In my less articulate moments, if you asked me why I don’t want the small one to watch television you’d get an answer something along the lines of ‘Uh, cos it’s all crap’. And while this is not necessarily untrue, there is a bit more behind the decision than my passionate hatred of Hi!We’reOnCrack!5!
1. It is all crap. Well, mostly. Play School has continued to be excellent for years and years and years. But the kids’ TV that I have been exposed to over the past few years has seemed weird, creepy and unnecessarily dumbed down.
2. Other than the programming being weird and creepy, its also setting kids up to be voracious consumers. Even the laudable Play School has a huge range of branded stuff that you can buy. My optimistic theory is that if a kid has never been a television watcher then (before they hit school age, anyway) their clothes are just their clothes, not an opportunity to wear Dora.
3. On top of the brand-induced consumer training is the advertising. Oh the horror. And again, my fervent hope is that not being exposed to the relentless pressure (and it truly is relentless, not to mention exquisitely engineered to succeed – nothing in advertising is accidental) will cut down on small’s potential pestering power. This point could be briefly summarised as: 3. We are tightarses.
4. There are so few years in anyone’s life when their imaginative and creative powers are so alight as in childhood. It is no exaggeration that the first seven years are magical. Absorbed in play, a young child isn’t thinking ‘this acorn can be a tea cup’, they’re thinking ‘this is a teacup’. Sadly, that power disappears, never to return. The more specific purpose toys kids have, the less they need to engage their imagination. Likewise, television.
5. For us it’s just not necessary*. And yes, I know I may change my tune when we have more children, or less patience, or something. But for now we’re fine. Never mind actual toys, chooks or the garden, small goes through phases of fascination with different parts of the house. For a few months small would spend half his morning putting things down the heating vents. Then it was hurling random stuff into the bath. Currently the washing machine is his love interest. Pushing its buttons, putting things in and out of it, watching it spin, trying to climb into it…hours of entertainment, and occasionally quite helpful – put a basket near the load of clean washing and half of it will find its way in.
6. As one friend of mine can wearily attest, it’s addictive. You start with excellent ideals, one hour a week, only with mama, not during meals. Before too long you have a withdrawing-addict-monster-child, clawing their way past you for their next hit.
And then there is this:
Hey small, you can be anything you want! As long as it involves wearing black and being in charge of blowing stuff up.
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*For the sake of full disclosure – we do have a TV and we do watch it. We aim, with varying degrees of success, to maintain a policy of ‘no TV while small is awake’. Notable exceptions being sport and MasterChef. And Glee.