Plugged In?

Why is it that there is always a controversy going on about TV, video games, and now the 'net, when it comes to kids? It's almost like talking politics or religion, people are so vehemently divided. No TV, no video games! It hinders their imagination, growth, etc. It makes them violent, crazy, etc. I've read it all, heard it all. Where am I? Somewhere in the middle I guess.

I was never denied TV, so I have never actively denied TV to my kids. I monitor closely, because nowadays, you just have to. There's a lack of innocence on a lot of shows that I don't want my kids tuning into. That's why we're the parents- like everything else, it can be ok if you actually take the time to watch WITH them, or keep a close eye on what they are seeing and hearing. It makes me sad that they can't watch some things with us the way I watched with my parents- but TV is growing increasingly adult friendly only.

I'm a big Disney fan- we can all watch together. I was a huge, and probably will be again, Noggin, Nick Jr and PBS fan. I watched with them, (and made a fool of myself dancing, singing and being a loon with the characters on TV) and they can learn a lot of little things from some of the shows on these channels. But, I have a rule about any TV they watch. Might be odd, but it's how I do it. They cannot ever just plop and veg. And they never have. They play and watch, or read and watch, color and watch,or watch and clean their rooms, etc... you see where I'm going. I started that with Alyssa and just kept it going. And the kids are imaginative, creative and fairly normal. They don't want to blow anything up, or sit with their noses pressed to the screen. It works, for us.

Video games I had a harder time bending to. I had them, my husband had them (still does), and it was fine... because there was balance. Again, like everything, balance. But I feared the game system becoming an obsession or a battle, and I was pretty firm on a "no way" for a long time. But I caved at Christmas... er, rather SANTA overruled me and brought a Playstation 1 here, to go along with Dad's ever popular X-Box 360 (play Dad, let us watch you play! ) That's something we, again, can all do together. For Jake especially, learning is a little simpler with a game- there are plenty of educational games out there (another of my quirks, like with TV- it has to be at least a balance of 10% fluff game or show with the rest educational on some level) and his hand-eye coordination has made some improvements as well. It's helped with his fine motor skills and hey, I'm all for it. It's also branched them out into more of an interest in board and card games we can all play.

And I'll be honest- sometimes it's not bad to let them park in front of a movie for a couple hours. I get a lot done that way, be it laundry or cleaning the bathroom, etc., without the fighting or following. Especially in winter, when it's way too cold to go outdoors, or it's yet another snow day and the baby's fussy, the kids are having major cabin fever and I need a margarita at eight in the morning. There are those days.

But, I have never, ever believed that TV, games or music is responsible for the violence in kids. I listened to rap for years, and I never wanted to shoot anyone. I have watched horror movies, violent TV, etc... even as a teenager... and never did it occur to me to inflict that on anyone else. Why? Because that trigger wasn't already there. And if it had been, my parents would have seen it... because they were responsible enough to keep an eye. That's what we do. It's our JOB. Even if they do watch or play, that's why there are RATINGS, for we the parents to look for and allow or deny them. Like everything else in parenting, it's our responsibility to keep the bad stuff out of their hands for as long as we possibly can.

I don't think it makes a bad parent to let your kids watch TV, play games, etc. Or use the 'net, which mine really don't. Alyssa does at school, but here it's not something I'm really ready for. But, like I said- people aren't bad parents for allowing it. People are irresponsible for turning on the TV, PC or game system and walking away. Not knowing is the big no-no. Not keeping eyes and ears on what they do- because you know better, and they don't.

Balance. Life is all about it. What do you think?


jennifer h said...

I agree. Everything in moderation. And as a parent, keeping a finger on the pulse of what your kids are doing and watching. Pretty simple.

Great post!

amanda said...

I am with you on this! Completely! :)

TZT said...

I agree too. As long as you are engaged with them and have a good idea about what they are taking in, I don't see the problem with watching in moderation. It's part of our culture, and better to instill reasonable habits throughout life than deny and make the whole thing seem more attractive than it should be.

Plus, my son learns amazing things from space documentaries, which I love to watch with him.

'cuz I'm the mommy, that's why! said...


Melinda Zook said...

I totally agree. My kids watch TV and play some games but I think it is all about balancing it. If they get to watch a half an hour of TV, then I take them outside for 20 minutes. As long as they don't sit there like statues for hours, I feel it is okay. The only problem lately is finding good programs.

BTW, love your blog and think you deserve an award over at my blog. Come on by.

Autumn LeBeau said...

Another big thanks for the award. And it truly is all about balance- be it with food, drink, TV and everything else in life. Moderation is the key.... now, if only I could remember that when I have a bag of Oreo's in front of me....