Skip to main content

The cleaning day...

It rained in Melbourne today, and in the spirit of looking for the positive, I was very happy for the opportunity to stay indoors and clean up! I put on Angelique Kidjo full volume and did the dishes, most of Bryn's clothes, most of my clothes, and some nappies that were growing fur in my dry pail (ick, ick, ick!!!)...

I tidied up Bryn's drawers so now Dave can actually find clothes for his son, and I came to the realisation that if I'm feeling a bit short on cash it's probably because Bryn and I have enough clothing to cloth a small village! As I said to Dave, if I buy any more clothing for either of us in the next 2 years, then I must be COMPLETELY INSANE!!! He just quietly agreed...

AND NOW FOR SOMETHING COMPLETELY DIFFERENT...

All this time spent cleaning gave me a chance to mull over something that has been bothering me in the past couple of days... I was watching on of those morning shows yesterday morning, and Dr John Irvine (gosh, I don't like him!) was talking about a compillation of research about children and tv viewing. Apparently, there has been a huge growth in this area of research and the recent research is revealing some alarming trends in Child Brain Development in the wake of television becoming a fixture in every household over the past 60 years.

I've read a lot of the research, as part of my communications degree (some 15 years ago), but obviously there is a lot of new research I haven't read. Part of this has shown that while the visual parts of the human brain seem to be developing BETTER than before, there is a marked decline in the development of the parts of the brain relating to LISTENING skills. In fact, having the tv on constantly is apparently teaching children to TUNE OUT, and so professionals such as teachers are seeing that children actually don't possess the listening skills of previous generations...

I can totally see how this could be true. I have often boasted that my own children will have the tv on but not actually watch it, not really take any notice of it at all as they go about their playing. I thought this was a good thing, because it reflected how they weren't "tv obsessed". However, simultaneously I've often lammented that my boys just don't seem to be able to process what they are told. That they don't seem to be able to LISTEN with attention, particularly Erik. Now, of course, I'm left wondering how I might have contributed to this.

That said, Erik didn't watch any television until he was two. Luey grew up watching tv (he was born 11 days before Erik turned two, you see).... Bryn LOVES his Thomas dvd, and his Brum dvd, and would happily watch those all day, if I'd let him. He PESTERS me for them when they're not on. He PESTERS me to have the tv on in the background, and Dave and I have (pathetically) joked how he believes the tv is another family member, whom he misses when s/he is not on...

Deep in my being I know television is not a positive force in our society. There has never been a god who's alter the family sat at for hours a day, just starring. If you think, objectively (it's hard, I know) about what a tv is and how we (our society) worships the box, it's actually quite alarming. And yet, I, very personally, find the allure of the box almost completely impossible to ignore. Right now, as I type, I sit alone in the loungeroom, I'm at the dining table typing, but the tv is on, broadcasting it's message to an empty room, but I can't bring myself to turn it off and just sit in the silence. That's not good.

People say tv is not the problem, it's how people use their tvs, but seriously, a tv is not like a book, or a game, or even people, you take out occassionally, or visit occassionally, and then put away or come away from. Televisions are like paintings that entire rooms are furnished around! People decide where the tv is going FIRST and then furnish the room around the best position from which to see and hear the tv. We don't control television, it controls us, whether we believe it or not.

It's not the same with computers, or stereos, or any other electronic equipment that we USE. People don't use television that way, people have a relationship with television which is like that of another person. It really is scary how television has taken over the world in the 60 years that it has been around, and how parents are at war with their televisions over the best interests of their children!

Comments

Juniper said…
Sif, I love how honest you are about yourself and your family - it is really refreshing!!!

Boy, TV. It is a can of worms isn't it? I have a MILLION things I would like to contribute in this comment, but just don't have the time right now. I want to say, you are right in what you said in so many ways. The fact that people (adults *and* children) need the TV on just for background noise and company is a sad state of affairs, but totally true. I used to be like this for years, especially as a child my kids ages (the middle childhood years) and in the few years of being unemployed from about 18 - 19yrs. What would I have done without Donahue and Oprah LOL?

I know I have mentioned before the book "Set Free Childhood" but this book is what got me interested in this topic back in 2003 when I was living in Edinburgh and having *huge* behavioural issues with DD and television. Reading this book, which essentially says much of what you have just written amongst other stuff, was a real eye opener, and led to us cutting TV *completely* for the children for quite some time.

