Electronics and Children – Part Last?

On Tuesday morning, at the bus-stop, another Mum and I were discussing the effects of tv etc on children. Many people don’t want to hear it, but she and I agreed – unless a parent has compared the difference between their children without (for at least a month) and THEN with electronics, they cannot possibly know for sure that it’s not affecting them. When I read The Plug in Drug by Marie Winn, it was the difference in behaviour  that struck teachers (in particular) when tv became prevelant in homes. The kids were simply not as self-assured and calm (two key signs of maturity and the ability to cope with life). Or as my Mum friend said this morning, “it’s as if, while they’re watching, their brain is being wound up like a spring, and when they stop watching it’s released.”

The boys and I have been reading Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl, and again it is the difference in behaviours pre and post tv which are raised. It’s the contrast, which is important, and you simply can’t see a contrast if they’ve not had a decent amount of time without electronics. And there are many excuses reasons why people might not bother want to remove electronics from their children’s lives.

I’m not going to hammer the point (any more), those of you who agree with me, will; those who don’t won’t. So, this could well be my last post on the topic, and I’ll leave the final (abbreviated) word to Dahl’s Oompa-Loompas…

“…in almost every house we’ve been,

We’ve watched them gaping at the screen.

They loll and slop and lounge about,

And stare until their eyes pop out…

They sit and stare and stare and sit

Until they are hypnotised by it…

Oh yes, we know it keeps them still…

But did you ever stop to think,

To wonder just exactly what

This does to your beloved tot?

…His brain becomes as soft as cheese!

His powers of thinking rust and freeze!

He cannot think – he only sees!…”

If you’re excited about computers in education read this.

(Should you find this article useful, Koha is accepted, $1 is fine. The button is under my blog-roll. :))

About Karyn @ kloppenmum

kloppenmum is me, Karyn Van Der Zwet, mother of three and ex-teacher. I'm part of a revolution in parenting, with the aim to raise mature (not sophisticated) and self-assured children. I also know some stuff about adults. I have also had articles printed in The Journal for The British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy (Children and Young People) and the US parenting magazine, Pathways to Family Wellness, as well I regularly write for World Moms Blog (named as one of the Forbes 100 most useful blogs for women 2012 &2013). You can follow me on facebook (kloppenmum) pinterest (Karyn at Kloppenmum) and twitter (@kloppenmum). I'm also vaguely on LinkedIn (Karyn Van Der Zwet). Thanks to Joe (Mr Hare) for taking the photo. Cheers, son: xxxx.
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24 Responses to Electronics and Children – Part Last?

  1. hakea says:

    Yay those Oompa Loompas! Such wise fellas.

    I drive my kids crazy singing their tunes.

    • kloppenmum says:

      I think I’ll have to learn some of their poems by heart – just to be able to use them when the occasion arises! The Hare’s into chewing gum at the moment…

  2. Elena says:

    We used to live without tv. There are so many compromises I’ve made with my husband that steer my life away from my ideal… but at any rate, I’ve agreed to them, so I have to take responsibility.

    I know that in my own family, my kids will watch a show or two and then I’ll start to get anxious, seeing them slack and braindead on the couch and I’ll holler “That’s enough!” and then they go outside to play. They’ll run, ride bikes, dig, splash in puddles, etc. for a while, and I’ll feel relaxed, like all is well with the world.

    Well, really, all was well with the world in both scenarios, and I don’t know how I could tell the difference in their behavior if I took the tv away longterm because I am so prejudiced against it! 🙂

    • kloppenmum says:

      Ahh, compromise; the art of marriage. Our kids get sent outside too, in the winter it can mean several changes of clothes and a couple of showers each – but that’s OK for me too. 😉

  3. Jane says:

    My two girls grew up without tv for a long stretch of their childhood and in addition to what you’ve said, I think there’s a huge benefit from not being barraged by ads. The constant stream of things they need in order to be cool, have something sweet to eat, be feminine enough, be thin enough etc. is very hard to resist when it comes at you so intensely day after day. I believe that not having tv helped them know who they are, realize what they wanted for themselves.

    • kloppenmum says:

      I totally agree Jane. We know kids from other families, who are about the same age as our older two (nine and five), who won’t leave the house unless they’re in designer clothes and who are already worried about their appearance. I love that our kids are themselves through and through, and are curious about others – not judgemental. We also get enough badgering to buy the latest toys and gadgets when advertising arrives in the mailbox, I’d hate to think what it would be like if there was television advertising to deal with as well.

      • tanoshinde says:

        I never really made the TV connection, but this reminds me of one of the key experiences of my own childhood.

        When I was about eleven or twelve, suddenly my local friends became interested in clothes and dating and rock and all that stuff. I continued to be just a kid, riding my bike around, working at the barn, riding horses, running around outside, and so forth. I went out in just about all weather, and in the evenings I read, wrote, wrote music, worked on art projects, and fiddled around with our computer (on which I developed databases for fun, rather than playing video games, since I didn’t like the video games we had).

