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TV Moms: Is TV Technology Becoming The “Other” Parent, And Hurting Our Kids?

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By Mia Bolaris-Forget

Even stay at home mom’s may realize that there’s just not enough hours in a day to take care of the house, your new baby, and your spouse, when he comes home from work. Between nursing, laundry, shopping, cooking, cleaning, etc., many moms (many of whose own mothers still work or have socially busy lives) “need” someone to help out with junior/juniorette. Still, you may lack comfort and confidence and comfort about leaving your baby in someone else’s care. So, with friends and relatives unavailable, and daycare “out of the question”, the only reprieve you get may consist of placing junior/juniorette in front of the TV.

According to experts, whether you realize it or not, you ARE inviting “strangers” into your home and into your child’s life, and relying on them to do part of your job, as they use art and entertainment to not only amuse your infant, but also impart on him/her certain points of view, points you may not agree with or know about unless you are watching with him/her and explaining.

Experts note, that children from today’s generation enter a scholastic environment (including nursery and pre school) without the ability to read, recite and recognize the alphabet, spell their own name, count to 10, or even without being potty trained, all skills prior generations seemed to have mastered before officially entering society. They note that these youngsters are becoming increasingly more dependent on television (including VHS, DVDs, video games, computers, etc) as they are victims of being weaned on it. In fact, in recent surveys, nearly 50% of parents questioned admitted to relying as the television, movies, etc, to act as their “electronic nanny” during day time hours in which they need to be productive. To make matters worse, experts note that much of what children watch these days often has little moral, social or educational lessons or values to offer, it purely a means of captivating entertainment.

Yet, experts agree that while content IS important, the amount of television watched per day is equally as paramount. They note that more than one hour of television per day results in negative consequences and has an adverse impact on academics and academic achievement, parent/child bonding and communicating, and contributes “laziness” and to physical health issues such obesity. Furthermore, authorities assert that television also shifts the positive experience of living. They state, that regardless of the content and lessons it may offer, children programming should be used merely as an entertaining way to reinforce morals, values, ideals, etc, already enforces, and that children should be encouraged to go out and live their “own” lives rather than just watching others live and enjoy theirs (even if they are only fictional cartoon characters).

While experts accept that many of the computer programs ARE educational and beneficial, many, along with a variety of video games, they claim call for youngsters to constantly visit and revisit someone else’s imagination as opposed to tapping into their own. Plus they note, that children, who NEED to learn about the world through “make believe” and “imaginary play”, are merely picking up on their parents TV and amusement habits. Additionally they observe that most children adopt behaviors, reasoning, logic, ideas, and ideals of the characters they admire or are most exposed to and can relate to, often times which, parents even claim, affects their behavior.

Children are also the main targets to media advertising and develop their set of “wants” from media bombardment and exposure, according to the experts. Some professionals even go as far as to say, that with all the overexposure (and parents explaining that certain foods, toys, etc, are simply not healthy, good, practical, etc). Children quickly become cynical, questioning the validity of what they see and hear and by the age of 8 or 9 they have very negative expectations (labeling most things as junk) of what life has to offer.

With that said, however, most experts concur, that while the media has “always” had the potential to be damaging, they suggest that is a healthy balance that is needed now more than ever. Know what your child is watching when you are not watching him or her, reading to him/her, playing with him/her and having quality “family” and parenting time. They also suggest taking time out for the all those previously mentioned activities, and NEVER substituting television and other forms of screen media for your parental obligation, responsibility and duty and making it the family babysitter.

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