Friday, October 05, 2007

Talk more, watch less

In the Spring, Panorama ran a documentary which demonstrated the improvement in behaviour children exhibit when their exposure to television is reduced. It was quite scary, and it made us take a look at how much time Boris, Norris and Doris were spending each day watching the thing. It was too much - and we've cut down, and we reckon that it has led to a certain calming amongst out more exuberant offspring!

Recently when I exercised the parental prerogative and reached for the 'off' button (the "it's not fair" button) the kids claimed that they were now 'bored'. This of course indicates the extent to which the wretched tube, sucks their creative spirit, and will result in more extensive use of the off-button, not less.

What followed was brilliant though! Boris and Norris had overheard an edition of Radio 4s "I'm sorry I haven't a clue" and Boris was especially taken with the word-game they play in which they construct a sentence, each player submitting a single word and trying not to be the one to end it.

This lead to uproarious laughter as the sentences got more and more surreal. We ended with, "Once upon a spring there was a large potato which has nothing to do with spoons!". With this, both boys up-ended themselves with laughter, rolling with fits of uncontrollable giggles which made their sides hurt. The rest of the game was abandoned in the ensuing chaos.

When was the last time that watching TV was that much fun?


Lins Honeyman said...

I agree. Having said that, there is some great TV out there that is imaginative, mind-expanding and worthy of being watched by children (and adults!)

I guess it's all about being selective. Love a bit of family viewing!

Endlessly restless said...

You've just given me an idea for our imminent holiday - although I'm not sure that Dolly D will co-operate.

Anonymous said...

You mean Chucklevision ?

His Girl Friday said...

Agree about the behavior influence, although as Lins said, there are programmes out there that are beneficial, as well as could promote family discussions.
( I have to check what my youngest watches on the Disney channel as I don't agree with some of what they teach/promote)

...ER, let me guess, yours is a teen!

That Hideous Man said...

HGF - No mine much younger than that! The research that the programme showed, reckoned that it wasn't so much the 'quality' of TV that did the damage as the 'quantity'!!

It wasn't that they were directly importing the values from the shows into real life, more that excess Tv stimulation damaged their social interaction, made them less calm, more restless, and more aggressive. The suggestion was that the high/speed/content stimulation of the essentially passive mind delivered by TV (esp kids TV) can interfere with healthy psychological development.

This was thought to be especially dangerous to the under-5s whose minds are in such a delicate formative state.

Anon - you're better staying that way.

Endlessly Restless - have a good holiday!

Lins - I'd love to read your list of top-ten, "imaginative, mind-expanding, and worthy" family viewing!

Final comment: hard-sell advertising aimed at little children gives me the creeps, it's just so sinister.

His Girl Friday said...

Hi HM,
First, my youngest is 10,...they do grow soooo fast!!!!

I think overall television is harmful. Quantity, for the things that you mentioned, but also in what is being taught to our children whether it's the programme itself, or the advertisements inbetween. As you mentioned, 'sinister'...hopefully this following quote will not give the appearance that I'm over-reacting; I'm just concerned for our youth...

"The rank and file are usually much more primitive than we imagine. Propaganda must therefore always be essentially simple and repetitious. The most brilliant propagandist technique will yield no success unless one fundamental principle is borne in mind constantly... it must confine itself to a few points and repeat them over and over."
- Joseph Goebbels, Nazi Propaganda Minister

A Favorite blogger of mine, addresses some of the concerns for youth/people in his series, The Death of Character.
I've been trying to find blogs that discuss what you, ER, and this other blog have regarding issues affecting integrity, character, faith, healthy cognitive/emotional development...perhaps maybe in some way to affect a difference!

Lins Honeyman said...

Agree with all the above.

Maybe not a top ten but here's some the programmes that set my mind racing as a kid:

Doctor Who
The Box Of Delights
Huckleberry Finn
Knight Rider (ok - I admit mainly for the turbo boost!)
The Baker Street Boys
Animal Magic
Take Hart
Jackanory (most memorably with Kenneth Williams and Rik Mayall)

Today, Doctor Who (and its spin off The Sarah Jane Adventures) is better and more mind expanding, thought provoking, funny, poignant and exciting than ever.

SMART is one of the best creative resources for kids out there and Blue Peter still seems to educate kids on a wide variety of topics when they're not swizzing them about the name of a cat!

Tracy Beaker tends to prompt children to think about difficult issues and Best of Friends is a fun example of how kids can learn to work together to achieve their goals.

When all is said and done though, back in the day you couldn't beat a bit of Willo The Wisp followed by stuffing down your tea and rushing outside to play football before it gets too dark!

Steg said...

Would love to tell you all that as a result of not owning a TV I have uniformly beautifully behaved children. Sadly this is not the case, though I suppose they might be worse if we had a tv..........They do both have quite good imaginations, though I think this has more to do with their tenuous grip on reality than anything else...