We have a pretty good balance now, with no TV on at all, all day, untill approx 7pm, which is 1/2hr before DD goes to bed. DS gets to watch about 2 shows per week between 7.30 and 8.30 (he is 10yrs) and the only other time they can switch it on is on Sat and Sun mornings for about an hour so Dh and I can sleep in LOL. Then it goes off (maybe at 9am) and the weekend activites begin (sport, art, reading, games etc...). Of course, "movie nights" happen approx every 2 or three weeks on the weekend, and we all enjoy a DVD together, which is fun!

This balance has been a gradual progression from one extreme to another. I know I could never get Dh to give up the TV completely, but am so grateful of his support in it being off 90 % of the time the children are awake. He can watch his Star Trek at 9.30pm just as easily as earlier.

This change has made a huge difference to the equalibrium of our household. I know that the ages of 18mths - 4yrs seem to be a real "TV obsessive" time, but after our expreience with DD, I am just not sure if the *peace* found for that hour or so of watching the Wiggles etc... is really *worth* the behaviour fall out afterwards, yk?

So, this next baby, I am going to be much more *conscious* of this, and avoid it as much as possible, because I now know from experience, that the "fall out" isn't really worth it in the long (or short) run.

Great topic Sif, even though it is controversial, and again, like I said, I really think that your honesty is so refreshing!
Jayne said…
Interesting. I agree with jen, your topics are always interesting and honest! I'm about halfway through a book about TV viewing and how it creates ADD in kids-I cant remember what it's called LOL.(I haven't read it for ages) It's one of those cases where my personal view is all things in moderation. I don't think tv is an evil thing to be avoided-it can be educational, and beneficial to our psychological health-think about how good you feel after watching a funny comedy show, or a moving drama..And documentaries can be very good for kids. Liam loves to watch docos on dinosaurs, and sea creatures for example. I personally *dont* feel controlled by television-I am addicted to coffee, chocolate, wine, and the internet lol..but not television.I do have a few shows I like to see-but I don't feel ruled by it. However I also highly dislike silence, and will *always* have the radio or music on for background noise when the kids aren't here. My kids do watch too much-it's a hard balancing act. I have to admit being a WAHM means sometimes you do have to take advantage of the tv babysitter. This is one reason Sienna is now in FDC 2 days a week, so she gets to do creative activities and arty stuff with other kids instead of being placed in front of ABC kids so I can work or study.And Liam is way to fond of television. I don't find it impacts negatively on his behaviour per se, however he is too addicted to it. I'm trying to cut it down slowly..
casso said…
I have rather strong opinions on tv (LOL, a big surprise I hear you saying!). I have just read so much information that says television before the age of three disrupts neural development, hell, even the American Paediatrics Assoc. says that! So Harriet has just never watched tv. Ever! The only time is when the World Cup (cricket) has been on and the match has crossed over when she has been awake (all of about ten minutes both times).

But I think, that aside, it is more about how adults use television. I have always really detested 'background' television. It is on and you're watching a show or it is muted when ads are on or it is off. And that is it. Now we only watch shows that we've downloaded so we don't ever watch ads (eg: in the recent State Election I had no idea about supposedly 'aggressive' advertising everyone was talking about on polling day). And I really don't miss it. In fact I feel so much better for not watching it.

But I am amazed how when this was brought up in EB I was completely lambasted for suggesting that no child watch tv under the age of three. In fact I was told that it was impossible (yes, impossible) to be a mother today and not have your child watch tv (um, the fact that I was obviously doing exactly that seemed to pass this person by). So, *sigh*, I didn't bother fighting that fight.

But when people are out there having huge arguments over whether children should drink/eat x, y or z before this or that age, it then seems crazy to me that they will, without question, allow some corporation to dictate what's in their child's head for an hour.

That said, I am not planning on keeping Harry in a tv-free zone. But as it stands I am not going to let her watch tv until we can sit down and discuss how tv can manipulate your view on things....so maybe about five? I haven't really worked on it yet.

Ok, so I have had a really long day and this is rambling without intent. Sorry Sif! :o) But, as usual, a thought provoking post.

Love Cass
Sif said…
Gosh, I'm soooo torn on this subject. I'm sitting here going yes, yes, yes, to everything Jen and Cass have said, and at the same time, I have to admit I find it very hard to get through my day without putting the tv on for Bryn.

Today is a really good example. I started out great, despite the pestering for Brum from the moment he opened his eyes (yes, it's that bad already)... He was VERY cranky and irretable today, and part of me thinks it's because the tv didn't go straight on, but another part of me says it's something else, like his cold.

