P*ssed off at PBS!!!! Talk about propaganda... - Mothering Forums

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Old 04-02-2008, 05:52 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Okay, I had to get this off my chest. As some background info, we have a television set in our house, but it's NOT hooked up for TV channels. It's only for watching DVD's on once or twice a month.

Our daughter qualifies as a head-start student, 'cause my husband and I are income-free right now due to grad school.

So, last night was the head-start school's parent's meeting. Often there will be a presenter at these meetings, to give us in-depth information about organic foods or dental care or home safety or whatever. It's usually pretty informative.

The presenter last night was a representative of PBS, and the subject was ostensibly about children, the media, and violence. The presentation started off well; helpful facts about how the scary stuff out there in the media can be very frightening and confusing for small children. It made me glad DD isn't exposed to it.

HERE'S THE THING. The presenter moved on to talk about how a child needs a happy medium- not too much TV, and not too little. Um, what? At first I thought I hadn't heard her correctly, so I raised my hand and said "But, of course, no TV is also fine for a child, right?"

Nope. Apparently I am letting DD down by not exposing her to PBS's fine programming. The argument used on me was that, when DD gets older, she'll want to connect with her peer group, and she can't do that unless she watches the same shows.

WHAT????? Do I need to let her watch, for example, age-inappropriate horror movies, if that's what her peer group is doing? That is a very dangerous, very foolish line of logic.

I am so angry that I sat through this kind of skewed, self serving, commercial-for-PBS during a government funded school meeting. And I'm even angrier that it's the low income parents like me who are getting this pro-TV message. This is highly debatable, and I don't want to offend anyone, but I feel that low income or no-income parents like me are more vulnerable to this kind of propaganda for two reasons- 1. We are more tempted to use the TV as child-care-relief, since we cannot afford actual back-up care. (I know I'm tempted, anyway. That's why I disconnected the d**n thing.) 2. Low income parents have not all had fair access to higher education, and can therefore be more willing to listen to so-called "experts" who claim to know what's best for children.

We low-income parents just as smart and vigilant as any other parents, but because of these reasons I feel we are the group who least deserves to have this kind of in-your-face TV pushing thrown at us.

Would this have made anyone else mad?
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Old 04-02-2008, 05:59 PM
 
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Good thing we're not living in olden days before tv came along. I wonder how people were able to connect to their peers in those days???




I wonder if there is someone you can complain to about this? That lady had no idea what she was talking about.
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Old 04-02-2008, 06:05 PM
 
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I would definitely complain about that. TV watching is NOT a requirement for a happy, healthy childhood. My family did not own a television set until I was about 12 years old and even then it was black and white and we never had cable; my mother still doesn't even now. I turned out just fine, thanks very much. :

Bethany, crunchy Christian mom to Destiny (11) Deanna (9), and Ethan (2)

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Old 04-02-2008, 06:11 PM
 
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That is very annoying!

I'm not TV free so maybe I shouldn't be here but this caught my eye... I totally share your frustration at PBS's self-righteous holier-than-thou attitude. It's bad enough during their regular blurbs, but they had pledge time recently and they were constantly going on about how dangerous all other programing out there is and how wonderful everything on PBS is for your kid. And it's only thanks to them that my child even knows what Chuck E Cheese is, and talks sometimes about how babies sleep in cribs and drink bottles. :
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Old 04-02-2008, 06:12 PM
 
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I would be sure to complain not only to the preschool administrators, but also PBS. I agree that PBS programming is in general sometimes better than Nick or Noggin, but no tv is still the "best". It reminds me of those "breastfeeding kits" from our "nursing friendly" "experts" over at Enfamil! :
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Old 04-02-2008, 06:13 PM
 
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Oh yeah, dont get me started on the Chuckey Cheese ads on PBS
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Old 04-02-2008, 06:17 PM
 
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I would be livid. Not to mention that it isn't true...because of videos and cable kids are watching all sorts of things, not necessarily the same things. My friend's dd watches BBC kids where they have completely different shows, and some kids watch only thomas videos, etc. Together, they just ... Play!
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Old 04-02-2008, 06:18 PM
 
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Originally Posted by medaroge View Post
I would be sure to complain not only to the preschool administrators, but also PBS. I agree that PBS programming is in general sometimes better than Nick or Noggin, but no tv is still the "best". It reminds me of those "breastfeeding kits" from our "nursing friendly" "experts" over at Enfamil! :
I actually disagree with that statement. At least with Noggin there isn't ANY commercialization (other than the shows themselves that may have product tie-ins.)

