Telly Addicts

I was teaching a lesson at school today about Chinese music, a lot of which uses a 5 note pattern called the Pentatonic scale. I was explaining that five was a sacred number, and encouraging students to define what sacred meant. When they came up with descriptions like ‘it’s something that’s really important to you’ and ‘something you can’t live without’ I found myself telling them how Iggle Piggle is very important to my son and how he can’t live without his twice (sometimes thrice) daily dose of Peppa Pig. Obviously I wasn’t insinuating that these things are sacred, but it did dawn on me that my son, at not even 2 years old is a telly addict!

I like to think that we do lots of activities with our children. We go swimming regularly, we go to the park, we bake, we paint, we meet friends, we have family days out, however, I think my son would happily give all of these things up in favour of Peppa Pig!

I do let the children watch TV, but is it too much? My mum would argue yes. Generally, they will watch a programme in the morning while I’m sorting out breakfast, getting the other one washed and dressed etc. The same happens at tea time to calm them down and then get them ready for bed. My daughter also generally will choose a programme to watch after lunch while my son has his sleep. How does this compare to you? Do you let your children watch TV? If so, how much?

This amount of TV has led to my son turning the TV on and shouting ‘Peppa’ whilst patting the sofa (as his legs aren’t quite long enough for him to get up there all by himself just yet!) the second we arrive home! He also knows how to pause, play, rewind and fast forward using the Sky remote! He isn’t even 2 until April, and he said ‘Peppa’ ‘Upsy Daisy’ and ‘Holly’ before he said ‘Mummy!’

I’m hoping it’s just a symptom of being a 21st century baby. I find it bizarre that some of my childrens’ first words, were words that didn’t even exist when I was growing up. Among my daughter’s first words, along with ‘Mummy’ ‘Daddy’ and ‘Bunny’ were ‘XBox’ and ‘iPod!’ Bizarrely, I was explaining this to her the other day and her response when I said there were no iPods when I was 3, was “No iPods?! How did you eat your dinner without music?!” Particularly strange given that she very rarely eats her dinner with music! Anyhow, I have digressed…

I grew up in the days when children’s TV programmes were only on for a very small part of the day. I lived for the SeeSaw programmes, my personal favourites being Pigeon Street and Chockablock. I guess if children can access programmes geared towards them for 13+ hours a day via the likes of CBeebies etc, they are bound to be aware of it a lot more, even if they aren’t sat in front of it for all of this time, it was easy for my mum to restrict my viewing because it simply wasn’t on offer!

In our home, the TV pretty much forms the focal point of the room. It’s a modern house, with no fireplace, and TVs are a lot bigger now too so it’s hard to avoid them. I was talking to some students at my school about what they did at Christmas and the vast majority of the activities, even those done as a family seemed to revolve around staring at a screen, be it a TV screen or computer monitor. Even in my house, XBox Kinect provided some fabulous family fun, despite the fact my 3 year old daughter completely thrashed me at the bowling, genuinely!

Although it’s easy to get the children doing things away from the TV, and enjoying them, the fact remains that given a choice, I’m confident my son would still opt to watch TV which is my point. My daughter loves make belief and would happily play for hours in her kitchen, house or with her other toys, but if you listen to what she is saying or doing, it’s nearly always based around a character that she’s seen on TV, rather than completely from her head or from a book.

At work, gone are the days when you got excited if the teacher pulled the big TV on the rickety old trolley out of the cupboard, then put on some video with the sound so loud it was all distorted and you couldn’t hear a single word anyway. We now have interactive whiteboards, computers for each student, and the ability to pull something off the internet instantly should we need it. I saw a student watching a programme on BBC iPlayer during my lesson the other day, and my instant reaction was that they must have been off task, until I realised that what they were watching was probably a better example of what I was trying to demonstrate than I actually had, and I ended up showing it to the whole class!

But my point remains. Is it just the norm that my son would watch TV all day every day if he could? Are all children like this, and is it laziness or just the way things are nowadays? Or perhaps it’s a case of ‘like mother like son’ – I still remember the line up on Tuesday nights from my childhood, the best night ever – Children’s Ward, Home & Away, Neighbours, Fresh Prince, Heartbreak High, Eastenders, The Bill, London’s Burning, then homework got rushed at 10pm!

If you remember those programmes then you’re from my era, maybe it’s not a 21st century child thing after all…!


1 Comment (+add yours?)

  1. Layla
    Feb 08, 2011 @ 20:33:25

    They get bored of it eventually – my 4 and 6 yo’s hardly watch any now (compared to when they were your kids’ ages anyway – they used to watch loads thanks to me being perpetually exhausted!) However, that doesn’t mean they’re getting less ‘screen time’ – they play on the computer (age-appropriate internet games), my iphone, their DS’s or the Wii instead (these last two they’re only allowed to do if they’ve earnt the requisite numbers of good/helpful behaviour stars). It’s hard in winter but as the weather improves they’ll spend a lot more time out in the garden away from the lure of technology… I can’t wait 🙂


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