Thursday, May 8, 2008

The advantages of reducing TV time

I mentioned recently that I finally convinced myself to reduce our Foxtel package, which means we no longer have children's shows available 24/7. Not that our kids used to watch TV endlessly, but it was beginning to be a little too much for my liking. It was a habit I'd gotten into when I was initially diagnosed with CML and the medication was making me quite tired. The advantages of reducing TV time for the kids are beginning to show themselves already.

Despite my (totally unfounded) fears, our household hasn't collapsed and the kids have found plenty to do. Cinderella and Little Mermaid, who spend most of their time at home with me, have been playing lots of games of pretend. They are families going on trips, doctors tending to patients, swimming teachers and princesses. They love to put on a show and dance to their music. The playdough has been making more regular appearances on the kitchen table. They ride their bikes and take our long suffering dog for walks around the back yard. It is so lovely to see their imaginations at work.

I've noticed the greatest changes in The Engineer. Although he was the one that watched the least amount of TV, he seems to be wired in such a way that he is totally absorbed by what is on the screen to the detriment of everything else that is going on around him. He totally zones out. Since he has been watching less television he is much more settled in his play with his sisters and alone. He has become more affectionate. He is sleeping better. When I ask him what happened at school, instead of the usual “I can't remember” response he will now often give me little snippets of his day (I love to hear what he's been doing).

There have been many studies on the effects of too much TV on kids. Cases argued include increased obesity, increased violence, decreased attention and poor academic performance. Of course, the academics are yet to agree whether TV is a major cause of these problems. They may never agree.

In the meantime, as parents, we can observe our own kids and make decisions based on what we see and feel is the right thing for them. My personal experience has been that decreasing TV time has at the very least increased imaginative play, activities using fine and gross motor skills, exercise, attention span and social interactions. This can only benefit the children.

1 comment:

PlanningQueen said...

I wrote a post while back on this issue as I am not a massive fan of TV. I think it has the potential to really stunt children's creativiy and imagination. But it has a role and I think moderation is the key.

BTW - I have a free e-book to download on my my site that you might be interested in called Planning With Kids Top 100 Tips.