Monday, February 20, 2006

Good news for those of us who work for a living

Thanks to Andi for linking to this story: proof that TV doesn't harm kids. This is very comforting considering that on deadline days, the amount of TV my son consumes goes beyond the 2 hours per day the AAP recommends. Not way beyond. But enough that I worried. I love when scientists create more accurate studies where none exist.

Now, if I could only get the child to watch TV on deadline days instead of climbing the furniture, throwing food around, and generally doing whatever he can to wrest my attention from work. Somehow, despite his elephantine memory, he has not caught onto the fact that I find ways and days to make it up to him. Or, maybe the memory is the problem: he thinks every day should involve fun trips and silly games. In which case it's the yet-to-develop logic that's the trouble. The Catholic Church says 7 is the age of reason. I'm in trouble.


Anonymous KJ said...

That is a good study. My baby is still not interested, though she'll sit with her big brother for unpredicatable intervals, so I can't rely on the big box babysitter yet, but I'm ready to! ANd I feel big time guilt about those 2 hours some days.

20/2/06 11:37 PM  
Anonymous kathie said...

Hey, I love to hear someone's in the same boat as me...though sorry you have to be! Kids are awesome, but trying to write while being a good mom is hard. Sometimes, I stand at my laptop and they don't notice what I'm doing. For some reason, as soon as I sit down to write, they're all over me. This all sounds so bad. I don't ignore them all day...independent play is a good thing, right?

24/2/06 11:18 AM  
Blogger Christa M. Miller said...

It is a good thing! Actually, I know my son is OK when he's entertaining himself. I would worry/feel guilty if he was afraid to come up and bother me, or if he was really clingy - he gets clingy when I'm stressed and/or he feels ignored. So if he's entertaining himself, I figure I'm OK. I just try to remember to throw in a chase game or build block towers or something....

27/2/06 4:07 PM  
Blogger M. G. Tarquini said...

Hello, Christa! Sorry to step in with a WTF? comment, but the folks who did the second study are a couple of ECONOMISTS, not physicians, especially not pediatric physicians. Also, their study does not take into account the differences between television when I was a kid - during the sixties and the nasty fare that's run 24/7 these days. Before the advent of cable, children's programming only ran at certain hours of the day, most other shows, except for soap operas, were pretty G rated at other times. Television stations signed off about midnight and didn't come back on until the Farm Report at 5 am.

Kids programming was generally high quality - Howdy Doody, Romper Room, Shari Lewis, with local shows playing an important part. They were broadcast an hour or so a day. Sesame Street started about 1968 or so. Then there were Saturday Morning cartoons.

The proof that kids are generally more obese and less healthy than their counterparts of even twenty years ago is staggering. Part of that can be attributed to people not wanting their kids wandering around outside unattended, but an awful lot of it can be laid at the doorway of passive entertainment such as television and sit down time at computers and video games coupled with a fast food culture.

The concern about television before two years old has to do with brain development during that time. Television watching first thing in the morning sets the brain into a more passive state, not the optimal level for a child getting ready to go off for a day of fun and learning. Before two years old, precious time which should be spent with mega blocks and stacking cans, building those synapse connections that will never be built again is spent watching the pretty lights flicker.

Sorry to be so vehement. Both my husband and I are pediatric professionals. All those economists have shown is that there might be some correlations with poorer kids being parked in front of the television. They haven't shown a damned thing about brain development, nor pediatric response to stimuli.

How about doctors don't comment on the theory of Keynesian Economics and economists don't comment on pediatric brain functioning, growth and development?

/off soapbox.

Sorry. This touches a topic near and dear to my heart.

28/2/06 1:21 PM  
Blogger Christa M. Miller said...

M.G., those are great points, and shame on me for not noticing that the article was written by economists. (Even though my degree is in Economics, I did not show favoritism in the posting of my entry. ;))

Believe me, if my son sat drooling in front of the idiot box all day long, I'd be worried enough to unplug the thing and tell him it was broken. But he doesn't.

First of all, we only get basic cable: networks and PBS. So he only watches high-quality PBS shows.

Second, he frequently has it on only for background noise. He'll play with his Thomas trains or blocks while listening to the action. Generally, he only actually watches TV when he's tired.

Third, deadline weeks (the week at the end of the month) really comprise the TV-intensive days. We absolutely cannot afford daycare, but playgroup three times a week (twice with me and once with Grandma) balances his life out a bit. And it will get easier once the weather gets warmer - he loves Outside more than anything else!

Thanks for the balance and the reminder that what works great for one mom won't work for everyone, because of the infinite variables involved. :)

28/2/06 5:33 PM  
Blogger M. G. Tarquini said...

Christa, it sounds like you've got it balanced.

I didn't let my kids watch TV until they were three, but, you know what? Neither my husband or I ever watched it either. Seriously. We could go months without flipping the switch. We didn't even have cable until we moved to Phoenix. If it weren't for the Classic movie channel and CNN, I'd probably can it, mostly because now the kids try and grab as much TV time as they can get away with. I try and get them to watch Discovery and the History Channel, Animal Planet, etc. And they do, but if I don't keep an eye, they'll watch the Disney channel until their brains melt out their ears.

As with everything, we balance. Keeping them busy with other activities, as you point out, keeps them from seeing the TV as a necessary part of their life.

PBS programming is the BEST. Truly. If a kid is watching television, that's the stuff to watch. When I homeschooled my kids, I used to comb the listings for educational material.

So stop beating yourself up. All you ladies, stop beating yourselves up right now. There's the ideal, then there are the adjustments we all have to make. My issue was that Slate had the gall to publish that article at all. I have to question why they did that, why they thought it had value.

Hardest thing about those young years with the kids is that they fly by so fast, but it doesn't seem that way when you're in the midst of feeling like a human monkey bar. Enjoy them.

28/2/06 6:11 PM  

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