Monday, 19 December 2016 18:20

TV in the Lives of Your Children

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The TV is such a great tool! It makes our children stay still and quiet, avoids fights between them and keeps them clean!! Great!! It’s an easy fix. I can understand the mother of the children that we always see through our window: the TV is always on; cartoons are always there.

One can imagine that, in the long run, this will have a negative effect on our children; and we are correct. The TV really slows us down and does not provide a good education for our children. The negative effects are much more than we can imagine. It was very upsetting for me to see my little child making the same face of a character on his favorite cartoon show, and also, when he, at two years of age, started repeating the same phrases (bad words) from the show “Dora the Explorer”, it made me really mad. The other day my other two children (6 and 7, respectively) asked me, giggling: “Mom, where do babies come from?” They had heard the same question from a girl asking her parents in one of the shows they had been watching on TV, and they thought it was funny that the mom was not able to respond to the question. This might not seem like a big deal, but it made me realize that my children were learning all these thing from TV, and also that they were more likely to listen to what was said on TV than to what I could tell them.

I would advise that if your children watch TV, sit with them and watch as well. There is a large number of shows that have a very negative message; much more than we imagine. Pay attention to how parent/children relationships are portrayed,  or simply how their relationship is portrayed in regard to authority. Listen as well to the vocabulary that is used: how they talk to each other. Pay special attention to the image of family, friendship, and happiness that they propose. Be careful with programs where the mom is the bad guy, where friends take advantage of the main character or where the best thing that can happen in their lives is to become famous. You also have to be very careful with a new trend that has become very popular: the ideas of “energy” in the world, the battle between good and evil , witchcraft and super powers. This is all designed to make the next generation believe and accept New Age as a real truth; it will also make them think that good and evil are on the same level and that these “energies” are just a normal part of their environment. In addition, through all the watching of television, we are allowing our children to be ill-mannered. The other thing that is shown on TV continuously, is showing children bad things as being good. How beautiful are all demons, and how pretty the vampires are! And after they come out in TV they are also presented to our children in toys, books and many items that our children use and want. In the end, all these things create much confusion in our children because they are no longer able to identify what is good or evil.

You need to stand up as a parent and remove what you see that is not good for your children and explain and talk to them about it. Your children are not fools, and can understand, if explained correctly, what is good for them and what is not. In the end they need to understand that the fact is not that they “cannot watch”, but rather, they choose not to watch certain things because they understand that these things are not doing any good in their lives. I have experienced this myself, first hand, with my oldest daughter. After many fights and trying to talk and explain to her what the truth is, and how all these shows influence her life and behaviors, she can now decide for herself and even explain to her friends why she has chosen not to watch certain TV shows. She has now taken ownership of her decisions and she understands that this is for her own good. I have to admit that this process has been very difficult and I am pretty sure that I might have to fight this fight again with her or any of my other children, but right now we are at peace.

The ideal is to be able to control what children can watch: like buying movies, or downloading them in your computer or smart TV; in this way, you will be able to make sure that your children are watching things that you know are good for them; but you also need to watch TV with them from time to time, and to take the opportunity to teach them how to develop good judgment. Giving them everything does not help them to develop healthy behaviors. Take the opportunity to watch that popular show that everybody is watching and have a conversation with them pointing out what is wrong and thus helping them to identify those kinds of situations. This is my own opinion, this is not something that the “well-educated” might teach, and it is based on my own experience. I prefer to teach my children to have good judgment and to learn how to choose for themselves what is good or bad for them.

Other practical advice is to teach them when and for how long you can watch TV. This easily can get out of our control. One example can be: to watch TV just on weekends or when parents are taking a nap; or even just for half an hour when they have finished their homework, or just a Friday movie night while ordering a pizza! 

Another thing I wanted to discuss is something I have observed for a long time. It is not a coincidence that every time I allow my children to watch TV, they become foolish and grumpy. It looks like all the energy they have not used while sitting in front of the TV comes out later like an explosion. They behave very badly! And this is not just with the TV, but also with the tablet and the computer - any screen. I even thought that this was a behavior limited to my children and I tried to prevent it from happening by telling them that they need to behave accordingly after shutting down the devices. But even with some punishment they would continue to behave this way. After talking with some of my friends, I discovered that a lot of people have to deal with the same situation. I have no clue as to the reason this happens! It might not happen to everybody but there are certainly a large number of families that experience the same behavior problems. This is something that surprises me. It also makes me very angry; to the point that I had thought of giving away the ipad and the TV. In the end, my husband and I decided to teach our children to make good use if these devices for short periods of time. The more time spent in front of the device, the worse it is. It is true that the more they play (instead of watching TV), the more work it is for the parent- more to clean, and more fights over the toys…but in the end it is healthier for the children. 

I truly admire families that do not own a TV. I truly do. We decided to keep our TV because we want our children to learn how to use it; but more than once I have wanted to throw it out the window...(he he ...) We need to take advantage of the TV even though this may mean that we might have to pick a fight every now and then with our children, and a lot of the time, teach them to how to discern how to use it wisely.

I would love to hear about your experiences in this matter. I believe that this is an issue that affects and concerns us all. And I welcome learning from all of you. I would appreciate it if you take some time to share your opinions and experiences that you have had with your children and this issue of technology. Thanks a lot.

Economist from the University of Navarra. Teacher Assistant of the University of Zurich in Macroeconomic. Manager of Aguirretel SL. And Documentalist  of the Asociacion Valenciana de Empresiarios. Currently, I am a full-time housewife and mother of 5 children; in my free time I also help with different educational activities and I am finishing my post graduate studies at the UPV.

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