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LunaMom's Avatar LunaMom 06:10 PM 04-07-2003
I'm reading the revised version of Marie Winn's "The Plug-In Drug" and it's really fascinating. Not that I needed the book to convince me that tv is not so wonderful, though. What i like about the book is the way she places the emphasis on the simple experience of tv watching as problematic, rather than the content of the programs. In fact, she points out that all the efforts to make programming suitable for children may be more harmful than beneficial, because it enables parents to feel better about letting their kids watch a lot of tv. Think about it - children's programs are available almost around the clock, aren't they? When I talk with friends about shows their kids like, they always name so many more than I do - dd watches Clifford and Dragon Tales, but a lot of my friends mention those plus Blue's Clues, Bob the Builder, Dora the Explorer, Rolie Polie Olie, and on and on (all fairly appropriate preschool shows), and I wonder how many of those shows per day the kid is watching. :

Anyway, my question is about the "state" of your child when he/she watches tv or videos (if you allow tv at all, I know some here do not). Is your child one of those "zombie viewers" who wouldn't even notice if you called his name from across the room, slack-jawed, mesmerized? Or does he/she stay more alert? My dd tends to be more alert as long as someone is nearby - she'll point things out to me and sometimes imitate physical parts of what she sees, such as a dance. If nobody is there, though, I imagine she does get into that trance-like state, and I'm trying really hard to not let her watch alone (she sometimes watches when I shower, but not too often - dh is usally giving her breakfast at those times).

Curious to hear what everyone else has to say. Also, I'm recommending the book - it first came out in the 70s, but it's been updated quite a bit.

grumo's Avatar grumo 08:33 PM 04-07-2003
My reason for not wanting dd to watch tv relates to the zombie effect. I know that *I* watch TV mostly to escape or just turn off. Infrequently a program comes along that I watch for the sake of the the program. Right now I don't have one of those. I am currently not really watching any TV at all. I still tape some things every week in case I feel to need to tune out the world and my own brain, but I haven't found the need. We recently visited in ILs and they have the TV on all the time. It was particularly depressing this time around with all the war coverage. I found myself very easily sucked into watching things I'd intellectually choose not to, but just don't. The TV is very attractive and addictive. I am glad that in my household we have only one TV and it is out of the way and out of the regular traffic of the house. I think that if DH liked TV, I'd watch much more than I'd actively choose to.

With regard to dd, she hasn't watched any TV for her sake. I have a personal goal of avoiding it until after she is 2. She gets exposed to my or DH's programing intermittently half a dozen times a month. She has never shown any interest expect to the Simpsons. It creeps us out to see her become slack jawed. We turned off the Simpsons immediately.

When she'd older, I'd like to allow a couple hours a week of TV. It is, afterall, a major part of our culture for better or worse. But I think that any programing I select whould have to have real value, not just not have less desirable elements. I can't really give any examples of what I mean since I am not familiar with children's programing.
dotcommama's Avatar dotcommama 08:59 PM 04-07-2003
My kids are definately the "slack-jawed" viewing type. When I put the tv on they sit down, watch and don't really move (though they laugh and smile ).

I always wondered if it's b/c they don't watch much so they really focus when it's on. They only watch one or tops two 1/2 hr shows per day, non commercial (pbs or video) and they watch even less tv in the spring and summer when we play outside all day long.

Most of the children I've seen who are raised having the tv on all the time don't really even notice it the way my kids do - it's just backround to them and they seem to tune it out. I'm not sure which is worse? :
khrisday's Avatar khrisday 09:23 PM 04-07-2003
My dd is not all that interested in TV (she will watch if her bro puts a DVD in, but usually loses interest halfway through) My son is a very active viewer. He rarely sits, but acts out play along with the movie. If he is tired, he does the slack-jaw, glazed eyes bit, but his norm is the playing along.
village idiot's Avatar village idiot 01:17 AM 04-08-2003
It's weird...when my 12 yo was small she only watched PBS and very little of that. But when she was a preschooler I started noticing that she turned nto a zombie when watching tv. She is much better now. She is sometimes still a zombie but will usually talk about stuff that she sees on tv. My 5 month old doesn't seem interested in the tv unless its cartoons. It's going to be interesting trying to limit the baby's tv viewing and still allow the older dd her tv time. she goes over her allotment of tv time sometimes because i forget and she usually doesn't turn it off by herself unless i have told her to after a certain show or whatever. all this is not helped by the fact that dh is a tv nut-actually a movie nut. he is much better since the baby has been born and he is working ALL the time. LOL
Mere's Avatar Mere 03:00 PM 04-08-2003
We don't forbid TV for dd (15 months) but we don't go out of our way to promote it either. Dh watches more TV than I do, so dd does usually get a little TV exposure every other day or so. From what I can tell, she doesn't pay any attention to it. She's never seen any kid-oriented videos though, so maybe that's why...
Evergreen's Avatar Evergreen 03:55 PM 04-08-2003
We dont have a TV and I didnt grow up with one. But my parents did get one about 3 or 4 years ago, my sister who is 9 is the zombie type whereas the 12 yo doesnt even watch it. I think it depends alot on the kid.
LunaMom's Avatar LunaMom 06:50 PM 04-08-2003
Replying to my own thread here...

