Plugged In But Not Tuned Out

We have all heard that the television emits beams that liquify your child's brain on contact, and that letting your child watch television is no better than letting them play in traffic.* However, in today's ubiquitously plugged in society, is a strict anti-television and computer stance very reasonable or even still valid? 

Since parenting is all about the shades of gray, and nothing can ever simply be black and white, here are a couple of factors to consider before taking a stance on your child's media consumption:

Be an Ageist

One of the (very few) parent truisms is that proper social development is an important key to a child's success. As an infant, children are starting to piece together non-verbal cues from those around them, which taken together forms their first social interactions.

But consider this, while Dora may be introducing older children to Spanish words, for our littlest learners all verbal communication is like hearing a foreign language and they are relying on a softening of the eyes, a tilt of the head, and other visual clues to discern what is being said to them... visual clues that both puppets and cartoons are wholly incapable of producing.

The key communication lessons they need to learn aren't being taught to them so watching television is an even more passive, and most likely very disorienting experience for them. It could even be going as far as to inhibit your child's social interactions.

As a new parent, and one who has been known on more than one occasion to spend an entire day watching old movies and E! True Hollywood Stories, I thought that all of the turn-off-the-TV hype was an overreaction. Until after instituting a strict no-TV policy in our home for one week I saw a dramatic increase in my 10 month-old's attempts at interactions and efforts to communicate with us- it was truly astounding the difference after just seven short days.

So the simple solution seems to be turning off the TV right? Not so fast.

Making Media Consumption Social

Completely tuning out in today's society just isn't a feasible option. In fact, for all of the junk out there on the web and television there are also some great educational tools for parents to take advantage of. And, just like indulging in sweet frosted cupcakes, approaching media with caution and moderation will offer parents value while mitigating the harmful affects. 

While some children's television shows, like Super Why, Dora the Explorer, and Ni Hau Kai Lan just off the top of my head, have made strides to become more interactive by asking children questions and waiting for responses, making television or computer time an activity that you participate in together is a great way to temper their consumption.

Just like whipping out the blocks and playing together, turning on the computer and searching for animals found in the jungle, or sitting your little one on your lap and singing along together takes the activity from passive to social, and also makes monitoring content much easier.

The older your child gets the more freedom they will need, and completely cutting them off from media becomes less reasonable. Besides, who wants to raise a child that views computers with the same sense of apprehension that some of our senior citizens do?

I would go as far as to say that, just like teaching our kids about colors and numbers, familiarizing our children with technology is now part of the parenting gig. And with the deluge of information (and misinformation) now available at just the click of a mouse or a push of the remote button, teaching our children to be discerning media consumers is also an important part of our job and will pay off in spades when they do become independent media consumers.

*This may be a slight exaggeration 

By Melody Meiners, education blogger for Smart Parenting

Share This Story
Our Daily Things to Do email is the easiest way to plan your day.
Follow Us
Want daily ideas of things to do? How about special offers & giveaways? Sign up and we’ll handle the rest.
Things to Do

Toddler Tinker Time
Tuesday, April 13, 2021
Wednesday, April 14, 2021
Thursday, April 15, 2021

Bring your little ones to Toddler Tinker Time at The Magic House for special experiences designed especially for preschoolers. Weekday mornings, Tuesday through Friday, families will enjoy hands-on activities in the Art Studio, plus private playtime featuring limited capacity in Wonder Works and Wonder Why.

View this event »
Petite Picasso Virtual Art Classes for Kids
Tuesday, April 13, 2021
Tuesday, April 20, 2021

The Magic House now offers a virtual art experience for children – multi-sensory Virtual Petite Picasso classes. Classes are taught live from the Art Studio at The Magic House, and a different art activity is featured each week! 



View this event »
You Might Also Like...

From Our Sponsors
Popular Stories

How to Lessen the Impact of Social Isolation on Your Child's Mental Health

This need for regular socialization all comes down to nature – we are biologically human wolf packs who need to connect with each other, especially in our early years. We asked local experts how to help kids handle the isolation resulting from the pandemic and remote learning, and how it may impact their futures.

Continue reading »
Saint Louis Zoo's Newest Exhibit Features Roaring, Spitting Dinosaurs in a Walk-Through Land Before Time

The creatures in this temporary exhibit will move realistically, some roaring and spitting, or placidly marching on lush vegetation to the delight of visitors. Along the tropically planted trail in this land before time, families will discover the amazing connection between dinosaurs and living animals today. 

Continue reading »
Fun for Every Child: The Steps Summer Camps are Taking to Be More Inclusive

Each year, summer camps take thousands of kids on an incredible adventure, where they can explore the great outdoors and make both friends and memories that will last a lifetime. When camps are more inclusive, it benefits every child ready for summer fun. 

Continue reading »
Spring Break Camps Offer a Variety of Activities for Kids and Teens in St. Louis

Welcome 2021's much-awaited springtime with a variety of fun Spring Break camps for kids as young as Pre-K. From rocketry to wildlife, science to arts & crafts, sports to healthcare, in-person or virtual Spring Break camps offer kids a way to meet up with their peers, learn a new skill, or return to favorite fun activities. Here is a roundup of Spring Break camps available in the St. Louis area:

Continue reading »
How Are You Holding Up? Here's What Experts Say About Coping With Anxiety, Stress and Uncertainty

Telling children they shouldn’t worry about something doesn’t make that worry go away. Instead, we want to help them develop skills to manage worries so they can feel empowered to cope with future worries.

Continue reading »
Follow Us