Turn off the Television

Okay, here we are at another major way children are left to themselves. Letting the T.V. babysit young children is a huge temptation, and with sick children at the present one I am guilty of. I admit it, I have let Ella and Ezra veg out in front of Mr Rogers Neighborhood and the Scholastic Robert McCloskey collection. Not quite as bad as Nick Jr, but still, studies show that letting young children sit in front of the T.V. causes their brains to become less active than when they are sleeping. Letting them run around without guidance, is actually slightly better because at least they can seek out the developmental input they need. Jane Healy in her book, "Endangered Minds" says, "Preschoolers in America watch an average of 28 hours of T.V. each week." that is a huge amount of time that they are not playing outside or cutting and pasting, or talking to parents. It is time lost.
When I was teaching Sunday School to preschoolers from a poor neighborhood in Mexico, I was astounded by their inability to sit and listen to a story. Without using food as a tool to keep them seated and quiet I could not even read a simple story out of a toddler Bible. I have had the same difficulty when dealing with American children who watch a lot of T.V. Their ability to sit and listen to a story has never been developed. They are so used to watching fast paced cartoons that the attention it takes to sit and absorb the rich vocabulary and word pictures from a great children's story such as The Maggie B. by Irene Haas, or Winnie The Pooh, by A.A. Milne is just not there.
I have a photo of a group we had while we were in Mexico. There were 9 children gathered around a sofa listening to a big sister read. Even the little ones sat with complete attention on the story. Ezra, my two year old comes to me daily with a request to "Read book," using his simple language to communicate a desire to be together, discovering the world of words.
There are a few shows we watch. My goal is to never turn on the T.V. for my toddlers, but lately having gone through a move, a sickness and dealing with all the projects in this house, it has been a convenient activity to use. We use Phillipians 4:8 Whatsoever things are true,pure, lovely, and of good report (paraphrased) as a guide to choosing shows and we are very careful about content and quantity. We like videos such as Signing Time, Blues Clues and the Scholastic Videos which are basically good storybooks made into a movie. As a family we rent from Netflix shows such as Man Vs. Wild (nature study and geography, with a bit of anatomy thrown in) documentaries and the occasional childrens feature such as Meet The Robinsons's. I have even snuck in a few videos completely in Spanish, if they are going to veg out, at least learn a foreign language while doing it, right?
Turning off the T.V is a huge first step in nurturing the spiritual and intellectual growth of your children.

1 comment:

  1. This is so true, Jennifer! We have a rule that we don't watch any 'normal' television, and only occasionally watch a video. We love Andy Griffith episodes and Planet Earth. But I must say, that with the little ones being sick this last week, we have watched a couple more videos than normal. It is encouraging to hear that you have the same issues when your kiddos are sick.