By BoLOHLONE payday loans
Four years ago when Lou was born I kept watching TV like I did before I had babies. I didn’t game, however, unless she was sleeping. You can’t game with a baby in your arms (ok, I know some of you have done this!) As Lou got older she began noticing the TV. She even seemed excited when Conan O Brian’s music began to play. I realized I had to stop watching anything while she was awake. So I adapted. TV joined the computer for night time or naps.
Two years later I had Ero. Lou was 2. I had no car. We lived in the suburbs. It was a long hard winter. I was getting woken up every hour to nurse. We had no family near, no close friends. I felt like a mom after the apocalypse. We watched a lot of Little Bear and the Sound of Music (first half only) back then. At some point, when Ero was about 6 months I changed it all. I felt like I had a grasp on parenting two little ones and I was uncomfortable with how much TV Lou got. I didn’t like how she would ask to watch a show every day, or how engrossing it was.
Now here’s where I differ from most news articles. I took the middle road of moderation which doesn’t make it into print much. I didn’t throw out our TV and I didn’t rejoice in my bad-mom-ness and drink a martini. We limited TV to one movie (or two 30 minute shows) a week. We also watch the occasional Nova with the whole family or dork around with a video game once in a while. Sometimes we break out a home video. All in all we get about 4 hours of media interaction a week. They don’t get our smart phones when we drive, etc… I’m comfortable with that amount, and nothing more. If you are comfortable with your media situation read no further, but if you are not, here’s what I did and why I did it.
Sometimes as a tired, worn out parent I would forget how strong I was. But I reminded myself that I am the Mom. I am powerful. I’ve been through so much crap in my life, I can handle creating a consistent and respectful environment for my kids. I wager any parent has been through hard battles and can summon enough strength to deal with the media cravings of a child.
Neilsen says “Preschoolers aged 2 to 5 spend an average of more than 32 hours in front of a TV screen each week.” A full time job of watching TV.
That was not ok for us. However, there are exceptions. Hard days when everyone is sick, the hard months after my second child. But when everything is on track and life is moving along at a normal pace it’s 4 hours a week. The transition wasn’t bad. Lou complained off and on for 3 days and then she adapted. As my cousin puts it, if there is any complaining about TV there will be no TV for the small amount it is allowed.
Now before I go into why I curtail media use, I should mention how much I like media. I’m a gamer, I watch timeshifted shows on my Wii Netflix, I have a smart phone, and I love the internet. I know my kids will too, when they are older. While they are young I limit their use because I think it affects neuroplasticity, creativity and reality.
So some things have figured out how to release dopamine in our heads and get the same reaction that survival things do. I want my kids to have a good base of dopamine reactions to “need” things when they are little instead of “want” things.
Educational video games and apps are mostly the same, a bunch of primary colored crap with happy noises and letters claiming to teach kids something. But there are a few out there that truly are tools for learning. For example the Audubon has an app that helps you identify flowers in the wild, and I’m sure museums have apps that help educate you as you walk through. I am not talking about these. When the tech becomes a tool to aid a teacher/parent it is great. Imagine going out and collecting a few bugs, then bringing them back and looking them up on the computer. This tech use is part of the experience, not the experience itself. Their brain is reacting to a real flower, a sculpture or a bug. Not sparkles on a game with a bell sound and a “good job!” from some pretend character.
All of my kids’ close friends watch more TV than we do, and they are all bright and wonderful. I don’t think there will be a point in the future where I snobbishly say “That’s why I didn’t let my kids stare at a screen all day!” I think it’s subtle. Maybe my kids will have a higher attention span and realistic expectations on relationships. I have no idea. But I won’t look back and regret this amount of media. Any more and I might.
Note: This is part of a dueling post with my friend, Ricki. She lets her daughter use a lot of tech and watch a lot of TV. I have to admit it’s pretty cute how she knows the words to every Disney song ever and Glee songs I’ve never heard of. I will post a link when she puts it up on her site later this week.
Growing up Digital – “Finding Huck Finn: Reclaiming Childhood from the River of Electronic Screens.” Note: One study they cite (yet don’t link) was with 11 kids. That’s not enough. It was the one that had kids do an hour of tv or an hour of gaming each day after doing vocabulary.
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