television. On the weekends my husband and I take them out for outings. We take them on nature hikes at the Arboretum, and bike riding in the park.
I don’t believe I could prevent them from watching television without physically removing the television from the house. You don’t know my kids. I realize that most children are not as strong-willed as mine, but the fact remains that they will disregard my every instruction, go back to the television, turn it on, resurrect the antenna, reconnect the cables, get out the tapes, the DVDs, whatever it takes to fuel their addiction. Worse, if I did physically remove the television or any of its requisite parts from the room, my boys would immediately begin to fight with each other over nothing. And I simply don’t have the time or the energy to be a referree.
Anyhow, I really don’t think that it’s television itself which is the problem. It’s specific types of television. Television which is overstimulating, violent, or which has suggestive content has a negative effect on our children. On the other hand, television which is educational in its content has a beneficial effect. It’s essentially the same thing as the child taking an extracurricular telecourse. I couldn’t make my kids take another class, after a long day at school being repressed by the teacher and made to do work that they don’t like and don’t want to do. However, they’re overjoyed to watch educational programming such as Cyberchase, Fetch! with Ruff Ruff Man, Arthur, and Dragon Tales.
So, kicking in the TV screen and sending it to the landfill isn’t the solution. Ultimately, we have to exercise control on our children’s viewing choices.