Thursday, February 28, 2008

Born in the 21st Century

Aaron and I have taken great effort to make sure our kids will not become media obsessed. We don't have cable or satellite, just plain old rabbit ears. Until last August, we had no video game consoles or equipment of any kind. We thought we were doing well.

But we have failed. Both our children are total media addicts.

I really do try to stick to no more than 2 hours of TV a day, and all of it is educational PBS shows...Curious George (math & science...really. It's great), Clifford (social skills), Piggly Winks (or Jakers! It has taught Leah to ask: What did YOU do when you were little? Which is completely charming.)

And I read an article (here) that said that educational tv has no impact on kids' attention spans. So that's good. I feel better about that extra half hour or so that I resort to once in awhile.

But seriously. Leah is obsessed with Ruff Ruffman (or Fetch! as the network calls it.) She has figured out delayed gratification, so she'll watch one show with Ben after his nap, then wait and hour and a half until Ruff is on. And if she's not adequately entertained, this is what I hear for that 90 minute period:

"Is Ruff on?"
"Is it time for Ruff yet?"
"Is Ruff on yet?"

Did I say 90 minutes? BECAUSE IT FEELS LIKE 90 HOURS.

And just because Ben doesn't talk yet, don't think he doesn't have his own issues. The boy LOVES the Wii. It probably doesn't help that we use the projector screen for it, so the characters are as big as he is. And there's lots of colors, and's perfectly mesmerizing.

Everytime we go downstairs, he grabs a Wii remote (I TRY to keep them in drawers...) and points and grunts at the console and then the screen. He usually does pretty well if I just say, "No, we're not playing right now," and do something else. But those remotes are practically his loveies.

Have I mentioned that he's almost saying "Dora"? The rare time they watch a video, he practically levitates he's so excited. I REALLY don't want his first word to be cartoon character.

I'm pretty sure Leah learned her ABC's from Sesame Street, so I'm not worried about the content. But I sure feel like a slacker when I hear some moms say their kids watch one show, or none...

They are good kids, and they will also sit and read books, or play "imaginative play" for long periods of time, too, so I won't get too worried. It's just part of living in the 21st Century, I guess.

Now, HOW long until new The Office episodes?


mama.nichols4 said...

It's so hard to set limits with kids, of any kind. Alex is horrible about tv. If I allow him to turn it on, I have to warn him at least half way through the show that he'll be done watching, otherwise a HUGE meltdown is a guarantee. We don't have a set routine for tv watching since our schedule seems to vary too much, but if I flip the tv on, even on HGTV or some other mom show, he'll zone in completely.

I often wonder if he's been too limited that he can't break the trance. That sounds crazy, but I've thought about it.

When Serenity was little, she loved tv as well, even though we limited her watching. We did the PBS only thing with her and I honestly believe it was to her benefit. Now she could sit and watch tv for hours on end, totally losing herself in it. She has so little time for playing or anything enjoyable, let alone mind-numbing tv, so it's hard to limit her watching on the weekends.

Isaac has started showing interest in tv within the last week or so. Up until now, he was the annoying kid that turned the tv off right in the middle of the show. (Serenity was notorious for that, ugg!) Recently though, he's the one that ends up stopping Alex in his tracks by turning the tv on! What a combo, hehe.

I remember as a kid watching a lot of tv but also spending every summer day outside. So, I think it all comes down to keeping the kids on a healthy balanced schedule. And I know from my own tv withdrawals lately, it's hard to break the tv habit. We as parents can't expect kids to not be impacted by a change in their tv watching schedules either, even though we would like to think they don't have a habit.

Noel said...

Born in the 20th century...

* Used imagination to fill in the colors on a black & white TV.

* Had to share a single TV with the whole family until age 9, when we got our second set.

* Felt fortunate to have 5 stations to choose from.

* Had only 3 educational kids shows to wait for: Romper Room, Captain Kangaroo, and TV Kindergarten.

* Had to wait while vacuum tubes warmed up or until the TV repair man came to replace them when they went bad (in my later teen years I fixed them myself).

* Built futuristic cities out of Erector Sets and Legos in the livingroom while watching Star Trek (some things don't change ;-).

Some day Ben and Leah will refer to their growing up as the "Olden days"...

nydampress said...

Well just like everything else, things are best in moderation.
As long as they don't ever watch Bratz I am sure they will turn out just fine.

You know sometimes I watch that "Fetch" show too. Wait a minute, does this mean Leah will soon be speaking in a thick Boston accent (like all the kids on the show?!).
That would be wicked cool :)

Aaron said...

In defense of public broadcasting:

Square 1 TV is where I first learned about integer addition, the fibbonacci sequence, prime numbers, and mathematical functions.

They should really put that show on more often.

Sonya said...

I grew up in a household with just a little black and white tv that we were allowed to watch only on Saturdays when we dragged it out of the closet. I've always resented my parents for not exposing my siblings and I to more TV, more media. I was in the dark re: The Wonder Years and MTV. I couldn't participate in conversations with my classmates because all they talked about was media.