I’m so excited to introduce you to Guest blogger Laura who, in her post below, is addressing a dilemma that I know I have struggled with. Poppy has spent the majority of her life not watching any TV at all. This isn’t necessarily by design, it just happened that the rooms that she played in didn’t have TVs. We have however been guilty of popping the iPad in front of her in the dead of night when it seems the only thing that will bring her back from the depths of despair is Peppa Pig.
Recently we hooked up a TV in the play room and I was genuinely surprised at the quality of childrens TV. Granted there are some truly terrible programmes – Paw Patrol (Nick Jnr) is just dire – but Mr Tumble (CBeebies) addresses diversity and disability seamlessly. (I secretly love Ben & Holly’s little kingdom (Nick Jnr) and will watch it even if Poppy is completely uninterested!).
So here’s what Laura thinks…
Laura Affleck is a freelance writer, living with her boyfriend, daughter and cat in the beautiful Leicestershire countryside. She is allergic to a day spent doing nothing, and so fills her time with writing, volunteering for various local organisations and dancing like a crazy lady to pop songs with her daughter. By the evening, she loves nothing more than settling down to a comforting episode of Marple, washed down with a glass of wine or two. Laura blogs about personal development and parenting at www.lauraaffleck.com.
My name is Laura and I let my daughter watch television every day. There, I said it!
I don’t think I have one friend who would be surprised by this or think it very unusual, so why do I feel that there is still a stigma attached to admitting it? Whilst I don’t deny that the critics could be right- that too much television-watching could result in obesity, a lack of social skills and exposure to inappropriate material – my personal view is that TV can be very good for children – not to mention a godsend for exhausted parents! Here are my reasons:
TV exposes Izzy to a world she has yet to experience. We are a white, middle class, British family living in rural Leicestershire; this description could fit pretty much everyone who lives within 5 miles of us. Watching TV allows her to ‘meet’ children of different races and religions and other people whose views, interests and daily lives are different to hers. One day she will get out there and experience all the world has to offer, but until then I think that watching shows such as Something Special and My Story is a gentle and informative introduction to the wider world.
TV encourages new interests. Izzy loves shows like Melody, I Can Cook and Mr Bloom’s Nursery. With Melody, she listens to classical music which evokes birds soaring through the air, then she insists that I swoop like a lark as she plays a similar tune on the iPad; she watches kids making vegetable curry and blueberry muffins and 3 hours later our kitchen is a flour-bombsite; Mr Bloom teaches her how to plant and care for runner beans, then Izzy insists we set up cane wigwams on our own little patch of earth.
TV is educational. Hardly a day goes by when Izzy doesn’t spout an amazing fact she has learnt from watch Nina and the Neurons or Get Well Soon. Yesterday it was, Mummy, did you know that the sun is a star not a planet? I think that’s pretty good for a four year old. At her age, shows like Alphablocks and the Numtums hold more interest for her and genuinely help her to understand letters and numbers more easily.
TV is fun and relaxing. As an adult sometimes all I want to do is slump in front of the television while I recharge or wind down. Kids are no different; TV helps Izzy to relax and zone out after a hard day’s playing, learning, interacting and running wild. And what is wrong with that?
I do think that as a parent I need to monitor what Izzy watches – for example, she usually only watches CBeebies because there are no adverts and I like the quality and variety of the programmes – and I must be prepared to follow up on Izzy’s TV viewing. By talking with her about what she has learnt, buying her a book about space, looking through the cookbooks for that perfect muffin recipe or getting our hands dirty in the garden, I am developing her knowledge and understanding, and building upon what television has started.
I think that if all Izzy ever did at home was watch TV, then I would probably end up with an incommunicative zombie by the time she was ten. But, so long as my daughter is getting outside, meeting other children and adults, being active and interacting with her family and friends, I don’t believe an hour or so of TV a day will hurt her.
What are your thoughts? Do you allow your children to watch TV?