For young people, there’s a lot to be said for the amount of time they should spend watching television. The frequent reminder that our children shouldn’t watch television is a source of frustration for us as parents. The dangers of attention deficit disorder, general disobedience and a host of other dire repercussions are always being talked about. Although I don’t completely disagree, I feel that this subject needs to be deepened.
I am the mother of a two year old boy. I give you permission to view certain television programs and/or videos. Does television replace my presence or do I use some other method to replace my absence? Never. That’s why I’ve chosen these programs carefully, making sure the content they show is consistent with the lessons I want my child to learn. As a reinforcement of the skills and teachings I am currently teaching him, I use television programs to reinforce these concepts. I also watch his videos with him to help him clarify or repeat terms when needed. Allow me to give you an example.
Since my son gained the dexterity of being able to point to the various parts of his body, my husband and I have been practicing the phrases that correlate to those points on his body so he can learn them. These are the words we repeat over and over and over again. Likewise, we use children’s books to spread these similar concepts. Add in some videos of kids singing “Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes,” and you have a youngster who understands how to put all those visuals and phrases together in his head.
I’m not claiming that watching the movie was the most important factor in my son learning these phrases. Children, like adults, learn in many different ways, as I said above. Why not expose them to the world around them through a variety of different types of media and activities? I believe that a mix of reading materials (books), pretend play, music and the appropriate television programs can help young people learn more than one of these ways on their own.
I also think that children learn by watching and imitating their peers. If you still don’t believe me, spend a few hours one day at your local preschool and just watch what happens. You’d be surprised how often children (and especially young children) copy each other. In my son’s case, he is still an only child at this point. I make every effort to encourage you to participate in playgroups, dance classes, and any other socializing activities I can organize.
When he is in the company of other children, I see a greater desire on his part to want to talk to the other children – perhaps even more than his desire to want to interact with me! Although this is the case, he still prefers to spend most of his time alone rather than with other young people. The kids and I have a collection of DVDs (and watching specific television shows) that feature young people their age or slightly older. He is able to see how these young people engage, talk, dance, sing and even demonstrate their excellent manners. The social skills that my son developed at home and in play were strengthened as a result of participating in these sessions.
This debate is not about whether television per se is harmful and should be kept as far away from children as possible; rather, it’s about how to frame the debate. Ultimately, it comes down to what the children are watching, how the programs contribute to the overall learning curriculum (are they the sole source or are they a complement to many other resources?), and the importance of the child’s caregiver being present. to interact with while watching the show. I actively participate by watching television programs with my son so that we can learn and have fun together.
While acknowledging that everyone has their own opinions about watching television and that I am not an expert, it has worked for my family, and I hope that by sharing my experience you can learn a little from it. also. Good luck in your parenting endeavors!