The Benefits of Less TV Time

My daughter’s teacher handed me a copy of Heaven on Earth: A Handbook for Parents of Young Children by Sharifa Oppenheimer (SteinerBooks, 2006) several months ago.  I began reading it earlier this month (I have several books going).  Oppenheimer is a brilliant guide since she is not only the parent of three grown boys, but she was a teacher of young children for over 30 years.  The book is providing me with tips for strengthening the rhythm in our home’s daily routine and ideas for more outdoor activities to do with my daughter.

Oppenheimer devotes several pages to the influence media has on children.  She shares her own findings (24) of what she’s noticed in children who consume too much media:

  • They have difficulty playing collaboratively.
  • Their imagination is dulled by the need to repeatedly “play through” confusing media scenarios.
  • They have a hard time with creativity’s golden rule: “Anything can be anything.”
  • Their natural capacity to imitate is stifled. It is more difficult for them to “feel their way” into life.
  • Their movement lacks purpose and grace. They tend to move in an angular, jerky fashion.

Scary, isn’t it?  It is a good reminder that children need to interact with other people, not screens!

Several months ago, my daughter’s teacher engaged parents in a conversation about the detriments of media consumption, which my husband had been talking to me about since the time she was born.  As a result of the information my daughter’s teacher provided and the scientific research my husband showed me from the AAP, we drastically reduced the amount of television our daughter watched.  No longer was “Sesame Street” the go-to activity while I was making dinner.  Instead, I tried to engage her in the meal preparation by encouraging her to cook in her kid-size kitchen.  Additionally, I turned off the morning news and my husband turned off sports when he was playing inside with Isabelle on the weekends.  At first, the reduction in television was maddening for me.  However, we made these changes because we knew it would benefit our daughter’s development and play skills in the long run.


2 thoughts on “The Benefits of Less TV Time

  1. I enjoy reading your posts. I wish that the Waldorf school in our area was as solid as the one your child attends. I would not feel comfortable sending my children there, but I do believe in the principles the school is suppose to endorse. Keep sharing the book recommendations. I am adding them to my TBR pile for the summer. I teach and I use the summer vacation as FAMILY time. I devote each day to our children. Thanks again for the great parenting resources.

  2. We had a tv, but kept it in the closet, Stacey & as the kids got older, they had to give good reasons for watching a program. Most of the time it was for a school assignment. My daughter says her ‘peers’ talk about the sit-coms they grew up with & she has no idea what they’re talking about! As a teacher, all through the years, I found that my most motivated learners were those that I learned did not have a tv. I’m with you 100 per cent!

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