I started out with the best intentions. But things don’t always go to plan . So here goes the saga of media mania that consumed my mealtimes ( and yes I am inclined to hyperbole..).
Opinions on the effects of television on children is varied in terms of how noxious it actually is. There are studies that link it to lower physical stamina, eating habits , violence etc. However, after watching Baby Einstein I retracted any negative opinion I may have had ( and it suited my requirements).
Soon Baby Einstein , Brainy Baby , Mickey Mouse Clubhouse all became welcome additions to mealtimes. I was willing to do whatever it took to shove that extra spoon of Rajma Chawal down my daughter’s gullet. The pause button was a weapon against food that was agonisingly stuck in the cheek for too long and not chewed. The portable DVD player was always with us on every vacation.
The choice of program viewing progressed to Dora and Barbie, as did the habit of watching the idiot box. I did however keep a close eye on what she watched. I will never forget when I walked in on her watching a show which had a bizarre reptilian character dubbed to sound like Shahrukh Khan. I felt as though I had walked into the twilight zone. I laid down strict guidelines on what was permissible. Just that fact gave me the illusion that I was on top of things.
We moved along in this manner till this past summer, when during the vacations it dawned on me how addicted she had gotten to television. It was evident I was responsible for taking her down this media rabbit hole. I knew I had to pull my little Alice out of this technicolor Wonderland. Mind you , I am still not averse to television as a mode of entertainment . There are enough programs having a high value quotient and though you may think I am deluded but there are actually shows that add to your child’s general knowledge and vocabulary. The problem arises when the need to watch becomes all consuming.
In my case, my personal penchant for television was also an issue. Sneaking into my room in every ten minutes of down time that I got from the kids to finish that episode of Law and Order behind closed doors was my secret indulgence. I am even guilty of making Masterchef Australia a form recreation with my daughter.
So, I attacked my problems at two levels. First, I only switch on my television when the kids are at school or when they are asleep. The second was not as easy, as when it came to my daughter I had to restructure everything. Now television is allowed for thirty minutes post lunch and then we call it a day. Sticking to my guns has made it workable.
I am realistic enough to know that neither me nor the kids can work without our television breaks. The transition has come in terms of it becoming a reward versus routine. I have accepted that the television is a necessary evil in the scheme of my existence. However, it is no longer a dependence.