Dotcomama said:
I always wondered if it's b/c they don't watch much so they really focus when it's on. They only watch one or tops two 1/2 hr shows per day, non commercial (pbs or video) and they watch even less tv in the spring and summer when we play outside all day long.

Most of the children I've seen who are raised having the tv on all the time don't really even notice it the way my kids do - it's just backround to them and they seem to tune it out. I'm not sure which is worse?
I've often wondered this myself. Quite a few of the kids dd plays with seem to play while they watch, kind of shifting their focus between the tv and their play, while my dd focuses intently on what she is watching. Those kids are the ones who have the tv on a lot of the time, while dd watches one or two short programs a day. It makes sense, I guess, that the kids whose parents just leave PBS or Disney or Nick Jr. on all day will tune it out, but I've heard that this is bad in its own way, because the child does not ever attend to anything he/she is doing fully.
Periwinkle's Avatar Periwinkle 04:35 PM 04-10-2003
We don't let our dd and ds watch TV, but they would if they could!! :LOL If we have the TV on and dd/ds come into the room, they fixate on the TV and crane their necks around to try to watch. Off it goes ASAP, since I'm obsessed with not letting them watch, but I swear sometimes I see why some moms lets their babies watch cartoons or baby videos like Baby Einstein, because I guarantee if I put something like that on and sat them down in front of it, they wouldn't move for half an hour at least. So not that I will let them watch TV anytime soon, but I guess I do see what the allure is.

Alas, if only me and dh could give it up, but we're addicted to Tivo!!!! And Six Feet Under...
beanma's Avatar beanma 04:55 PM 04-10-2003
i was one of the zombies growing up and the TV was on all the time at my house. my mom would leave to go somewhere and go out the den door right beside the tv telling me good bye and where she was going and when my older brother and sister would ask me where she was or my dad would come home and ask, i had no idea she'd even left. this happened a number of times. i'd also get similarly engrossed in other activities like drawing or crafts, so part of it may be a personality trait, but i definitely zombied out to the tv. i watched way too much tv as a kid. i used to think it didn't affect me at all, but now that we have dd (26mo) i'm rethinking a lot of things. i don't think i've been permanently damaged by it and am certainly old enough (ancient, really) to sift out the good and the bad now, but we don't let dd really watch much. for the most part when we do have the tv on we turn the sound all that way down and put closed captioning on. i find that i veg out much less that way and DD doesn't get sucked into it at all. if it's really a show dh and i want to watch, though, we can still enjoy it w/ the closed captioning.
Summer's Avatar Summer 11:22 PM 04-11-2003
My son doesn't watch any children's TV at home at all and I'd like to keep it that way for as long as possible. I have friends who do pop in multiple videos during the day and when we're with them I'm often inappropriately proud that Jonah doesn't seem to pay them any attention. He's an active kid in general, though, so I know it's just that he'd rather be moving and doing than watching anything. I'm sure that'll change as he gets older.

My dh does watch movies and sports from time to time and Jonah will cuddle up to him and "watch" with him. I think that's much more about the cuddle than the TV, though.
Alstrameria's Avatar Alstrameria 12:29 AM 04-12-2003
Dd is an active watcher. I have a teletubbies dvd and "homeward bound" also on dvd. If she asks to see the dogs (homeward) I'll put it on but it only holds her for a few minutes. With teletubbies she'll watch longer but likes to point things out and talk to me about it, so I guess we both watch teletubbies.

