There’s a lot of hyperbole about the (perceived, presumed) detrimental effects of television on kids.
I’ll not hear a word against TV. I love it.
I’ve always loved it. And I hope my kids grow up loving it, too, in between bouncing on the trampoline, riding their bikes, colouring in, reading, and whatever else funsterish under-6s do these days.
Our family got its first TV when we still lived in Alor Setar in Malaysia. This was in the early to mid 1970s. We used to watch Ultraman and Astroboy, and creepy Malay horror movies with pockmarked women looming from kampung windows. Through high-school, my parents never really stopped me from watching TV while I was doing my homework. I think about that now and am amazed. Would I have passed maths properly if I hadn’t been watching TV? Would I have not got a distinction in English if I hadn’t been watching TV?
My kids watch many things, and several of the shows met with our combined disapproval because of their Americanisms (Total Drama Island), ‘bad values’ (Amazing World of Gumball – the 1st episode I saw had the main characters selling out their friends and family – I never thought I’d do the ‘bad values’ thing but here I am…), and sheer nonsensical-ness (Adventure Time and The Regular Show).
The kids pick up the language of the shows very easily and, while I’m not that prudish about swearing, I don’t think that under-6s trash-talking each other is that cool. Though it can be funny. But I can’t laugh while they’re watching me.
Recently, though, I’d have to lay something that verges on a miracle at the doorstep of Watching Television: Our daughter, who has had a long aversion to eating anything that’s green and leafy, was requesting salad.
She’d just seen “Rigby’s Body“, an episode of The Regular Show where Rigby’s body left him because he’d eaten too much junk food. The body searched for another, healthier person to inhabit.
Where years of exhortation, reverse psychology, gentling, and phases of projecting not-caring have failed, a single episode of a psychedelic slacker cartoon won through.
Granted, it was only two days of active flagging of specifically wanting salad, but fingers crossed that the idea of cultivating a healthy body has longer-term effect.