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06:00 am: The Idiot Box
My parents called the television "the idiot box" when I was growing up.

I see their point.

Ever since I read Susan Thomas' Buy Buy Baby*, I've been thinking about it more and more.

I don't think it's possible - without a great deal of trouble - to avoid TV altogether. Teddy watches less than an hour a day (with very rare exceptions). We've done our best to restrict his viewing to "educational" shows. Other than secondary viewing of an occasional baseball game, the only commercial TV he's seen was on JetBlue (he thinks SpongeBob SquarePants is a cheese).

But even PBS has long "sponsored by" segments at the beginning of each show. And the shows themselves exist primarily to sell merchandise. The profits from some shows (like Sesame Street) go to good causes, but I assume most goes to the bottom line.

I believe that Thomas and Bob and Elmo teach some good stuff, like working hard makes you feel good, teamwork means you can accomplish more, it's important to treat people nicely, and all that good stuff. But do they really teach it? I'm not sure.

And Teddy's first request for the past two mornings (after nursing) has been to watch TV. That depresses me.

* Subtitle: How consumer culture manipulates parents and harms young minds. An excellent, deeply depressing book.

Current Location: Boston
Current Mood: depresseddepressed


[User Picture]
Date:October 11th, 2007 01:51 pm (UTC)
Apparently, though, kids watching shows that show people/things talking and interacting (as opposed to nonsense and swirling shapes) is better than stuff like Baby Einstein, because in terms of language/interaction development, kids learn a lot through mimicry--so, better that they mimic Elmo and Grover than a bad LSD trip?
[User Picture]
Date:October 11th, 2007 02:00 pm (UTC)


And best yet is watching TV with the child, which we do fairly often (though probably not as actively as we might).

We did do some Baby Einstein though. Not daily, but to keep him distracted/occupied while we took showers, did laundry, cooked, or whatever. And that's a legitimate use, I think (hmm... what's better? kid on TV-LSD or kid screaming? I'm not 100% sure, but I know which I can stand!).

But even with our limited viewing and the care we've taken, he still asks for it. Blargh.

Maybe it's more like TV-heroin.
[User Picture]
Date:October 11th, 2007 03:09 pm (UTC)

Re: True

I think if the parents have gone round the bend, it's really hard to raise a kid to be a functional human being--mimicry and all that. Ergo, anything that keeps parents from going round said bend is probably a Good Thing.

I think it's just kind of the eternal kid (boy, human) attraction--Shiny Things that are restricted.

And soon he'll have non-lead-paint thomas engines to distract him.

AND not that you're looking for any other toys for the kiddo, but Toobers and Zots (http://www.neurotoys.com/tooberszots.html) are apparently still being made--I just saw them at the MIT museum; the inventor is this crazy sculptor. I LOVED these when I was a kid.
[User Picture]
Date:October 11th, 2007 06:26 pm (UTC)

OMG! Toobers and Zots!!

They didn't have them when I was a kid, afaik, but I gave them to a gabillion friends' and relatives' kids. I didn't think they made them any more!

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