I agree with the concept that, if a child is going to be exposed to TV, it should be limited to age-appropriate programs and the total amount of time should be limited as well. But to say that TV is a REQUIREMENT for a healthy childhood?

Definetely complain to both the preschool for hosting the PBS rep, as well as your local PBS station for having their rep give such skewed information over to parents of preschoolers.

Ruth, single mommy to Leah, 19, Hannah, 18 (commuting to college), and Jack, 13(homeschooled)
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Old 04-02-2008, 06:21 PM
 
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That is incredibly crazy!! We're not TV free either but we don't have cable and our kids watch very little tv outside of DVD's that we approve of and somehow my DS still manages to connect to his peer group
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Old 04-02-2008, 07:01 PM
 
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What kind of representative was it - a marketing representative? Maybe not, but I wouldn't be surprised if it was.
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Old 04-02-2008, 08:10 PM
 
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What is most scary about this is that this representative appears to have been there as an "expert" on children and TV. They have presented narrow minded and frankly false information in an expert capacity.
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Old 04-02-2008, 08:12 PM
 
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Nope. Apparently I am letting DD down by not exposing her to PBS's fine programming. The argument used on me was that, when DD gets older, she'll want to connect with her peer group, and she can't do that unless she watches the same shows.
: What a bunch of malarkey.

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I actually disagree with that statement. At least with Noggin there isn't ANY commercialization (other than the shows themselves that may have product tie-ins.)
We don't have cable, so I've not seen Noggin, but imo, the kids' shows that have product tie-ins (i.e., probably all of them) are essentially program-length commercials for products which feature the characters from the show. Research has shown that for the youngest children, TV's only real demonstrable function is to familiarize them with the characters on the screen. (This is dealt with at length in "Buy, Buy, Baby.")

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Old 04-02-2008, 10:17 PM
 
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What is most scary about this is that this representative appears to have been there as an "expert" on children and TV. They have presented narrow minded and frankly false information in an expert capacity.
The rep was there to sell her product, so of course she's going to say it's "necessary".

The Pampers rep certainly isn't going to espouse cloth, KWIM?

Blessed Mama to 4 and expecting one more!
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Old 04-02-2008, 11:08 PM
 
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Silly. I was tv-free and couldn't connect with my peers regarding shows and it didn't warp me or make me feel left out. Why do they think that tv shows are THE way for kids to connect with each other?

If I ever felt upset about not watching tv it was never because of that issue. It was just cuz I wanted to watch some tv. No big deal. I got over it and read or went out to play.

OT: Although, having so much time to be so imaginative was detrimental at times. One night I was really bored and thought it would be hilarious to dress up like some weird animal, mask and all, and I took the axe (wtf was i thinking) outside and stood in front of our huge living room window. Tapped the glass. I am lucky to have survived.

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Old 04-02-2008, 11:59 PM
 
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Ah right. Because conformity is all, and individuality is damaging.
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Old 04-03-2008, 10:42 AM
 
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Hi hatti,

I am an administrator for a Head Start program, and I handle Family Services and Parent Education, among other things. While I don't disagree with your reason for being upset, there are reasons why things are the way that they are.

First, while low income parents are in many ways smarter and more creative in making ends meet than most middle-class families, overall statistics of low income households would point to your TV free house being more of an exception than the rule.

We work with PBS because they supply us with free training for parents and free books for children. The PBS reps we work with train parents on the Ready-to-Learn Triangle, which involves watching a show with one's child, reading a book with one's child, and doing an activity or craft with one's child - all related to a similar theme in order to reinforce the lesson. Of course, the shows/books/activities they recommend are related to things like Clifford, etc, shows on PBS. While the best practice is no TV, when families use the RTL triangle they are doing some things that statistically most parents aren't doing: they are interacting and becoming actively involved in their child's education at an early age, and they are not using the TV as a babysitter. For some of the families I work with, this is a significant improvement in parenting practice.

Besides, I have brought in trainers that have presented things that I did not necessarily agree with. Most times, I make a point of respectfully asking pointed questions of trainers in order to make my point to the parents in attendance. They are, after all, often giving of their time for free on an evening when they could be spending time with their families, so I try to be considerate in making my point. I have no problem with a trainer presenting something I don't think is the best practice, so long as I and my staff are encouraging parents to think critically and take ownership of family and parenting decisions, and develop a love of lifetime learning. Being able to filter through profit-driven motive and bad information is a skill that low income families definitely need, given they are often targeted by credit card companies, payday loan offices, and fast food businesses. They will not develop that skill if Head Start administrators are solely making decisions about what training topics are best for the parents.

