TV Killed the Attention Span

So DearDR e-mailed me this article the other day. Granted, all the data are from 2004, but it’s probably safe to say that not much has changed in three years. (I’m not sure what brought this to DearDR’s attention at this point, either.)At first, I got a little pissy because, frankly, DearDR is much more likely than I am to turn on the tube and let it run when he’s watching the kids. But then I reined myself in, and realized that while I may not let Monkey watch five hours of TV at a stretch, I certainly am not innocent of turning it on when I don’t feel like doing anything. My choice to “use” the TV is usually quite selfish: so I can have a second cup of coffee, or read a few more pages of my novel, or whatever. I turn on the TV for some me time.

But I don’t think I need that much me time anymore. I have nap/rest time (usually); I have an hour or so at night. I think it is better for me to commit the play time to Monkey and Bun, and use the TV less. Also, I am quite lucky that my girls are good at amusing themselves for short stretches of time. At least enough time for that second cup of coffee.

Will I completely turn off the TV? No. In my head, I figure an hour, in two separate 1/2 hours, is a nice amount of TV watching. My chosen viewing for Monkey is usually a DVD — Dora, Baby Einstein, the Scholastic videos (these are awesome, videos based on Scholastic books, and Monkey loves them and reading the books that go with them; I discovered them at the library).

In reading the article, I am less struck by TV’s link to ADD or ADHD (I mean, it’s nice that they are studying this, but it’s not exactly rocket science to make the link) than by this fact: “Last year, the Kaiser Family Foundation reported that a third of children under 6 live in homes where TV is on most of the time, and 33 percent of those children have televisions in their bedrooms.” From this, more recent, article.

Children under 6 have TVs in their bedroom?? For what? So they can fall asleep with it playing? So they can turn it on in the morning and let their parents sleep a little longer? (Well, okay, that sounds, theoretically, like a fantastic idea — talk about selfish!) Why would any child need a TV in the bedroom? I don’t even plan on letting my children as teenagers have TVs or computers in their room. Bed is for two things; one of them is sleeping, and the other I’m desperately hoping my girls don’t engage in until marriage (I can be in denial for awhile yet).

I did not grow up with a TV in the bedroom. In any of the bedrooms of my house. Or in the kitchen. I did watch TV as a kid — I still have very fond memories of the greatest children’s show ever “The Electric Company”. When DearDR and I got married, and he suggested we put our second TV (once we had upgraded from my dinky 13-inch screen with built-in VCR) in our bedroom, I looked at him like he was nuts. (Same as when he suggested we hang his pictures of the Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary above the bed, but that’s a different story.) We did not have cable TV in my house growing up. It wasn’t even considered as far as I know.

I felt somewhat vindicated about the “no TV in the bedroom” when I saw this study, linking low sexual activity in couples to TV viewing in the bedroom (obviously, they aren’t watching the right thing together, wink wink). But at this point, seeing as DearDR and I only manage to have sex, oh, twice a month, and he often falls asleep on the couch (watching TV, duh) and stays there all night, maybe I should reconsider. Our sex life won’t get better, but at least we’ll be sleeping in the same bed! (Which my parents ALWAYS did and still do. I don’t know how my mother deals with the snoring!)

Now I am not a child psychologist or a sociologist or any kind of child-care professional (unless you count SAHM). These are just my thoughts and opinions, and I’m not really going to analyze the trend or the study. I think it makes a good point, and I for my part am going to try really hard to reduce the amount of time my kids watch TV. I know that they will still get plenty of viewing time in at my in-laws (talk about a household that has TV on all the time! My FIL watches Fox News in the living room; my MIL watches the Food Network or her mystery shows upstairs and/or in the kitchen, and Nanny has her own set in her room), and probably some at daycare (when they go back), and I can live with that. Control what you can, and all that.