Tuesday, July 18, 2006

To TV or not to TV, that is the question?

Okay, I need some of you to weigh in here. We have lived without cable for most of our lives and then in December we got Dish network. I love HGTV so it has been awesome for me.
Here is the dilemma. I am not sure I love seeing the impact of Disney channel on my 10 year old. Her whole life has begun to revolve around the characters of these ubiquitous tween shows. Some of this is normal "girl-of-her-age" behaviour but it seems a little extreme. We have limits about how much can be watched etc...but all of her friends are also watching these shows and so their conversations revolve around episodes etc also.

So, we are asking these questions:

1.Do we get rid of dish and go back to the standard 5 channels - which essentially leaves nothing for Michaela to watch because she is too old for PBS kids and too young for most anything else on evening TV.

2.Do we ditch the TV completely and go TV-free. (Both David and I could do this fairly easily)

And here is the bind...

1. We do not want to appear "holier than thou" and out of touch with reality to our kids and make them resent our lives based on something like TV.....(okay, so now are we Amish..)

2. We do not want to be so far removed from our culture that we do not have connecting points with people.

3. Is Michaela showing regular behaviour that we do not recognize because of cultural differences in how we grew up in South Africa and how kids grow up here. Is it normal to have several lines from several episodes memorized and be able to quote them at any given moment. Is it normal for her and her friends to spend hours talking about these shows, their characters etc etc.....

Our primary concern is not making our kids happy or having them like us. We will do what it takes to make the best life choice for them. It's hard to know which choice that is...

Help me people...


Stoned-Campbell Disciple said...

My family has wrestled with this issue too. We have decided that we will not go totally TV free. However we only watch a couple hours total in a week . . . except when it is football season.

We have found alternatives for family entertainment. Thursdays are "breakfast for dinner and game night" at our house. Monday night we have what we call family movie night (which is when the tv is one most of the those couple of hours). We have watched some classics (Absent Minded Professor; Swiss family Robinson; Davy Crocket; Herbie and Lord of the Rings among others). We even read books together as a family.

In my view even the commercials are getting to be so sex saturated that I can hardly stand it. Those TAG deodorient commericials should be rated NC-17 at best.

Sorry to have let off in your cyberspace.

Bobby Valentine
Stoned-Campbell Disciple

5 Johnson Kids said...

Okay, so you probably don't want the opinion of a homeschooling, mother of 5, ministry family, mental health counselor, right wing conservative evangelical Christian. . . but, here goes.

We have not had any tv or cable for about 12 years now. But, we have a netflix subscription and are true movie lovers. Movies impact my therapy, how Mike preaches, and how we interact with our neighbors.

The kids watch no tv, but get to see a movie a week, sometimes two if I'm way stressed out and need a break.

I see a direct relationship between the amount of media my kids consume and their attitude about adults. The problem I see, beyond the sex saturated nature of media, is that most "kid friendly" media presents the message: "kids know more than the idiot parents/adults in their lives. All good stuff that happens to kids happens independent of adults, and all the courageous, smart, funny, and interesting people are your peers."

When my kids, Sasha especially, spend too much time with tv at a friends how or movies at home, I see an immediate reaction on her part that is basically an attitude of: "Now, who were you again and exactly why should I listen to you?" Not so fun.

So I go back and forth between locking them in a closet forever and trying to impact their worlds more profoundly than media does. It's true you can obviously have great conversations about what they watch, but it doesn't undo the fact that they have input the message permanently somewhere in their very sponge like little brains.

Ok, enough for now. Thanks for the question and for being in the struggle along side of me.


Dana said...

It seems to me, working in a university setting, that it is a unique aspect of culture these days to be able to quote lines from favorite movies with friends. It used to be that favorite lines or sayings from classics were the tag lines people used but now it is movies or TV shows. I'm not saying that Friends is classic entertainment but how many times have I said the line How YOU doing!

I totally understand your dillema. We did without cable all the time our girls were growing up. I'm not sure about Angela but Adrienne thought she was the most deprived kid at school. They survived. Even so, both of my girls can spout lines from their favorite movies at the drop of a hat. Some meals were spent shooting those lines back and forth and rolling with laughter.

So memorizing lines from shows and movies seems to be normal. My suggestion, as one who is looking at child raising from the back side now, is to be cautious of what your children see, watch what they watch and read what they read as much as possible, communicate frequently about what they have seen or read. I think that is what will help them learn to discern the good and bad of media on all sides.

Good luck. It's a tough decision and one where you won't always be too popular at home. You are good parents though and I think Michaela will take that with her no matter what comes her way.


we saw that... said...

what you will find is that a lot of time the commercials that they run during these shows are more evil than the programs themselves (this is true with all networks and all shows). ~thats how they get you~