For example, the office of a family doctor - or even worse (in my opinion), a pediatrician - has a TV going nonstop. How do you handle this sometimes unavoidable situation? Do you complain to the doctor? Sneak in a universal remote? Or simply ask the receptionist(s) to turn it down or off, as I did this morning? I thought about saying something about the fact that 98% of the chairs in the waiting room face the TV, but didn't.
What do you do in waiting rooms with TVs?
Our family physician doesn't have a TV in her waiting room (thankfully), but we're going to run into this problem when we go on a plane trip this summer to our youngest nephew's Bar Mitzvah--those pesky mini-screens set into the back of the seats in front of you. It seems they're impossible to turn off; the best we could do was to make the screen black via the contrast control, but every time the system resets (announcements and such), the darn things come back on and we have to repeat the process.
The same annoying experience is waiting for us each time we get the car serviced; there's a huge screen in the waiting area, and it's super-distracting, so we end up going to the far end of the place, into the area where overly friendly salespeople are hoping to sell us a new car. Argh!
It's so irritating how the designers of these spaces seem to believe that we need constant entertainment. Really, it would be sufficient just to leave some magazines around and to have toys and activities for children. I remember waiting around in doctors' offices and other places as a child and being quite content to draw, read, or play with my brother.
We are a TV-free family and I am a physician employed by a hospital. So far, I have been able to keep the TV out of the waiting room, but when they move me to a larger group, I may not have quite the same ability to influence that. I hope if we ever do have one in the waiting room, I will have a TV-free patient comment/complain to the office. Might actually make me seem a little less extreme. :)
I do know that many waiting rooms are putting in TVs in part because they have eliminated the good old toys/books due to concerns about spreading germs.
In situations where the TV is on and we have no control, we try to seat our kids so they aren't facing it. Some waiting room layouts make that difficult. How big a deal I would make of it if we were the patients would depend on the content. If it isn't at least somewhat appropriate for children, I would absolutely say something. Otherwise, I would pick my battles.
I can't believe a pediatrician's office has a tv! I'd talk to the doctors and/or the office manager (?) and refer them to studies that state that tv/videos are harmful to children under 2 and that some families do like to expose their children to tv. Otherwise, I'd find it difficult to say something in a venue where the majority of clients/patients are adults.
When I'm at my family's house, I ask them to turn the tv off because it's too loud and unnecessary since we are all there to be together to spend quality time with each other.
At toddler birthday parties in the last 2 months my son fortunately was not interested in the tv since he had so many new toys to play with. One of the mommies was actually kind enough to acknowledge that they had the tv on and was it okay with me, which I thought was nice and rare!
This happened to us again yesterday. In terms of quality, I guess it wasn't that bad; it could have been corny or really weird children's programming or offensive daytime adult programming, but I think it was news. (I wasn't paying attention.)
Here's what I wrote down afterwards:
Look for books. Even some books geared toward adults have pictures, and older children can read after you check that the books are appropriate. For example, my four-year-old son paged through a book full of motorcycle pictures on my lap.
Look for crayons and papers to color. If you find them, color a picture for the doctor/nurse/ARNP/therapist or if your child cannot, you could color a picture for him....or for someone who didn't come with you.
If food is allowed, bring a snack if you can think of something that won't make much of a mess. Gummy fruit snacks would be sticky if left there but they wouldn't leave crumbs like crackers or drip like pears.
For older children, bring homework. A workbook would probably be best, or you could stick a pencil int he page of the handwriting book you left off on. I recommend only bringing flash cards if you have a good rubber band or close-able container to put them in (ours is plastic and snaps closed).
If your child is old enough and doesn't need so much attention, have her pick out one educational book/schoolbook and one book she is reading for enjoyment. This works best if it occupies her in the waiting room for the long wait and if she understands that when the doctor comes into the exam room, it's time for her to put the book down and participate (if it's her appointment).
If the doctor doesn't already have some, I'd suggest to him/her (or his/her staff) to obtain some educational picture books on health, nutrition, exercise, physiology, etc., as well as on what to expect when going to the doctor's office. That way, children can learn something relevant while waiting, can be reassured about what many consider a scary experience, and might even have a question or two to ask the doctor.