• Spoiler alert *************
  • This is one of those boring child psychology entries ******

I babysat some sweet little boys today. Reece gets along with them well, but Micah not so much. Reece is more laid back and is pretty happy just about all the time to be with just about anybody. Micah does not like people in his space and is a bit more (read “alot more”) difficult to get to play with kids his own age. We have better luck with kids who aren’t his exact age at least.

Well the older brother Paco, who is the Mexican version of Micah-which is quite eerie, wants so badly to do the things that Micah does. Micah tells him about the video games he plays and you can just see Paco’s eyes light up and you can tell he wants to play too, or at least watch. His mother though is adamant about him not watching TV. Nor playing video games. Nor computer games. His mother has voiced concerns to me once about him not having so many friends and she has legitimate worries about that. He doesn’t play so much with the boys on the street. Which is really sad. As a mom, I feel bad that the boys, mine included, are excluding him, and when we do intervene and get the boys to include him Paco seems to not feel comfortable with them.

Now my wonder is this: Since his mom won’t let him do the same things, watch the same things, experience the same things as our boys, is she alienating him? Does the no TV stance have a direct correlation to Paco’s ability to make friends? Should she let him watch some PBS kids (in English) so he can know about the Clifford the Big Red dog and Ruff Ruffman just like my kids so that they can interact more easily together? He could listen to the language more too since his mother only speaks Spanish in the home. Would it help him fit in more with the other kids?

A parallel issue is that Micah often doesn’t like it when Paco comes over because Paco’s mother won’t let him watch TV and Micah knows I will try to keep the tv off and that bugs him. In my defense, I do try to limit the tv during the day, but they do sometimes get to watch here and there and when they earn enough tokens they are supposed to be able to cash them in for whatever they want on our list of things tokens can buy (TV is on there, and so is Wii, and so are video games as well as other stuff). Earning 25 tokens for Wii takes a while and Micah finished earning them this morning and he really wanted to play Wii and got mad because I couldn’t let him cash in due to Paco and his brother being here. And one of the whole points of us having this token reward system is that we as parents set how the boys earn tokens, but they decide when they can spend them (within reason of course- like no cashing in right before bed time to go to bed later). This way they feel they have some control also over their activities and it isn’t just mom or dad dictating yes or no about everything.

So is TV good or bad? I think in moderation, it is a good thing. I sometimes wish we didn’t have a TV. But the boys do enjoy it and it does help us see what is going on in the rest of the world.

What are you thoughts? To TV or not TV?


Kate March 20, 2009 at 11:18 p.m.

TV=fabulous! Haha, although I don't have kids so you can't take anything I say too seriously. But for a 25-year old single female, tv is divine! :)

Vernon March 21, 2009 at 8:27 a.m.

Since TV is such a huge part of American life (such a sad state of affairs), I do think that it is important that kids get some exposure to it. By some, I mean time-limited and content-limited exposure. While I do find it somewhat annoying that I can't even let them watch half the G-rated Disney movies in our DVD collection because Nathan would start to cry at the intense parts, I am glad I could not take them to go see "Lord of the Rings" in the theater like those kids that were there when I went to go watch. Some parent had their 3- and 4-year old kids in the theater. Eeek.

I really wouldn't mind the TV so much if the producers didn't use it to cash in on kids. I find that to be one of the most sickening parts of the equation. Kids are so vulnerable to advertising and brand loyalty. By brand loyalty, I mean 'Disney Princess' vs. generic princess. Why of why do they have to mess with my kids' heads that way? Well, we all know the answer to that. Money makes the world go 'round.

TV teaches our kids some great things. But I have got to say, some days they read books for longer than they watch TV. They go through books like they are going out of style, which, well, in the sad state of the world is not too far off. And as soon as they learn to read on their own, I think they will be even bigger bookworms.

Gretchen March 21, 2009 at 10:02 a.m.

I REALLY don't know on this one, but I do think that it might be a good idea if she wasn't so strict when her kids are at other people's houses. I mean, within reason. It's NEVER okay if my kids watch something COMPLETELY inappropriate when they're over at someone else's house. But I try to relax a little outside my own home. For example, we were against our babies watching TV. So we didn't do it at OUR house, but we didn't care if a sitter or someone showed a video to them. I have certain even PBS shows I prefer my kids not to watch. Not as much because they're inappropriate, but because I just don't like their approach. But if I find out Claire watched one at a friend's house? I don't worry about it. I think what kids are exposed to consistently over time in their own home is more important than an occasional video game at a friend's house. If this woman feels it's important to ban TV and other media in her home, more power to her. But I think she's doing her kids a disservice but making it totally and completely forbidden ALL the time. Social learning is very important and (unfortunately) we live in a society where it's hard to have "normal" social interactions if you don't speak the language of pop culture.

Ily March 21, 2009 at 10:51 a.m.

So my neighbor does let her son watch up to one hour a day of tv, but she wants it to be when SHE is making dinner and not at any other time. He sure does get glued to the TV if they stop by and we are watching it.

I agree that the content of the tv shows they are watching is very important too. Frankly about all we watch is PBS kids (Ruff Ruffman, Word World, Word Girl, Cyberchase, Bob the builder, Thomas the tank engine... I despise Barney so it isn't allowed in my home) and we watch some shows on Discovery channel too- I love Dirty Jobs and Cash Cab. But we usually don't watch all those shows in one day. We just watch them occasionally when it fits into our schedule. We are usually doing stuff instead of watching tv. Which is what I prefer!

I love what everyone has written so far, I am on the same wavelength with you all. Even my 25 year old single female cousin who says tv=fabulous!