Tuesday, February 16, 2010

TV is NOT the Enemy

Yes, I said it. TV really is not the enemy. But before we get to that--the intro...

New to the Life is Therapy series? Here's a quick blurb to tell you what it's about:

Sometimes we parents can get bogged down in the notion that the teaching of our children must be done by professionals. Parents of children with special needs are particularly vulnerable to this idea since children with special needs often have to learn and develop quite differently than children with typical needs. This series centers around the idea that learning can and does occur most effectively through everyday life experiences at home and out in the community--for children with both typical and special needs.

I know. I know. There are all kinds of studies out there that say that tv viewing is bad for children. I completely agree that plopping your child down in front of the tv (no matter what the program) for loads of unattended time is not good. Watching Baby Einstein videos alone will not make your baby an Einstein.

But TV and video viewing can be a great time for you and your child to interact and learn about things outside your world and even take a different look at everyday things around you. This is true whether your child is 4 or 40. The important part of the equation is you. Join in your child's tv/video viewing. Talk about what you see on the screen. Talk about your values. Talk about how you would have done things differently or the same as the characters. Act out the different character's parts together with your child. TV/video viewing can be a great bonding time.

Jack is a late talker. He is still trying to figure out how to tell the rest of us the many thoughts that are floating around in his head. His DVDs have been a great springboard to communication and a better understanding of the words he has been saying. When a triangle is on the screen and Jack says "Try ay kul", the light bulb goes on and suddenly that word he's been saying makes sense!

Children in the early stages of talking often have difficulty holding conversations because they don't know what they are supposed to say. They have to think about what you said, think of the words they need for a response, and then get their muscles working together just right to form the words that are needed. Playing out the storylines from videos are a great way for children to practice turn-taking speech. One of the hardest elements of conversations has been eliminated--coming up with the words. It's predictable. They know what you are gonna say and they know what they are supposed to say. It's a confidence builder and a great way for a child to learn to practice waiting for the other person to take their turn in conversation.

Instead of bemoaning your child's love of that flashing box, try joining them for a bit and see where it takes you.
Recent Life is Therapy Posts can be found at:
Try Something Old
Know When to Stop
The Grocery Store
For more Life is Therapy Posts, check out the left side bar.

Now it's your turn to participate. This is where we share our ideas and stories with one another. We're all in this together. Let's laugh together, motivate one another, and stimulate each others ideas. If you have a blog, create your own "life is therapy" post and link to the specific post in the Mr. Linky below. If you don't have a blog just leave a comment with your life is therapy story.


mommytoalot said...

That's so true. I feel the same way. We don't use the t.v. as a babysitter but rather as a learning tool. OK truthfully at times it is used pacify my kids..but we still talk about it...Abby and C love Cinderalla..and they talk about princes..and princesses..and why are people mean...and matching slippers..it's all great fun..
Good post.

Momisodes said...

I am so glad you posted this. I feel the same way. My daughter has actually gained quite a bit from TV. I don't see anything wrong with it if it is used properly and not abused.

sheila said...

We let our kids watch a lot of tv when they were little. I don't see any harm in it. Mostly educational type fun stuff. Lots of singing, etc. Mine grew up just fine. Inc fact they are all very smart.

When things are presented to them in a fun way and visually appealing and attention holding...why NOT let them watch?

Mary @ Parenthood said...

Heh - I feel conflicted about this. 90% of parents do allow regular TV viewing before children are two despite all the advice and all the handwringing is a bit confusing. I summarized some of that TV watching-advice last year before Elizabeth was born and at that time we thought - no problem; we'll just avoid TV.

But I agree that there is a ton of stuff out there that really can help with the learning and interacting. It's also hard for us to know where the line is between TV & computer (and given my and my husband's lines of work it's completely impractical to expect Elizabeth to avoid computers until 2)

So we're more relaxed about it now. In any case, during the Olympics all rules are off!

Sarah said...

I agree with you, TV can be a great tool when you take the time to be involved with your child's viewing. I like to try to find recipes or projects we can do that are related to the shows we watch.