Sunday, May 13, 2012

Smart Info about the Idiot Box

I'll admit it: I love television. If you've been keeping an eye on this blog, you'll know that I have some great, silly shows I indulge in weekly. 30 Rock. The Office. Community. Parks and Rec. Bones. Burn Notice. Masterpiece Theater or Mystery... the viewing isn't always high-brow, and some nights I'll tune into Charlie Rose or Tavis Smiley or Bill Moyers, just to feel like my brain isn't rotting away on the sugared-up candy that is most television.   I watch tv to relax, but know I need to turn it off a while before going to bed for a truly good night's sleep. So come ten o'clock on most nights, hello good book: there's nothing better than reading myself to sleep...

That said, I rarely, rarely watch tv during the day. Occasionally home alone, I might indulge in a cooking show while I fold laundry. If Kiddo's home,  maybe a nature documentary. Sometimes, Joe might also 'indulge' in a Yankees game or watch a Trailblazers game on the weekends.

And Kiddo, sweet boy, really seems disinterested in television these days. Honestly, if I didn't offer him the "SuperWhy/Dinosaur Train" combo pack on Wednesday mornings, I'm not sure he'd even care. These days, he'll only watch the D-Train, and would rather play Sequence Junior anyway. 

I'm tempted, some days, to pop a video on, because he's talking at me incessantly, asking me every 'why' question in the book and treating me to a wealth of stories, which oftentimes aren't labeled as stories but told as matter-of-factly as any other daily happening. However, this really won't help him, because he's doing these other things as a way of connecting and growing, and it's my job to nurture, reflect that connection and help him re-conjugate his verbs while retelling his story back to him...

Today I was cruising around on Mama's On Call and happened across this gem of information about 'background tv' exposure.  Having media on in the background may not consume a child's visual interest, but it still interrupts mental tasks. Unlike older children, teens and adults, the brains of youngsters aren't capable of multitasking, and aren't able to attend to several discrete activities at once. And once again, there are concerns that the barrage of meaningless stimulus may interfere with language development. 

Of course, there will always be kids who excel no matter what their setting, but it's worthwhile to keep in mind this question: what sort of environment are we trying to create? Can you imagine going in to work with a television left on and trying to check email, have meaningful conversations with clients, learn a new skill or strategize or plan a project? I can't. However, this is exactly what babies and youngsters are doing...well, not the emailing, but you get my drift, right? They're trying to learn about their world, learn and attempt to communicate with their caregivers, learn how to manipulate objects and to make them do what they want them to do. They're at work!

Let's give our little ones a peaceful office space, so to speak. Some good music can keep us company. Turn the tv off when you are done checking in on the weather and traffic in the morning. Turn it off when they're done watching their show. Even our bigger kids need some peaceful moments--play is their work, and our homes are their workplace. A calm and friendly atmosphere makes for a more pleasant time for everyone.

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