Friday, May 16, 2014

The Idiot Box

T.V. is a strange beast for a parent to deal with.  On the one hand, it makes a decent half-babysitter.  Plopping the kids in front of a show while you get some work done around the house is terribly convenient.  On the other hand, the babysitter you're handing your children over to changes every 20 minutes.
T.V. effectively is accepting a show's writer as your babysitter.  Now, some writers are horrible people who don't share any of your standards.  Other writers are just trying to sell more toys to your kids.
  Mentally, I like to think of the T.V. as letting the local population of Walmart watch your kids while you shop.  A lot of people will be just decent and helpful.  Who knows, if you let this happen in real life, maybe a kind hearted retired school teacher would find your kid and just play with them until you got back (Leap Frog).  Maybe they'd be supervised by a social worker (Sesame Street), or by another parent with kids (Barney).
I started with the positive because any actual parent would be terrified to hand their child unwittingly over to the population of a local supermarket for fear of pedophiles.  In reality, there aren't many T.V. producers that are trying to get your kids to explore their sexuality at an early age--but they are out there and they are cunning and self-interested.
So, what can you do?  Well, you can get rid of T.V. all together, if you have the strength and energy to pull that off.  Dani and I, personally, don't.  So, what we do is we watch the first few episodes with them and tell them what we think.  There was a show our kids found call horseland, which was basically the movie "mean girls" for 3-year-olds that we banned because of all the catty fighting and unpleasantness shown in there.  If there aren't characters that I can clearly label as "good guys" who are worthy of my kids' emulation, I ban that show in my house.  I don't mind if there are bad guys, or scary parts--shoot, I let my kids watch Doctor Who regularly because I think it helps show the merits (and dangers) of curiosity in a healthy light.  I do care about the behaviors shown in the shows my kids watch.

What about when you've built up a good number of shows for your kids to watch and they can't agree on one?  My girls usually can settle on My Little Ponies, but Y always wants Barney or Leap Frog, V always wants Ponies or Ruby Gloom, and N wants Jake and the Neverland Pirates or Ever After High.


I mentioned the marble system in our house in a previous post.  So, we make it so one hour of T.V. costs a marble (the equivalent of one chore around the house).  The second hour of T.V. costs 2 marbles, third costs 3, and so on.  This is a per-kid system, so it effectively ensures that each kid gets to chose one hour's worth of T.V. shows a day, and since they have to do their homework to earn the marble, I'm not worried about it rotting their brains.

Why I'm (still) a Mormon

I don't expect much more to ever be posted on this blog, and I'm largely just posting this to share it with some particular friends....