On a related note: HS parents have every right to participate in program governance, and should have at least some say in the trainings that are presented even though some training topics are mandated by the Performance Standards. Instead of complaining (which I can assure you your administrators hear a lot), I'd express some concern over that bit of information presented, perhaps have some info ready about how studies have shown that TV/video games has largely hurt children's abilities to develop creativity and imagination, and ask how parents can participate in the process of selecting trainings for parent meetings.

Just my $0.02.

Peace,
Joel
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Old 04-03-2008, 02:00 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Hey Joel- thanks for the input! I checked back through my post, and I noticed that I said absolutely nothing negative in it about Head Start. I'm a big fan, obviously, or I wouldn't be sending my daughter. I don't hold H.S. responsible for what the PBS lady was saying.

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Being able to filter through profit-driven motive and bad information is a skill that low income families definitely need, given they are often targeted by credit card companies, payday loan offices, and fast food businesses. They will not develop that skill if Head Start administrators are solely making decisions about what training topics are best for the parents.
We are just gonna have to agree to disagree here. You're right that critical thinking skills are especially important for me and my fellow low-income mamas to develop. But receiving flat-out false information ("TV is necessary") is NOT going to help us develop those skills.
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Old 04-03-2008, 08:07 PM
 
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I'm sorry, I don't think telling a bunch of low-income (or any, for that matter) parents that your kid HAS to watch some TV or you're going to end up damaging your kid falls into the category of teaching parents critical thinking. That falls into the category of consumerist brainwashing, to me.
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Old 04-03-2008, 08:31 PM
 
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You're right that critical thinking skills are especially important for me and my fellow low-income mamas to develop. But receiving flat-out false information ("TV is necessary") is NOT going to help us develop those skills.
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I'm sorry, I don't think telling a bunch of low-income (or any, for that matter) parents that your kid HAS to watch some TV or you're going to end up damaging your kid falls into the category of teaching parents critical thinking. That falls into the category of consumerist brainwashing, to me.
Ditto, ditto, ditto.

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Old 04-04-2008, 06:38 PM
 
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This is the same argument my ILs have given me about TV: "But when she goes to school, all her friends will be watching Dora the Explorer, and she won't know what they're talking about. She'll feel left out!"

Here's the thing about TV shows...they're not that bloody complicated. My daughter doesn't need a PhD in Dora to be able to figure out that her friends are talking about stories--and if she can follow a book, she can certainly follow a conversation about a linear plot.

The Plug-In Drug actually has a bunch of kids' testimonials on this issues. The kids say that, in most cases, they don't even have to reveal their TV-free status and they can still join in on the conversations about shows. Did I already say this--TV shows just aren't that complicated!

Finally, the rep's response suggests that TV is the ONLY hobby that a child has (which is truly sad). Maybe your dd won't be able to "bond" over TV shows: but I'm sure she'll be able to bond over her love of horses or coloring or trucks or dancing or soccer or cooking or whatever it is that she's interested. Or maybe she'll befriend--gasp!--children who aren't exactly like her. The rep's comments suggest that a child can only make friends with children who are exactly like them.
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Old 04-05-2008, 09:56 AM
 
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Hey Joel- thanks for the input! I checked back through my post, and I noticed that I said absolutely nothing negative in it about Head Start. I'm a big fan, obviously, or I wouldn't be sending my daughter. I don't hold H.S. responsible for what the PBS lady was saying.
Hi hattie,

Since I generally find most of the trainers for parent meetings, I personally feel some responsibility for the information presented. While you did not say anything negative about Head Start, and the PBS presenteer was the one that made the statement, how that information is both recieved and processed by parents who may not have been exposed to any of the research of the negative impacts of TV on a child's education is at least an indirect responsibility of Head Start staff and the parents who participate in program governance.

