“Can I watch a show?”
My son asks me this many times a day, or he did, until I put him on a “crash media diet”.
My husband started him on the iPad and iPhone as soon as Will was able to focus attention on it. He got him all kinds of cool apps. Will became proficeint at the iPad before I did. He was about 2 years old when he was able to navigate it like a pro.
In addition to apps, we sprinkled in some shows on YouTube or Netflix. It all started so that I could get him to eat, or eat faster. It took FOREVER for Will to finish a meal. I found that if I popped on Sesame Street or Signing Time with Alex and Leah I could shovel the food in more quickly and more easily. But I felt guilty.
I began doing it on the sly so my husband wouldn’t know. This is because I am “anti-TV” and I wanted to wait until Will was 2 to expose him to (very limited) media. I knew if Billy got wind of the fact I was letting Will watch shows that he would take that as a green light to turn the BOOB TUBE on for Will whenever.
I’m not much of a liar so, I let the cat out of the bag and since then Will began watching far too many shows. And boy was it convenient. I suddenly had time to put the dishes in the dishwasher or get in some Facebook, Twitter and email time. Now and again I would right myself and distract him with more “real-world” activities. But, I would inevitably slip back into the media mommy.
Recently we moved (AGAIN!) and we found shows and movies to help ease the strain on everyone as well as allow us to get all the work done that is involved in searching for a new place and packing and unpacking the home. Will would sometimes have a session of 2 hours with the iPad doling out Thomas and Friends, Calliou, and Roary the Racing Car, with a some doses of Bob the Builder.
He became demanding about his shows and extremely resistant to stop watching. And, we noticed that he started acting out the grumpy or mean characters. He became more aggressive.
Side note: He had three school-mates who were aggressive and older than him that were also affecting him. When he began attending the school with these children is when I started noticing a drastic change. … The shows just seemed to augment the school situation. The shows and movies gave him lots of fantasy material to re-enact. Could this have been in-part a way to cope with the meanies at school?
A few weeks ago I took a stance: no more shows! Ok… shows only once a week. And, those shows must not possess an overtly mean character. I would rather he spend his media consumption on positive and educational influences.
NEXT UP: The outcome of this Will’s MEDIA DIET.