It’s been a while since I talked about TV-free kids, so let me run a recent experience by you all for a reality check:
Last week, I was helping set up a school book fair along with some other parents. Our collective children were all happily playing together on the school playground in the gorgeous spring-like weather. When we had finished, we decided to stay a little longer to let them play in the lovely warm weather.
For an unknown reason a parent decided to pop a Blue’s Clues video into the VCR. Right away the kids somehow heard it, smelled it like dogs, or sensed the change in electromagnetic activity emanating from the building. Within a minute or two there were three kids, then five, then eventually all the kids (including mine), sitting mesmerized, mouths agape, in front of the TV. No one seemed to notice. I was amazed at the children’s reaction, yet no one else SAW!
Finally, I couldn’t stand it any longer, so I quietly told my two that if they were just going to sit inside on this beautiful day watching videos we would go home. They protested but I insisted (it was probably one of those eye-rolling, “oh Mom, how embarrassing” and “you’ve scarred me for life” moments for them). The other adults then seemed to finally realize that all the kids had gravitated indoors, and the parent who had started the video said: “It IS a lovely day” and turned it off. The kids ran back outside and continued their happy play.
OK, we have no TV reception at home. Living in the Arizona wilds, if you don’t have cable or satellite, you don’t get ANYTHING. Even the best antenna won’t get you any local Phoenix or Tucson channels. My kids are allowed to watch videos from time to time, but they hardly ever request them. When we go away they are allowed to watch TV (in limited doses) at the hotel. I do not think that the TV is “The Big Evil Box” that their innocent eyes may never regard, Satan’s tool and all that. I am not radical about this, however I do think that at home (or at school, especially on a gorgeous Spring day), there are better things to do than to watch TV.
Blue’s Clues is a fine show, but I believe that kids should play, use their imaginations, draw pictures, read books, exercise their curiosity…act like kids! They don’t need a TV to magnetically draw them in. They don’t need toys that talk and flash at them and tell them how to use them (but that is another topic for another day).
I hope I don’t sound stuffy or “fuddy-duddy.” I didn’t mean to cause an “incident.” But what is the magical attraction of the TV? I don’t know. Do you?