I don't watch much else though, I don't have time!! Sometimes dh will download episodes of Buffy or Friends, but that's it. We cancelled cable because the tv was getting dusty! I must say I'm glad though.

teachma's Avatar teachma 01:52 AM 04-12-2003
My ds will pretty much only watch tv if someone is sitting next to him. He likes to talk about each and every thing he sees while watching a show or movie. This is fine with me at home, but allowing him to carry on full conversations while watching has sure created a problem in the movie theater!! Now that I'm taking the time to think about it, ds's tv viewing behavior is the same as the way he behaves when we read books or play any thing at all- a million questions and comments throughout. I guess that's why I never though of tv as pure evil for him- because I can always tell his little mind is actively engaged and making all sorts of connections.
imakebelieve's Avatar imakebelieve 11:24 AM 04-12-2003
My ds does watch tv, sometimes more than I like. He wakes up very slowly in the morning and that is when he watches some select shows. Some mornings he takes about a half an hour before he wakes up and wants to play or even use the potty. We have the tv on in the morning on and off. But, it goes off at a certain time and doesn't go on again unless it is a special occasion. I don't watch much prime time myself, but I do like old movies and tv shows like Lucy, Leave it to Beaver and Mary Tyler Moore. Stuff like that. He knows those characters as well as Dora.

We started off with the plan of no tv, but have slided way more than we like. Ds doesn't veg out, he actually gets up and acts the show out and participates in Dora or Blues Clues. He loves to act things out, even in the movie theater. He laughs quite a lot while he's watching something funny.

Edited to add: He also likes to discuss everything he sees. I take him to the movies when no one else is there. He loves going to the movies. He picks a character and repeats every line they say. The last movie was Jungle Book 2 and he acted our Moglie's part.

TV is something we are working on improving in our family. Dh flips the tv on if he doesn't feel like parenting and that drives me crazy. But, we are working on it. Days where the tv doesn't even go on at all, feel great. Other days, ugh!!
sohj's Avatar sohj 01:36 PM 04-12-2003
My husband was a total TV junkie for several years when a kid. Now if we go to a restaurant/bar with a TV, he has to sit with his back to it or he gets sucked in. So, no TV at home.

I was raised at the beginning without one b/c we lived so far out that there was no TV signal. Then we had one later. I found shows mostly boring, but did watch a lot of old movies for a few years...went to revival/film buff movie houses, too.

Aside from the zombie thing, I just get bothered that kids spend so much time indoors. A couple of weeks ago I saw a gaggle of nine year old boys together on the street, obviously coming from a b-day party. Most had NO color in their faces (that's including the kids-of-color). I looked at my pixie and realized that he, when he can't even walk, has spent more time outdoors this winter than nine year olds! When I was nine you'd have had to chain me up to keep me in, even when we lived in San Francisco! I was taught street smarts and my mother knew all my friends and their parents (if I met someone new, they had to be introduced and she then introduced herself to the kid's parents) and I spent time OUTSIDE even just on the sidewalk with a jump rope.

I want my child to get his vitamin D the old-fashioned way.

There's plenty of time for more sedentary pursuits, too. I just don't want the numbing kind. My husband and I are planning a model train for our little one. We're trying to fit it into our apartment. I've come up with a way of attaching the tracks to the walls and making one that goes all over the apartment. Part will have a cog rail for the 10 percent grade!!
~Megan~'s Avatar ~Megan~ 02:56 PM 04-12-2003
I don't think TV is inherently bad but I do think other things are better. We have some Baby Einstein videos and dd (10 mons) likes to watch those as she plays. I think she likes the music a lot too. Sometimes when she's upset its an easy way to distract her. We turn it on and dh or I will put her on our lap and talk about what we see.
momatheart23's Avatar momatheart23 03:57 PM 04-12-2003
In college I read a wonderful book called "Amusing Ourselves to Death" I can't remember the author, but it was fascinating about how TV in general affects us in ways we are so unaware of and don't even realize but are so detrimental. Because of that book TV news is never allowed in my house. We get the paper and that is it. I let ds watch 1-2 half hour videos a day, and he watches with my dh at night. When he was first born I was sitting and nursing so much I got in a bad TV habit. Once I realized it I banned all TV while I was home during the day and that helps. In fact when my dh is home on the weekends and turns it on it bugs me.
teachma's Avatar teachma 02:16 AM 04-13-2003
Amusing Ourselves to Death- was it Neil Postman?