In my last post, I talked about how I figured out that Joey, my seven year old bundle of fun and love, is addicted to television.
Well, to be fair, mostly my husband did the figuring. I just kind of went along with it.
But since we’ve started the dialogue about the effects of nearly unlimited iCarly on our kid, I’ve been doing some research, and it ain’t good.
I’m sharing this article, from Dr. Adam Cox’s Family Matters newsletter, to give you an idea of the stuff I’ve been reading. It’s written in fairly plain English, as opposed to the three separate studies I slogged through over the past couple of days, so you’re welcome.
The basic gist of the studies and Dr. Cox’s article is that TV can be some seriously bad juju for our youngsters. Their little spongy brains are soaking up everything they can right now, including the bright lights and big animations on the television screens.
From Dr. Cox:
In fact, for young children especially, it is the incredible stimulation that TV provides that makes it so potentially damaging. All of the flashing bright colors, loud sounds, and frequent fragmentation of reality that television encompasses is far too much stimulation for most young minds to manage. At the same time, children are like a magnet for this type of gratification, and as most parents know, can become addicted to the neurological stimulation of television very quickly.
How did I know that Joey was addicted? Well, the truth is, until I started researching television addiction in children, I didn’t know she was. But looking at it now, with a slightly altered perception, I can see very clearly where she’s been exhibiting signs of addiction for quite some time.
Here are some more gems from Dr. Cox that made me sit up and take notice. Take a look and see if your kids are exhibiting any of this type of behavior.
Just like what happens when a person is exposed to any drug, repeated exposure to television has the effect of dulling a person’s senses. This is precisely what we as parents experience when we ask our kids to tear themselves away from the television and in return get a blank stare or grunt and shrug!
How many times have I asked Joey a question, and had to repeat myself three or four times, because she’s watching TV and not paying attention to me? If I had a nickel for each instance, I’d be typing this from my villa in Spain.
With younger children, requiring them to make a transition away from a stimulation source to which they are “hooked” often results in an instant melt-down.
I talked about this a lot in my last blog. Asking Joey to turn off the television to eat dinner, do homework, go to bed, or anything else, really, resulted in a melt-down of epic proportions. This was our first clue that there was a problem.
Kids who are addicted to television care increasingly less about the content of what they are watching, and more about getting another “hit” of electronic stimulation.
This one really hit home. I used to say things to Joey like “Dude, you’ve seen this eighteen times, like, in the past week.” Response? Blank stare.
Surprisingly enough, this didn’t raise any red flags to me. The reason I was unconcerned with her watching the same stuff over and over is my own behavior.
My brother and I used to watch movies together and when we found one that we loved, we’d watch it till we had it almost memorized. We weren’t watching it to stimulate our brains electronically. We were watching it to purposely memorize our favorite parts. The real zingers, the witty comebacks, the things that made us laugh so hard we couldn’t breathe. And then we’d put those things into our every day conversation, more often than not.
This is why most people can’t stand to be in a room with the two of us. We’ll keep the normal conversation going for a while, but then all of a sudden, one of us will say something like “Trumpy, you do stupid things!” and it’s all over.
Anyway, point is, Joey watching the same show more than once didn’t bug me, until I read that and realized that my kid has increasingly become less interested in what’s actually on the television, and more interested in just making sure the television is on.
Dr. Cox has some tips about what to do to control the TV in your house. In my next blog (maybe tomorrow? Who knows?!) I’ll talk about what we’re doing in our house, starting with the very drastic step of pulling Joey’s plug for the entire month.