Sunday, December 31, 2006

New Year's resolutions: But first a word from our sponsor

Sometimes your resolve just isn’t strong enough, and a resolution is in order ...

Dear Ittybit,

All the books say BABIES should NEVER under ANY circumstance watch TV before they are the age of two. NEVER!!!! And while there are ample studies to show early television viewing is rewiring our kids for the worse, new studies are showing we parents are using it more and more.

And so it is with complete mortification that I add the bane of the 20 and 21st centuries to the list of colossally bad parenting skills I’ve adopted in raising you: Television is sometimes your babysitter.

Your first friend — Elmo (who you quickly jilted for Ernie, and then Clifford, and now Curious George) — knocked on the door asking if you could come out to play when you were only one. I let him in.

While I hated his syrupy cloying voice, his insane giggle and his megalomaniacal insistence on referring to himself in the third person, I loved that with him around I could unload the dishwasher, fold laundry or use the bathroom in peace.
When you were sick, he comforted you. When you were sad he cheered you. When you were done with him, you moved on.

Did I teach you to be fickle, too?

Sure, there are a lot of hazards one might surmise that might come from television viewing, the least of which include eye strain and an insufferable urge to pester parental units into purchasing a veritable fortune of otherwise forgettable merchandise.

The television can literally kill them. This is not a joke.

On average, according to the Consumer Product Safety Commission, six children die each year as a result of televisions falling on them and thousands more are injured from falling furniture. Not surprisingly, 85 percent of the parents whose children were injured in this manner didn't know it was possible.

Let's face it, although serious and tragic, few of us parental unit-types are worried about a 40-lb hunk of plastic, metal and glass flattening our kids.

We're concerned with whether television viewing will lower your IQ while increasing your waistlines and violent tendencies.

According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, however, we're also worried about whether we'll have to miss Sopranos because of Sesame Street.

And to that end, we're putting television in our kids' rooms so we can watch our shows.

This just makes me want to throw out our TVs ... All seven of them.
Some, like your dad, blame their adult television addictions squarely on the shoulders of their parents, or more accurately their upbringing, which forbade television viewing early on and restricted it later in their development.

Yet, your father takes pride in his resourcefulness in overcoming the boundaries keeping him from pre-teen zombification — ruses which included writing a lengthy, scholarly paper to plead his case on "Why I Should be Allowed to Watch Television for the Good of My Education" and fashioning a replacement cable when his mother removed (and hid) the power cord while she was at work.

I imagine you will have some of his talent in this area when you grow older, Ittybit.

I, on the other hand, hail from a family of television connoisseurs — hearty people who relished every second of "Barney Miller," "St. Elsewhere" and "My So Called Life." Our television set was on non-stop whether anyone was watching or not. Oddly enough, television doesn't often hold my interest. I find myself turning it on as background noise so I can safely get lost in the warm glow of my computer. The computer, as you know, is my addiction.

The truth is, neither of us is good at pulling away from any form of media once our interest is caught, be they magazines, books or even the mail. ... But we're working on it, I promise.




Mrs. Harridan said...

Ours was a VERY pro-TV household, but now I do try to limit my consumption. I tend to get lost in Law & Order marathons until I snap out of it and reach for a book.

My mom has only worsened over time: she now has the TV on (sometimes upstairs and downstairs, if she's moving from one level to another in the house) constantly, and she cannot sleep without its warming glow.

That said, I think the shows you're letting Ittybit watch are sort of educational, anyway, so it's not totally harmful.

And now I think I need a flat panel before I have a toddler.

lildb said...

struggling so hard with this issue right now (internally, that is).

your post has lightened the load of guilt somewhat.

(until I forget your words and the guilt comes stomping back and leaps onto my shoulders again.)

the mad momma said...

fighting the tv monster hard. i dont watch tv anymore and the only time it comes on is when the husband comes home. and then the Brat watches tranfixed because its such a novelty! i dont know how much longer we will last out before he begins to insist on watching.

Happy Tinfoil Cat said...

A couple years ago we got so annoyed with the cable company we disconnected /gasp/ for a year. After a few weeks of Spongebob withdrawal things improved greatly. We played board games as a family, children read books, the silence was truly golden.

But I have to have my hour of BSG or I will simply die. I try to keep it on the Discovery channel now and secretly delete Happy Tree Friends from the TiVo.