If you had asked me about my views on kids and televisions (or electronic devices of any kind for that matter) before I had Ethan I would have told you that I was going to try my hardest to avoid them for the most part. Yeah obviously I knew he was going to watch TV at some point, but I didn't want him to ever be that kid that always had to have it on to be happy. I didn't want him to have to have it in the car every time we went somewhere. In fact, I didn't think he would even be into it the first year or so of his life if I simply didn't expose him to it.
....enter life with child....
I tend to have the TV on for most of the day around here purely for noise. A quiet house drives me batty. I can't help it. So TV for E started out slowly. I noticed he responded to certain commercials and that bright colors really caught his attention. Then a few short months into his life, I found Mickey Mouse Clubhouse really caught his attention. In fact it gave me at least 15 minutes to get ready in the morning or drink my coffee. 15 minutes of anything isn't bad right? He's happy, I'm happy. Score!
As he got older and I had him in a play pen, I'd switch on the Disney channel because it would maybe buy me 5 more minutes to complete whatever task I was trying to do. He still wasn't totally into it. He wasn't really watching it. It's okay, right?
My saving grace was that I didn't know many other kid channels. Um, hello have you noticed how inappropriate some "cartoons" are? So, really we were just regulated to morning TV with Disney.
Then I found Sprout.
Very appropriate, very learning oriented, cute TV all.day.long.
I still refrained from having it on too much, but then I got caught up in birthday madness and needed a week to bake. I had crap everywhere that he didn't need to get into so the play pen was used a little more frequently. I felt bad. I turned on the TV.
Guess what? He really, really likes Sesame Street and that lasts an hour! Do you know how much you can get done in an hour?
Yeah. I was hooked.
After the b-day madness, the cycle continued. He's out of the play pen a lot more, but I still had on Sprout because it did catch his attention and kept him happy for just a bit longer. I could do just a few more things. It's a learning channel. He's learning. Who am I to stop that?
Hell, even I was learning.
The morning show told me the general weather forecast, the date and what day of the week it was, and that's helpful to me because, let's face it, a lot of the time I don't know what day it is around here. I also learned Spanish and even some German. Ok, I don't really remember the German words, but I did for like a day. I learned some catchy tunes to sing.
Then I realized...
If I know the daily schedule of all the shows, the catchy little jingles, the words to the Sprout birthday song, and can even repeat lines of some of the shows.....there's a problem. My guilty conscience hit big time. It was time to turn the TV off.
I'm sure this is just the beginning of the electronic battle. Balance is needed and to be honest I'm not quite sure what balance is these days for electronics and kids. Even as adults we have a hard time finding balance for ourselves. All I know is that I want to introduce electronics as slowly as possible. That means I as a parent have to show constraint and that my friends is the real problem.
It's so easy to turn on the TV or throw something bright and shiny in front of their face so we can get something done. I'm not condemning anyone who does this. I do it and will continue to do it....but hopefully with balance. Electronics are great, there are a lot of things to be learned from them, but they don't replace conversation, family time, or you teaching your kids things yourself.
All images are property of Laura Sager unless otherwise noted.