Scary stories from a lovely place

To TV or not to TV

Last night I didn’t turn on the TV after Silas had gone to bed. Instead, I started to read an amazing book called ‘Buy, Buy Baby’ which I may write about in the near future (depends if I watch TV tonight). Stephen was busy wrestling the Little Deer into bed, but when he was done, he also did some reading. It was peaceful and advertisement-free.

We are pondering at the moment whether or not we should buy a TV when we move out of my parents house. I have flip flopped as much as John Howard did while he was Australia’s prime minister. At first I thought, yes definitely, we must have a TV. Or at least the ability for Silas to watch DVD’s. Then, after a few months here in Australia the joy/evils of TV were deeply sewn into my psyche. Like channel Eleven! It’s amazing, full of MacGyver, Family Ties and Futurama.

But I’m anti lounge rooms being constructed around the television. Lounge rooms should be for drinking tea and eating cake, socialising, playing with blocks and reading books. So then I thought we could get a TV but keep it in our bedroom, so that it wasn’t occupying the social space. But the idea of sharing a bed with Bender and Fry isn’t as appealing as with Stephen.

I used to watch a fair bit of TV, but it was probably less than average. Then when I moved to South Africa I never got into their TV. The ads were weird, the Soapies were multi-lingual, Bold and the Beautiful was years behind and I never knew when anything was on. I gave up. A lack of TV for 4 years has meant that I am well and truly out of the loop when it comes to popular culture. I have no idea who won awards at the Oscars for the last few years. Before I went to Jozi, I think I could have named a few. I kept up with the news on the internet and I read a lot of books.

During our second year of marriage Stephen started getting home from work at 4 instead of 6pm. In the lead up to Silas’ birth we had a lovely time together. We played a lot of scrabble, made tzatziki and drank G&T’s every afternoon. I remember it being a wonderfully foundational time for our relationship before the babies took over. I don’t think we would have spent that much time together if we had owned a TV.

The book I mentioned is exploring the way a baby’s brain develops in their first 3 years of life; that it is vastly different and special from any other time. The author started by decrying the influence of television, and particularly programs that are supposed to make a baby ‘smart’ or have an educational quality. She claims that this kind of stimulation is actually harmful for an infant. She quotes some scary statistics, one that “by the age of 6 the average British child will have spent one full year in front of the television”.

Silas is pretty committed to the tele at the moment. He only watches DVD’s, so at least the advertisement aspect is removed. I’ve been feeling guilty about how I use it to keep him occupied while I do other, not always altruistic, stuff (like in this moment. Sometimes when he is really upset Colin Buchanan or Play School is the best way to comfort him. That makes me feel really sad.

I used to think kids who grew up with no TV must have been so weird. But Stephen did and he’s turned out pretty well. So I’m still flip flopping on the TV thing. I don’t think it’s all together evil, though elements of it certainly are. But ‘Buy Buy Baby’ is really challenging me. Hopefully I will have decided by the time it comes to buying a TV, or not.


14 comments on “To TV or not to TV

  1. Jenn
    February 21, 2012

    I know how you feel! My tv is so big and my lounge room is so small I feel like everything in our lives is about tv and it makes me sad. I’ve been trying to be disciplined and turn off the tv when my Bub is awake, but some days I fail miserably! And, he’s also recently discovered Colin, too, and I’ve found it to be the only thing that keeps him still now that he can crawl! I’d love to live without a tv in my lounge room, but in the meantime, I’m going to work on my discipline to keep it turned off!!

    I’m interested in that book you mentioned and would love to read your review of it!

