When my daughter was born, 10 years ago, my wife and I talked intentionally about what exposure we did and didn’t want her to have to TV. In the first two or three years, we didn’t really let her watch it at all. After that, we decided we would let our kids watch to a limited degree on the weekends, but not on week days. It’s now been 10 years in our house of limited TV.
Yesterday, after their sports camps, my kids spent a good part of the day reading. At one point, my wife caught them arguing over who owned which book and got to read it next.
For all the damage done through my parenting foibles (we’re starting one fund for college, one for therapy), this may be one of the best decisions we ever made. And I have to admit, it was my wife’s idea. To this day, the kids usually don’t even ask to watch during the week, because they know our family’s habit – no TV, video, or internet during the week.
If you’ve got a young one in the family, or if you’re a grandparent or uncle or aunt who can be a part of the conversation, staving off video addiction may be the healthiest thing you can do for your kids.
- Most programming isn’t of any educational or moral value in the first place
- Most programming isn’t even that entertaining
- The brain’s adaptive ability, “neuroplasticity,” will condition your kids to have sudden, jerky attention spans if that is the input they get for hours each day
- Time spent reading is going to better prepare them for school
- Time spent playing with other kids is going to better prepare them for relationships
- Time spent in exercise will make them healthier, which will in turn make them happier
It’s neither too soon nor too late to start. And giving in to a child’s tantrum to get them to stop is nowhere near as rewarding as having your child in their adult years thank you for being a good parent.
See: “Media and Children,” the American Academy of Pediatrics, http://www.aap.org/en-us/advocacy-and-policy/aap-health-initiatives/Pages/Media-and-Children.aspx