Each decade brings out some revolutionary life changing technology. The nineties saw the cable T.V. boom shake the face of Indian society. Brought up on a staple diet of Chitrahar and the Sunday movie, the plethora of programs beamed nonstop ensured that things were drastically changed for all of us. While the behenji-types wept buckets over the trials and travails of the various bahus, the more la-di-dah types oohed and aahed over The Sex and the City. Above all it was the kids that had it like never before. It was as if by magic a great Pandora’s Box full of goodies has been opened in front of them and they watched spell bound.
Have you ever noticed a child watching T.V.? The mouth falls slack; the glazed eyes are glued to the screen as their hands mindlessly operate. If you talk to them at this point of time, the best you’d get would be a guttural hmmm. It was this image of a hypnotized being that is scary. Bombarded by the unending and mindboggling variety, the kids just do not want to move away from the screen. It has many disadvantages. There is the damage to the eyes from the unblinking stare, usually in the dark room. What with the busy schedule, TV time usually cuts into the play time. This results in unhealthy couch potatoes with fat bodies and pimply skin. Last but not the least is the damage done to the tender minds by the software beamed out. A lot of stuff is not worthy of the eyes of an average kid. Even some of the news items are so gruesome that one shudders to think of the kids watching it. Leave alone the movies and serials, some of the so called ‘Kids’ programs have contents that should not be watched by children.
Rekha, a mother of nine year old absolutely forbids her child to see this cartoon about an excessively naughty child. “The pranks shown border on obscene and the children may get the message that it is ok to behave like the character,” she says.
Many kids’ program of foreign origin, depict a lifestyle very different from us. Repeated viewing of such a society may influence the tender and impressionable minds to adopt the same. It is not surprising to see kids aping the way of dressing, behaving and socializing of such programs.
Another wet ground is the advertisements. Viewers are bombarded with dazzling choices for everything imaginable under the sun. Invariably you will find kids putting parents under constant pressure demanding the advertised wares.
So what do the parents do? Get the cable connection off and move back to the Krishi Darshan – Chitrahar era? There is no cause for such a drastic change. The kids also get to see a lot more informative stuff that helps them learn. The horizons of the kids today are broadened by knowing more about things happening around the world. After all information is power. However, there is a lot parents can do to keep this problem in check. As the adage goes – a stitch in time saves nine.
It is advisable that the parents find time to share air time with kids. This does not include superficial lolling in the same room, tapping on your laptop. Actually watch the show. As Shalu puts it, “I always have a lively discussion on the programs watched with my kids. I try to find out their favorites and make it a point to watch them.” this way you know what the kid is watching and may put a stop if it is something untoward. Discussing the programs may reveal the effect they are having on your child.
Place the TV in the common space. Kids having a set in their room is an absolute no-no. You can have an eye on what is being watched and the kids will also be vary of switching on to an inappropriate program for the fear of being caught.
Set ground rules after an amiable discussion. Limit the TV watching time. You don’t have to be a dragon about it, but keep to the limits strictly. Blank off objectionable channels. At the same time ensure that you do not watch an explicit movie while the kids are around.
Find out some good programs and encourage the kids to see it. Tune in to it when you are watching TV and they might develop a taste for it. There are many options that provide excellent viewing including serials, live competitions; art and craft shows etc. take time to run through the program guide. However, the tone should be –“Lets watch this, it looks interesting.” Rather than say-“You should watch this, it looks educational.” Kids are allergic to anything that is educational, knowledgeable, good-for-you etc. Avoid these words like the plague.
Keep the communication lines open with your kids. Make them understand the necessity of strict rules. Other parents may be able to add valuable information.
Do not leave the kids to entertain themselves at all times. Spend time with them in activities removed from the TV. Board games, cycling, creative activity like art, music or dance are some alternatives. The main point is that the children should not think that the TV is the only source of entertainment.
Re-published with permission from the blog of ParentEdge, a bi-monthly parenting magazine that aims to expose parents to global trends in learning and partner with them in the intellectual enrichment of their children.