Reading Mom's post about the TV/autism study reminded me of my own recent negative TV experience.

On Friday at care group, Jonathan inadvertantly went to the babysitting before we wanted him to, and they ended up seeing several kids' shows on video. Much of his conversation all weekend was how Thomas (the tank engine) was sad because he was in a hurry. Soot-su and the other friends of his own imagination were forgotten in favor of commercial characters and their dubious activities. Don't tell me it's harmless because it's a children's show. The stories are at best lame and at worst teaching values that are not congruent with ours. Jonathan is not old enough yet to be able to discuss with us things he sees that we have not also seen.

I was saddened when I heard one person say, "The kids are all set, they're watching a video" because I wanted Jonathan (and the other kids) to really play, not just be zombies. But I am even more convinced that I don't want him watching this stuff now that I see how it affected his conversation and behavior. Even before the childcare, Bob the Builder was on downstairs when we arrived early and Jonathan just lounged on the couch, chewing his thumb, staring fixedly. Usually he would be exploring the environment, making conversation with anyone who will listen.

In the future, Jonathan will be staying with us at care group just as he stays with us at church.
Posted by Heather Daley on October 24, 2006, 4:07 pm | Read 6426 times
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Keep the faith, baby! (Definitely revealing my age there....)
Posted by SursumCorda on October 24, 2006, 5:09 pm

YAY for anti-television biases!!!
Posted by Mike Q on October 24, 2006, 10:10 pm

It's so hard. Just plain hard. Television is everywhere--even in church nurseries--and the assumption, for most people, is that childrens' programming is fine for children, in uncontrolled amounts. It really disturbs me to hear parents boast about how much their children learn from such-and-such program, or how they *need* the DVD time to get dinner cooked. We generally keep our children with us during church, as well. Whenever our kids have watched something on television, they just sit and stare. It's sad, and almost bizarre. Ellery doesn't sit and stare all day, except for last week when I had to calm a hysterical child I was watching by popping in a DVD her mother supplied. I was shocked that Ellery sat still, like a zombie, for 70 minutes. Every time I turned off the program to see what happened, my kids popped up and resumed playing while the other child just resumed her screaming. I was totally boxed in, and I will never do it again! And this long comment is brought to you by television-frustrated Serina. Thankyouverymuch.
Posted by serina on October 24, 2006, 11:32 pm

Hey, that last post had paragraphs when I typed it. Can I use HTML here? Let's try.

Did it work?
Posted by serina on October 24, 2006, 11:33 pm

There's a suggestion for LifeType, Jon. So many people are accustomed (by experience with the hand-holding blogs) to having their comments formatted as they type them (at least the paragraph spacing) that the time may have come for that to be a useful plug-in. (Or maybe it's already there and I just haven't added that feature....)
Posted by SursumCorda on October 25, 2006, 6:55 am

I agree with Serina. When we were at the church-nursery stage (some things we didn't learn to avoid till later), TV was not yet a problem there. But even then I was driven crazy at children's choir weekends, those otherwise good and useful events at which movies were always shown to "help the kids settle down and fall asleep."

We watched movies very rarely at home; they were special family events, and I would plan a night for the latest Disney movie, say, only to be told, "We already saw that one at school." (Well, that had a bright side. We then concentrated our attention on things like Gilbert and Sullivan operettas, which never darkend the door of the school. You haven't lived until you've heard your tiny kids quoting lines from The Pirates of Penzance to each other.)

What annoys me most these days is TV in waiting rooms everywhere: the doctor's office, the airport, the oil-change place (that's one thing saved now that Porter is changing the oil himself again!). I can avoid the visual distraction by keeping my eyes on my book, but it's so hard to read anything of any importance with the unavoidable audio blasting.
Posted by SursumCorda on October 25, 2006, 7:10 am

By the way, Soot-su came back by Tuesday.

I remember those choir sleepovers. I never got enough sleep because the movie always kept me awake instead of settling me. I seem to remember they would put in more than one, and I would eventually fall asleep just because I was so tired.

Speaking of TVs in waiting rooms - our worst experience with that was last year when Jon was in the emergency room with meningitis, so sensitive to light and noise, and the one guy was so offended that we wanted it off.
Posted by joyful on October 25, 2006, 8:39 am

I was shocked that Ellery sat still, like a zombie, for 70 minutes.

That's why Marie Winn called TV The Plug-In Drug. And why it's SUCH a temptation for frazzled moms. In a way, it's a reflection of the pharmaceuticalization of our culture. (I knew the 60's would come back to haunt us. The zoned-out hippies are now working in legitimate drug companies, still seeking chemical answers to life's problems. But I digress.) Why take the time and effort to help your children learn to entertain themselves when a TV can buy you all the time you want? (Add a DVD player and you can assuage your conscience by playing only "good" shows.)

The benefits of (and to) a self-entertaining child are enormous and long-term, but this is delayed gratification at its hardest, VERY difficult for busy, harried parents to stick with when there's a handy, easy, socially acceptable alternative that provides instant results. And for a woman who's struggling to be a good mother while holding down a full-time job...well, I digress again. But my heart certainly goes out to parents these days.
Posted by SursumCorda on October 25, 2006, 9:02 am

Yeah, most people who run lifetype have it on, I believe it is on by default. I forget why I turned it off...
Posted by Jon Daley on October 25, 2006, 12:29 pm

Don't forget televisions in restaurants, even non-bar-type ones. Another reason not to eat out, I suppose.
I feel as thought I'm always the one who is asking a nursery worker, receptionist at the doctor, or even Sunday school teacher to please not pop in a video. I suppose that when one is providing a service, such as watching my child, then I'm not supposed to complain. But I have research and common sense on my side, and if I never speak up and assert my standards, then television and media just becomes more normal.
The older I get, the less I mind being weird.
Posted by serina on October 25, 2006, 10:26 pm

The older I get, the less I mind being weird. Ain't it the truth! So now you know my secret. :)

Ya know, it used to be that those who provided services believed the customer was always right. Now we as customers fear demanding even reasonable service. "Watching my child" should mean caring for him. Child care is not a valet parking service.
Posted by SursumCorda on October 26, 2006, 6:35 am

That's another thing about the night this post was mostly about - I felt like my parental authority was being undermined. I'm sure that's not really a goal of our church!

By the way, I'll add a positive in here. A few parents at the women's Bible study at Ascension have asked that the sitters not put in videos. They respect that and I really really appreciate it.
Posted by joyful on October 26, 2006, 9:06 am

I'm glad we don't have a TV because I know I would be tempted to turn it on. Sometimes I feel like I need a break and that seems like it would be a good solution, except that I know it's not good for the kids. We do have a few carefully selected videos, Muzzy and Boz, but we try not to watch them too much. As for the nursery situation, I was shocked the first time Hannah came back talking about Thomas the Train. While I can understand why parents plunk their kids in front of the TV (to get a break after being with the kids ALL day, to get other things done, etc.), I see no reason for videos to be shown during church events. Kids are there for no more than two hours and the childcare workers have nothing else to do except entertain our kids at that time. Sometimes they're even paid to do it! And there are other kids there to play with and lots of toys. All this is to say that we shouldn't feel bad asking the childcare workers to not show videos. I'm talking to myself here as well. :)
Posted by Kelly on October 26, 2006, 11:06 am

That's cool that you have Muzzy, Kelly. Which language?
Posted by SursumCorda on October 26, 2006, 1:25 pm

Mandarin Chinese.
Posted by Kelly on October 26, 2006, 2:36 pm
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