        I suppose one of the major differences between my friends (who quickly broke their ties with me, since I wasn’t ‘cool’ and grown-up, like they were) was that I had been raised in a household that both embraced the TV far less than your average American household (to this day, there is only one smallish TV in my Mom’s house, in an out-of-the-way den, inside a cabinet). Somehow, I never connected that with my willingness to remain a kid a lot longer than my friends did, but it makes sense. They were probably in such a hurry to grow up in part because that’s what advertisers were telling them to do.

        My parents also had the presence of mind to teach both of us, from literally as far back as I can remember, to regard advertisements through highly-critical eyes. I think that helped a lot, as well.

        • kloppenmum says:

          Of course, I agree with every word you’ve written! I think often people mistake sophistication and the rush into independence, for maturity. Whereas, in fact, mature kids are actually child-like for longer. For example, living near to us there are some great teenagers (13-16) who are still interested in playing in the mud, building stuff, knocking about on their bikes and climbing trees. They are calm and trustworthy. They aren’t interested in anything which could be called sophisticated, and they don’t own a television. As for advertising, we tell our boys it’s just people trying to suck money out of their pocket! Thanks for commenting. Lovely to hear your point of view. 🙂

  4. The Oompa Loompas were wise beyond their years, no? Too bad my own kids learned about them from the movie…

  5. Li-ling says:

    I had been wondering how your reintroduction was going… we did watch a movie in the cinema a couple of weeks ago and I noticed a much calmer reaction than to tv at home and wondered if you noticed if the surrounding environment ie being out and about made a difference.
    I love Charlie and the chocolate factory!

    • kloppenmum says:

      The re-introduction is going fine, the Hare can certainly manage his stress levels more effectively these days. However, the reaction continues to happen, and that was the point of this post: I think children are always reacting, parents just might not notice it, if it’s ‘normal’ for their kids. I don’t know about differences between cinema and at home, because we removed the whole lot – and haven’t been back to the cinema yet. My understanding is that it is the noise and the tightly spaced and constantly moving pixels which cause the problem, whether those are different for cinema and home screen, I don’t know. I am interested to hear that you noticed a difference though, and yes, I love Charlie and the Chocolate Factory too.

  6. I’ve done both and the kids have been away from TV for long enough to tell the difference. The main things I see if they watch too long in one day, then they are like that spring you mentioned. I do not see long term effects from TV viewing that you read about. I have extremely bright, curious boys who have good balance, etc. I definitely believe in limiting TV but I cannot imagine eliminating it forever. This is one area where a good balance is important. Books, outdoor time, family time should all be deemed more important and worthwhile than screen time.

    • kloppenmum says:

      I’m pleased you’ve not noticed the effects I’ve been reading about, and seen in our kids. In the end, this information is for consideration not dictatorship, and many people haven’t even tried a decent space of time without. We love books, outdoor time and family time too. Thanks for commenting, love that you do. 🙂

  7. I come from a somewhat different background with TV. We had it in the house. We (sibling and I) were not allowed to plop ourselves in front of the TV after school. Our time was filled with other activities, including chores. When we did watch TV, it was in the evening, usually as a family, and most commonly educational shows (I cannot tell you how BORING and/or unentertaining the underwater world of Jacques Cousteau and Wild Kingdom are to a 10 year old! My father simply would not have stood for crap brain-mush TV in his presence! Consequently, my brain cells are still highly functional. lol

    • kloppenmum says:

      Pleased those brain-cells of yours are still highly functioning. I could get into the whole..it’s not what you watch – it’s that you watch discussion…but I’m not going to: it’s just too difficult in the blogosphere to go there, but do pop in for a coffee sometime though, and we can nut it out then. I do agree that there are plenty of other things that children can be doing after school other than being plopped down, as you put it. And I do know plenty of families who swear by the screen time they share together. 🙂

  8. We had Nathan’s first t.v. free day today (in quite some time) we had such a great day together!!! I’m exhausted and I think he is too, and unfortunately its ending with an episode of scooby doo w/ daddy!!!!!!!!!!! However, I think we’re onto a good start with weaning the dependency of television…

    and that oompa loompa song….i’m going to sing it to my husband!

    • kloppenmum says:

      I love that you (nearly) managed a whole day without tv: we have to build in down times for our kids, otherwise they just go hard-out all day, too. Craig took a year to get over the fact that the tv wasn’t on when the kids were up – but once he saw the difference in the kids’ behaviour he was great about it. The Oompa-Loompas are some of my heroes – I get the impression Dahl wasn’t very impressed with the ‘new’ bunch of kids he saw around.

  9. Lauren says:

    I completely agree with you!
    Jensen doesnt watch TV very often, in all honesty, its hardly ever on when he is still awake.

    However, I have definately noticed a difference between his behavious when he has been in front of the TV and when he hasnt!

  10. Pingback: Sunday Surf: What I've learned this week in the blogosphere | Cloth Diapering Mama

  11. I’m glad Cloth Diapering Mama sent me your way! Great post!

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