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Not educational for 1 year olds.

12:39:00 PM DC Daddy's Wine Time 0 Comments Category :

It's happened. Even though we talked about it not happening until she was at least somewhere between her 2nd and 3rd year. Yet, slowly but surely, we fostered an addiction of sorts that engenders immediate and violent outburst when the fix is taken away. It's not that we didn't see it coming but it was so easy, in the beginning, to let it happen. A little bit here, a little bit there- a little something to keep her occupied while I made breakfast.

However, after a series of fully understood and preventable steps that lead back into the shadows from where we first started, we have arrived at a "situation". We remembered how we said this has to stop or that has to end or we're gonna have to curb that a little bit before it's too late. Yet, here we are in the present and in a predicament that can only be fixed by a drastic and abrupt change. Let me be clear, no one's life is on the line, here, but the fate of a still developing brain may be.

Yes, my daughter (and probably your child, too) has not only become enamored of the moving pictures the TV yields, she has also started to respond (correctly I might add) to the content contained therein. Her laughter and reactions to the Minions, Peg+Cat and even Sid the Science Kid (I hate that fucking show) are cute and oft times captivating to watch, but I know it belies something far more sinister beneath the surface. Even more, our little kindle device has become a miracle working silencer, a pacifier and a crutch (to her parents) in dire situations.

You're probably thinking, 'Yo Daddy! You're overreacting. Chill out! A little TV isn't going to spoil the brain too much in the long run.' And, you're probably right about the "too much" part, but there are other developmental problems we haven't considered, yet. Furthermore, I can't help being suspicious and slightly appalled by the blank slack-jawed stare that takes over after the cute laughter and interesting facial expressions taper off.

While the jury is still out on exactly how much excessive or even small doses of daily TV watching wire a developing brain, as you guessed, there doesn't seem to be any benefits for children under a certain age. A few of the articles I found online herehere and here all stated that infants and young toddlers don't learn anything from watching TV, even if it is educational. Furthermore, the shapes and fast moving images, that are not usually representative of reality, may trigger genetic tendencies for ADHD and disrupt attention span development for the future. Exposure to excessive amounts of TV, at this early age of development may also delay language as babies tend to "acquire more language" skills "from real people" (personal anecdote here: my baby was saying "thank you" all the time, half the time incorrectly, and also mimicking other sounds up until two and half weeks ago. Now she doesn't do that so much anymore but she sure as hell begs for the TV all the time and the kindle, when she sees it. Coincidence? Maybe..). What children really need to do is interact with the environment, picking things up, putting them down and banging things together, even if that means creating a huge mess in the kitchen while you're cooking or cleaning.

"In fact, there have been numerous studies that show that young children learn better from people than from television.  Barr & Hayne, in their study “Developmental changes in imitation from television during infancy” showed that children under 2 years learned better and were able to replicate or imitate live people better than they could people they observed on television."
(from the 3rd website posted)

Now, before we go jumping to conclusions, I believe all three of the articles I'm posting here and the several others I read but am too lazy to find, stated that more research is needed. Also, top-notch educational programming has seen positive results for kiddies over the age of two. So don't feel guilty about plopping your already talking toddler down infront of Sesame street while you hide in the bathroom or sneak food in the kitchen. And, to reiterate in unequivocal terms, you're not going to turn your child into a vegetable or a raging spaz with the attention span of a goldfish if you dump them infront of the TV from time to time, even if it is a possibility. However, if the TV has been part their routine for a week or more, expect a backlash. Wouldn't you know it, but those little bastards thrive on routine and if you change their routine, especially the part of it that dumps happy chemicals in their brains, they're gonna let you know about it.

Right now, you're probably thinking to yourself Fuck, I just found this awesome way to distract my tiny tyke and now you're telling me I have to stop using this miracle drug? Wtf, man. Wtf.

Listen, some of the articles suggest that you can mitigate the negative effects of TV watching on a developing baby's brains if you're sitting there with them and engaging them in conversation about the images on the screen. Sounds great! I suggest you try it. I have and it was fun for a few minutes but I only have so much energy to devote to the mind-numbing fun of Thomas the Tank Engine. And, let's face it, the reason you plopped them down infront of the idiot-tube in the first place is so that you could do something like cook, clean, or take a shit, unmolested, for several minutes. I think your best bet is to only turn the damn thing on when you absolutely need it (like when you want to surf the web in peace while relieving yourself of that excreta you've been holding in for the past 30 minutes), and just be a more engaging parent. Think of it as a job you should want to do well- there's just no paycheck in it. If you want or need to have something on in the background that isn't nauseous kiddy music, download some podcasts and listen to those. When the weather is good, go outside.

Too make a long and rambling article short, I have not lost hope. Like I said, it is nearly summer. This current love of electronic devices can be stifled and the outdoors can still be her wonderland. Nothing can truly beat falling down stairs at the park, eating a face full of mulch and having one of those things she loves (dogs) lick her face just after it has licked its ass. Yes, the outside has plenty of wonders.

Unless we're trapped on a delayed train again in the near future. Then I will, once again, return to my "crutch" and let her zone out.. For my own sanity.


Disclaimer: I apologize for my unprofessionally quoted material- it has been too long since I had to write a properly sourced and quoted paper, and I just don't want to waste my precious time to do it now. Just assume that most of the two paragraphs with technical information were an amalgamation of the three sites I posted and some of my own previous knowledge on the topic... Uh, so.. Mostly it came from those three sites. Truth is, if you follow parenting blogs, you're not really following mine as there are much better ones out there, you were unlucky in stumbling upon this one or you enjoy torturing your intellect. Anyways, I'm late to the blogging game and even later to putting out useful information about parenting. Most of the time, I don't even back up what I say.. So if you're upset at my lack of professionalism and feel like you've wasted your time, take some consolation in this- I referenced THREE other websites in this post and attempted to use actual quotes. More than I've ever done. Progress, my friend. Progress. 

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