TV as the Babysitter: Are we Stifling our Children's Creativity?
My 8-year-old daughter recently came back from a play date and happened to mention that she and her friend spent time watching television.
"Oh that's nice. Glad you girls had fun. Wait - what did you do?"
Why on earth would the TV need to be on during a 2 hour play date?! That is such a cop out. Now a day long play date where you drop your child and say to the other mother, "Oh bless your heart for taking my kid. If I don't get my highlights done, a bikini wax and a little shopping therapy, my brain is going to explode. I'll see you in six hours! You are my hero!!" - a little TV would be completely acceptable. But a few hours? I don't think so.
And I've started to notice that television is everywhere.
I bring my girls to the hairdresser. They turn on Nick Jr. for them. (As if a 6-year-old and 8-year-old can't get a haircut without staring like zombies at Dora.) It's on at the doctor's offices. It's on when we grab a bagel at the deli. Parents throw on the DVD player for 10 minute drives across town. When families get together on Sunday afternoons, a kids' show is playing on some TV somewhere in the house. It's even on at school. Yes, at school.
Apparently, on rainy and cold days, sometimes the students watch TV shows during recess.
Because it would be so much better if they spent that time doing yoga, playing board games, doing art, making music, reading, singing, laughing, talking, drawing, throwing a ball, being creative or smoking. Okay, not smoking. Just making sure you're still with me.
I put limits on television in my house. In general, my children can watch a half hour on week nights and an hour on weekend days. And it's not like I'm usually sitting there with them, fretting over the plot. I let them enjoy their show while I clean up the kitchen, send a few emails or just take a breather from the noise and chaos of having four young kids.
I want to be in charge of what my kids watch and when they watch it. Not the hairdresser. Or their school. Or anyone else.
Usually, my children embark on the most creative projects just a few minutes after barking that grating child mantra, "I'm SO BORED." I usually answer back, "Well, then let's start throwing away stuff in your playroom if there is nothing to do in there." That is followed by cries of, "Noooooooo!" and then they are suddenly not bored at all.
As parents, it's time for us to unplug our children a bit. They will be as creative as we allow them to be. Yes, TV keeps kids quiet and docile. But is that really what you want? The quietest, most docile kid on the block? I'll take the most creative kid every time.