So we’re one of those weird families that doesn’t really watch telly. We’re not even hooked up to the cables so we have DVDs or videos and that’s it. The kids watch about an hour every few days and have about 15 videos to choose from and we don’t watch it at all anymore bar the odd DVD we hire or the odd episode of something inane like Scrubs or OC from Amazon rental! I’m not sounding sanctimonious at all, it’s just not something any of us are that into.
We’re facing a bit of a dilemma at the moment though: although both of the boys can happily play for hours outside or with train track, models or whatever, two things are happening:
1) school, now Gabe has started school he is confused about all the programmes he hears talked about, he can’t understand why we can’t pause the programme while he nips to the loo and why at his friends’ houses endless programmes just keep coming even when the TVs off!
2) when we hire new stuff for the them occasionally from Blockbuster or Amazon, they find it scary. Bear in mind they’ve been watching two episodes of Teletubbies and Thomas the Tank for about 2 years when they do watch it. We got out Heffalumps Halloween (Winnie the Pooh for the uninitiated) and they were terrified! I feel sort of like I’ve failed them, there’s a world out there of scary kid’s programmes, terrifying films and even scarier computer games and they are unprepared for them.
The really interesting thing is that the books (many of them Barefoot Books) we read them are often meant for older children. Drawn from traditional tales from round the world, many of those for older children are on the darker side, often mysterious but these don’t raise an eyebrow.
This, I was assured by Sue Palmer, author of Toxic Childhood, when I met her once, is because verbal information goes in to a part of the brain that can screen so if the information is too much for them, it literally goes ‘over their heads’. Visual images go straight into the front of the brain (my brain anatomy is failing me a bit here – the cortex?) and can’t be screened so are more frightening.
I have to decide now whether to ‘toughen them up’ or be very careful where they watch TV without me. Any suggestions gratefully received!