Gypsy's Travels

Thursday, May 22, 2008

From the Memory Box - "Children and TV"

"I remember your saying 'If I could figure out how to hook up an exercise bike to the TV, I would do it!'"

Yes, this was an oft repeated lament. I was one of those mothers who was always shooing children outside to play. That is difficult when the summers are so hot and humid. We had only one TV and it was in the family room. Children sneaked in at every opportunity, turned it on with the sound down low, and lazed around until I discovered them. I figured if the TV were hooked up to run off an exercise bike, they would either get more exercise or watch less TV.

There were also restrictions on what they could watch. Besides the usual no-nos, I outlawed such shows as "The Flintstones." That Flintstone woman was always putting her husband down, making him look incompetent and foolish. It was a message I didn't want washed into my children's brains. I was well aware that several programs that were banned at our house, were viewed at the friend's homes. My thinking was that the children were conversant with the programs so they did not feel left out at school, but they realized there was something wrong with those programs since they were not allowed to watch them at home. We talked about them, but it was never a very important conversation to any of us. TV was just not that important. Only rarely did we ever watch it during our meals, and that was because it was something of particular interest. They never had TVs in their rooms, so that was not an issue.

My ultimate and, in my opinion, most successful plan was that each child could watch 30 minutes of TV, under the same common rules (no violence, etc.). If they wanted to watch an hour long show, they had to negotiate with the others for a combined time. It seemed to work and the different ages had little interest in watching the older or younger ones programs so viewing time was decreased overall.

So what was the long-range effect? I only know that for my grandchildren, TV is a special dispensation.

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