    • kimlovesjozi
      February 21, 2012

      Hey Jenn, I deleted a paragraph where I teased people who have a massive screen and a tiny living room! I worried about offending people, which I have now done 🙂

  2. Lou Davies
    February 21, 2012

    Hey Kim, my thoughts are no TV, and just use your laptop as a DVD player. Then you can get it out when you want, where you want, and it’s not there tempting you to turn it on all the time. Music is often a good distraction with kids, colin being a favourite, or stories on CD. Blowing bubbles is another way to settle kids down. (although I don’t have any kids of my own, this seemed to work when I worked in child are with 10 0-2yr olds)
    Whilst I’ve been at college I haven’t watch much TV at all. We have a TV in our corridor, but it’s never really used. I mainly use my lap top to watch a movie every now and then. As for keeping up with world news, I read the paper, or look online, they seem to keep me up to date most of the time.

    • kimlovesjozi
      February 21, 2012

      Hey Lou,
      My worry with the dvd is Silas’ obsession with the keyboard. We could put it up out of reach, but the frustration may be too much for him? Or we’ve considered buying a screen to plug the laptop into which could then be out of reach. I tried the music today but it was Colin songs that Silas knows so he seemed confused. But I think I’ll persist with that.

      You are totally experienced enough without having kids to comment! (Weren’t you present at a birth? That is a cool story!)

      It is nice hey, not watching tv.

  3. Tim
    February 21, 2012

    Since Book Depository doesn’t have B.B.B. in stock, I’ll put in a plug for booko (Australian book price comparison site)

    and Better World Books (new and used books, profits go to worldwide literacy initiatives)

    • kimlovesjozi
      February 21, 2012

      Hey Tim. It is in stock, but a newer edition than your copy. Thanks for the link for Better World Books, sounds great. Have you used it?

      • Tim
        February 21, 2012

        Yup, better world books is my first point of call for book buying now. I’ve bought lots of stuff from them, and from their partners, never had any issues.

  4. mythreeringedcircus
    February 21, 2012

    I think the TV issue is like so many in parenting – it is up to us to find, and model/teach, the balance.

    I definitely agree with you about loungerooms not being designed and oriented around TVs. Our old one was and it lacked soul. It was all about the TV. I like in our current house that the TV is downstairs and away from the main living areas. It means that the TV is not on as a matter of course, and watching TV requires an excursion. The kids need to ask permission and we don’t fall into the habits of letting them watch it so often. They really do watch significantly less TV – both actively and passively. It will be a challenge for us to design not only our new house and room use but also how we continue to enforce healthy habits about TV and other screens. We don’t always succeed, but we try.

    It’s interesting that Stephen turned out so OK after not having TV as a child. I’ve always thought the same. I kind of think that I want my kids to understand the world that they live in – the good and the bad, and I think TV and movies can play a role in that. But of course, it’s not the only way, and not the substitute from what we need to teach them.

    So I guess I am a proponent for balance. I’m not sure we always get the balance right. But we do try.

  5. mythreeringedcircus
    February 21, 2012

    Sorry for repeating myself, I’m a little tired.

  6. Bec
    February 21, 2012

    I’ve put in a rule that the tv doesn’t go on till 6pm. So I don’t just end up watching tv all day as well as Mahalath. It’s quite scary how easy it is to fall into letting the tv occupy us (it made writing this comment easier). At 6 months it’s just interesting lights, colour and sound but when does the addiction take over?

  7. Jools
    February 21, 2012

    I grew up without a television, it was usually a non issue for me. We don’t have one now, but we do use our lap top. We used to put it up high, and the kids got used to it and don’t touch it now if it is down low. I watch a lot of iview though, about two hours a week, so we still have some tv shows, they put some cool kids shows on that too which we sometimes watch. As yet I haven’t found anything that has convinced me that there is evidence that watching limited children’s programs is bad, but I haven’t read all that much and am open to the idea. Looking forward to your review.

  8. Pingback: Buy, Buy Baby: Part 1 « Kimlovesjozi

  9. Pingback: Buy, Buy Baby: Part 2 « Kimlovesjozi

  10. Pingback: Dumb animals | Kimlovesjozi

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This entry was posted on February 21, 2012 by in Beefs, Kids, Life in Australia, Life in South Africa, Reading and tagged , , , , , .
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