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I'm sorry, I don't think telling a bunch of low-income (or any, for that matter) parents that your kid HAS to watch some TV or you're going to end up damaging your kid falls into the category of teaching parents critical thinking. That falls into the category of consumerist brainwashing, to me.
No, it doesn't. But neither does shutting out that opinion because you disagree with it, either. That's my point. Critical thinking is modeled when you expose people to various viewpoints and give them the means to critically process what it is they have been told. You don't teach critical thinking when you barr from the discussion every opinion you think is wrong. I had an ethics professor in college who seemed to take delight in destroying the worldview of the kids in the class from fundamentalist/evangelical Christian homes. Towards the end of the semester, he explained why it was so easy for him to do. It was because those kids' parents had spent so much time sheltering them from divergent views, they had no framework to deal with such information. This situation is a parallel. As a staffperson, in this case I would have asked for discussion about the information presented, and any of the major areas of good and bad information I would have re-hashed and asked some questions of the group. Hopefully, from the discussion would come some outloud attempts at critical thinking.
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Old 04-05-2008, 01:45 PM
 
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No, it doesn't. But neither does shutting out that opinion because you disagree with it, either. That's my point. Critical thinking is modeled when you expose people to various viewpoints and give them the means to critically process what it is they have been told. You don't teach critical thinking when you barr from the discussion every opinion you think is wrong.
But presumably there is a selection process for HS presenters, and presumably there is an agenda for 'building healthy kids' (or similar) that HS is interested in promoting. Or does every person with a product or world-view to market to children get equal time with the Head Start audience? In the interest of teaching critical thinking, of course?

In my opinion, the idea that kids must watch television to fit in with their peers is not one that Head Start should be promoting, implicitly or explicitly. I'd be interested in what kinds of critical thinking discussions were held after that presentation, and how the possible commercial agenda of PBS was explored and analyzed to help parents come to their own critically processed decisions.

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Old 04-05-2008, 02:25 PM
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Oh, my. As if "connecting" with a tv-crazed child is even possible. Or desirable.

And this from a woman who is not anti-tv.
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Old 04-07-2008, 06:16 PM - Thread Starter
 
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No, it doesn't. But neither does shutting out that opinion because you disagree with it, either. That's my point. Critical thinking is modeled when you expose people to various viewpoints and give them the means to critically process what it is they have been told. You don't teach critical thinking when you barr from the discussion every opinion you think is wrong.
In response to this, and to another poster who wondered what kind of critical thinking discussions were held after the presentation, (haven't yet figured out the whole double-posting thing) I should have mentioned right off the bat that I was, very literally, the lone dissenting voice at the meeting. There was no discussion, critical or otherwise, of the material after the presentation. That leads me to believe that, except for my hesitant, stuttering, and inarticulate objections, everything presented would have come off as unchallenged fact. And presenting people with something that appears to be a fact does not, in and of itself, lead to critical thinking.

And, I hate to split hairs, but you mentioned barring every opinion that you think is wrong... In this case, I don't just think it's wrong, that TV is necessary to healthy development, it plain old is wrong. Those are the facts of the case. Take Ben Franklin, for example; he was an on-the-ball guy, and he did it all without TV.
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Old 04-08-2008, 12:23 AM
 
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In this case, I don't just think it's wrong, that TV is necessary to healthy development, it plain old is wrong. Those are the facts of the case.

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Old 04-08-2008, 12:42 AM
 
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Originally Posted by hattifattener View Post

And, I hate to split hairs, but you mentioned barring every opinion that you think is wrong... In this case, I don't just think it's wrong, that TV is necessary to healthy development, it plain old is wrong. Those are the facts of the case. Take Ben Franklin, for example; he was an on-the-ball guy, and he did it all without TV.
No kidding!!

ALL the research shows that young kids shouldn`t be watching TV AT ALL before the age of like, what, 3 years? It sounds like that PBS representative was in no way adding any caveats to that effect. And that is just plain wrong, desire for critical thinking or no.
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Old 04-14-2008, 08:04 PM
 
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This reminds me of a quote I heard about MCDonalds being "a part' of a healthy diet. :
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Old 04-14-2008, 08:08 PM
 
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IMO, PBS saying "TV free is best but if you're going to watch TV then PBS is the best choice" is kind of like a formula company saying "Breast is Best but if you need formula our brand is the best." I wouldn't expect a formula company to claim that infant formula was REQUIRED for healthy babies, and I woudln't expect PBS to say that TV watching is REQUIRED for emotionally healthy preschoolers.

I can understand why the Head Start program is willing to work with PBS, but I still think it's irresponsible of the PBS rep to promote TV viewing in that way.

Ruth, single mommy to Leah, 19, Hannah, 18 (commuting to college), and Jack, 13(homeschooled)
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