Turning off the TV

parenting, Svara

When Svara was a baby she never watched TV.  We didn’t own any baby video DVDs.  Until she was 2 she almost never watched TV.  A home video here and there, that’s about it.  But when she turned two we started letting her watch a video here and there.  She loved Nemo.  She started to enjoy Mr. Rogers.  Eventually we added some Beatrix Potter videos to our “collection”.

When I was pregnant I read a book delving into the complex and controversial topic of whether kids should watch tv or not.  I wish I could remember the title of the book, it was quite good, but I cannot 😦  It was one that I borrowed from school.  Anyway, the findings in the book convinced me that especially for babies and toddlers, TV was not a good option.  That basically they MIGHT gain some knowledge from it, but it is not the knowledge they are ready for.  That the things our babies and toddlers need to be learning first are social and kinesthetic.  Climbing, jumping, talking, eye contact, sharing, feeling, touching, getting messy, etc. etc. etc.  These are the things our brains need to be wired to do first.  I wish I had the book so I could read it again and see what it says for older children, as I have kind of forgotten 😛   But basically it was a “for the most part anti-TV and videogame” sort of book.  I really liked it, though.

Then, as I said, Svara turned two.  As she started watching videos occasionally we (well, probably mostly I, but my husband as well) started relying on videos to help Svara calm down when she was upset.  To get her to easily eat her dinner.  To give her something to “do” while I did housework or did the cooking. I didn’t like it, but I didn’t know what else to do.

But it’s gotten to be too much.  Svara would not eat breakfast at the table, she only wanted to eat it in front of a video.  She would throw a tantrum if I said she couldn’t watch a video.   She wanted to watch a video when she started feeling upset, or when she wanted a snack. She wanted to watch a video if I was busy doing something and couldn’t play with her.  We were limiting her to 2 hours a day, less if possible, but it still seemed like way too much.

What did I do???

Something had to be fixed.  I tried telling Svara no movie in the morning, we had to eat our breakfast together at the table.  Occasionally it worked, often it ended in tantrums and she would then refuse to eat breakfast and be inconsolable.  Not a good start to the day.

So I decided that our TV was going to be “broken”.  I switched it off at the plug point so that the power light wasn’t on and in the morning when Svara asked to see a video I told her the tv was broken. She, of course, asked me to show her that it was broken, so I showed her how it couldn’t be turned on.  She was satisfied and ate breakfast at the table with me.

It’s been about a week and a half.  On two days I showed her one half hour video because of sheer exhaustion on my part, but other than that there has been no tv.

And it’s been good.  Svara has shown more initiative to play on her own. If I go into the kitchen to make supper she’ll sometimes take out the playdough and start playing, or find something else to amuse herself.  This doesn’t last long, but it’s a start. She has never been very good at playing by herself.

And she has stopped asking me whether the TV is broken. She’ll ask if she can watch a show and I’ll say no.  She’ll keep asking for awhile and tell me not to say no, but she’ll eventually accept it.

I don’t think I could get by without her ever watching TV.  There are days when there comes a time when I’m so tired I can’t amuse her and she’s so whiny she won’t amuse herself and it’s Mr. Rogers to the rescue.   But I’m going to use it less.  I’m going to do more art projects, more games, more role playing.

On an end note ,though I couldn’t find the book that I read, I did find this book on Amazon that looks great.



One thought on “Turning off the TV

  1. My 13-month old has yet to watch TV and I plan to let him do so after 3 years old. The reason is that young children cannot differentiate easily between reality and virtuality.

    I believe that babies and toddlers are ready to absorb information and they are superbly fast learners. Learning needs to be done with lots of human interaction and hands-on play.

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