By about 10.30am after encouraging him to play with several different things, and gasp, even sitting down and playing with him, with him mostly just wanting to feed. I gave in and put Bob on for him. He watched Bob for about 5 minutes, then pottered around. So, he basically wanted the tv on in the background. I'd had music on before that, but he wanted the flickering of the screen.

This, of course, has me even more convinced that tv is evil, but I'm also feeling very much like I can't get anything done with it.

Part of me wants to "disappear" the tv altogether, seriously, the tv might meet a mysterious end, it's not like Dave ever watches it anyway... He watches DVDs on his computer...
Juniper said…
Hugs Sif, it really is hard!

Wanted to say, that we do what Cass does, and whatever we watch, we watch on Foxtel IQ, which means it has been downloaded onto the harddrive (does that make sense?) So, we fast forward all ads, and so therefore also seem to be in a bit of an ad free zone, not really being up to date with *heaps* of things LOL!

If we are watching something that has not been recorded on the IQ (very rare) we mute the ads, as we find them *so* intrusive and, have you noticed, extra loud???

Sit, you are doing your best, like we all are. The important thing is that you are aware of the pros and cons of TV, you are beginning to feel uncomfortable about certain aspects of it, and you are thinking about making a change. You do the best you can, and I totally remember how hard it was in those early toddler years.

good luck whatever you choose, however you go/manage, and you will have support on either side LOL!
Sif said…
Cass, do you also have Foxtel? I like the idea of that IQ thing, and of things like Tivo, but it seems to me that you have to have MORE Tv in order to have more control, or less Tv.
Juniper said…
yeah, i get what you mean. But we don't watch *more* tv because of the IQ, in fact, we watch less. It is just that we have *more control* over what and when we watch, yk? Which is just *so* much better!!!

Is the Tivo less expensive, eg. is it like a once off purchase, rather than an ongoing expense like Foxtel? If so, maybe that would be the way to go? I don't know anything about Tivo....
casso said…
Sif - no, we don't have Foxtel. we just download things from ...*ahem*...certain sites. ;o) Plus we don't actually watch any tv when she's actually awake. It's all at night.

Cheers, Cass

Popular posts from this blog

12 Things Happy People Do Differently - a self-reflection...

A few days ago a Facebook friend posted the above poster on her wall. I believe she got these points from this blog which she enjoys reading, and the bloggers on the Marc and Angel Hack Life blog derived their discussion of these points from this book, available on Amazon - you're welcome! I have to admit, I haven't read the blog or the book I've just mentioned but wanted my readers to have access to the sources of the poster for their own reflective purposes.
The New Year will be upon us in but a few days and I thought this a great opportunity to do a little personal assessment on how I'm playing the happy game. I'm often not very happy at all - I don't need to be happy all the time, let me just say that up front - I personally believe that life is a balancing act and those who seek euphoria often will also often feel desolation because in all things there must be balance. The great riches of the few on this planet come at the personal cost of the many as is …

The symbolism of elephants...

Just recently I've been seeing and noticing elephants everywhere!

A few weeks ago I saw the Samsung Elephant Ad, and watching that led me to watching a video with an elephant painting (seriously, you have to watch it to believe it!).

Then last night the boys told me they were having a free dress day at school to raise money for 'Mali the Elephant' - who turned out to be a paper maché statue which the children will paint and then show around the council before it comes back to the school to stand outside the performing arts room.

Then this morning I followed a link from Twitter to Toushka Lee's blog and read this post about an elephant orphanage in Sri Lanka.

This morning the Grumpy Old Man did another driving test and unfortunately didn't pass. We've booked his next test and are looking forward to that now. About ten minutes before he walked in the door I saw this poster on Facebook...


At the time, I didn't know if the Grumpy Old Man had been successful or …

Alone... And Stuff...

Do you ever just need to be alone?



As the boys are growing up, we have more times when the house is quiet. The youngest will be asleep. One will be reading, one will be playing on his computer with headphones on, one will be painting and there is stillness.

Sometimes, even that is not enough.

Sometimes I crave being alone, with no possibility of someone suddenly realising they have to tell me something important or ask me a question or even just crash about in the kitchen.

Sometimes I crave S P A C E, lots and lots of space, being able to walk from room to room without encountering another soul.

This is how I felt when I woke up this morning, so instead of getting ready for work, I decided to stay home. Get up, but not go anywhere, no hear the sound of my own voice, or anyone else's.

I think this might just be part of getting older. After a lifetime of chasing after other people and trying not to be alone, my mind and body is full of thoughts, experiences, feelings, and busy-ness …