TV… Mother’s Helper or the End of Civilization?

Oh, sorry, was that a bit melodramatic?  Since JavaBoy’s birth nearly 5 years ago, I have been hounded by articles and (ironically) tv reports about how bad television is for children.  I actually used to completely darken the screen of the tv set when JavaBoy was an infant and I was trying to nurse or feed him in the wee hours of the night but needed the TV set to help keep me awake so that his little brain wasn’t exposed to the constantly changing images for fear of the increased risk of ADD.  (The sheer insanity that post-partum hormones and Parenting Magazine can cause is fodder for another post.)

Slowly the Baby Einstein series was allowed, as was a video I came to hate because JavaBoy loved it way too much, Baby Moves, (drat, I can now hear all the puppet dialogue in my head again just from typing its name!)

Then I became pregnant with JavaGirl, and when you are puking your guts out and have a toddler, sometimes the TV set is all you have, my friend.  Our repetoire expanded to include The Wiggles, Blues Clues, and then some PBS shows started to creep in as well.  My best friend was pregnant as well, and we both swore to ourselves that this TV watching habit would stop as soon as the babies were born.

Uh, yeah.

So I’m not the perfect mom.  I do try to limit their TV time and I am strict as to what they watch and I do watch much of it with them as often TV time is during “the Daddy hour” — that dreaded last hour of the day when I’ve lost my pep but Daddy isn’t home — so I’m in the kitchen, getting dinner ready, and they are in the family room, where I can see them, watching a PBS show.  I am now as addicted to Fetch! with Ruff Ruffman as my son.

So every year, partially out of honest conviction, and partially just to prove to myself that we are indeed capable of it, I like to participate in National Turn Your TV Off Week (this year it begins April 20) — and I had been planning on blogging about that in a few weeks, but I kept seeing ads for JuiceboxJungle popping out at me on Facebook and I thought I’d check it out.  It’s a parenting show/blog with different topics and lo and behold, one of the topics is about kids and watching TV.  And what I liked about it was that it took a nice, moderate approach rather than the usual preachy/screechy one most articles and reports take.  (Because, seriously, I used to BE a television reporter and anchor, and I’d never have produced such haughty stories as I see on today’s news about parenting AFTER becoming a parent — maybe as a young, single who didn’t know better…)

More parenting videos on JuiceBoxJungle

It’s nice to finally see someone else take the same stance I’ve come to find in my own parenting — most things, in moderation — are fine. 

(By the way, speaking of moderation, note that in their report, 50% of the parents would be willing to give up alcohol rather than TV!  I found that to be an interesting statistic as I would never even link the two!)

As we rapidly approach JavaBoy’s fifth birthday next week, I can laugh at my concerns. I do believe there is truth to the statistics — and I still believe in limiting screen time of all kinds (TV, computers, games) — but this kid who was allowed to watch TV while Mommy was puking her guts out, has turned out pretty darned well and his sister is no slouch either. Perhaps even criticism of parents should be doled out in moderation as well? Do you think the media will listen to that?

Will you take the challenge, the week of April 20, to turn off the TV?

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