Screen Time

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So, for years now we have all been told that children, our children in particular, you know, from middle-class families, who know best, watch far too much television and that its not good for them. They should be outside playing, preferably in the garden – if you have one. Or that they should be in the park with their friends enjoying the great outdoors, experiencing the joys of nature, climbing trees, falling from them and ending up in Accident and Emergency, thankfully, not in my case, but that’s what most parents think.

Then it was the kind of programmes the children watched. I have lost count how many times I heard parents say something along the lines of: ‘oh, we never let our child watch Disney.  Can’t bare that sugar-coated capitalist brainwashing clap-trap,’ before adding, ‘we only let them watch an hour of TV and then its something educational.’

Well, I always thought that this was utter nonsense and said so, much to the annoyance of other parents. It really is or was a huge bone of contention. There is absolutely nothing wrong with Disney, I’m sorry. But yes, they are a huge conglomerate corporation and yes, it may well be sugar-coated, so what? I have never heard any bad language on a Disney programme. Any violence is pretty moderate and besides, I think as a child I had seen every Disney movie that every came out and since the birth of my child, have seen every Disney movie since.

Nowadays however, the focus of attention is on video games. I have just listened to yet another radio programme going on and on about how children would be better off playing outside, reading a book, falling from trees etc.. they even gave a statistic that those children who play video games on average drop a grade or two.

Rubbish. If your child has dropped a grade, or two, then unless your child is spending all evening in front of the PC or Television watching Disney all night, there is something else going on which has resulted in them dropping a grade at school. I would suggest that maybe, just maybe, the parent has failed in their duty to ensure that their child has completed their homework. Or that the parent is so disengaged with their child’s ability that they haven’t noticed or not bothered to see if they are struggling in their homework.

Blaming the television or video games is a simple scapegoat to hide their own failings as a parent. As I said, your child would have to be sat in front of the screen for hours neglecting their school work for weeks on end in order for them to drop a grade. A couple of hours of TV or video gaming is, in my experience quite the opposite to all those so-called experts who live in some mythical bygone era when children used to be able to play in the streets, climbing trees in the open fields and then several hours having their broken arm put in plaster.

Children these days cannot play in the street for obvious reasons. They will die. They cannot play in those wild open fields any longer because there is a housing estate built on it and besides, if you watch the news enough, you’d know that there are too many axe-wielding maniacs wandering around outside for comfort.

All this is of course is complete nonsense and these experts manage to earn a living from terrifying parents into thinking Television and computer games are the work of Satan. Well, Satan doesn’t exist and neither does all this clap-trap about too much screen time will damage your child.

Most television shows aimed at children have an educational quality about them and those that don’t are there just to entertain but even then they are learning something. For instance: Tom and Jerry. Nothing educational there you would think. My daughter however, will only watch those produced by Fred Quimby, why? Because the quality was so superior to those that followed. Everything from the animation to the storyboarding to the soundtrack was a master-class in cartoons.

Disney was a joy to watch in her early years, Big Blue House was one of our favourites, she then over years went on to the teenage programmes such as Hannah Montana and we all know where that has ended up.  My daughter can’t bare her now.

As for video games, I have played hours of games with her, everything from Zelda to Super Mario to Dance on Broadway -God help me – and everything else in between. Not only that, my daughter knows the name of the CEO at Nintendo, the head animator and everything else besides, Here, I would concede that this is not normal behaviour for a child. However, I always ensured she did her school work afterwards and guess what? She got straight As!

So, screen time like everything else, is not only harmless, but can be good for you in moderation. But just like eating a burger everyday of the week, too much will make you sick. Don’t let the ‘experts’ deprive your child of TV or video games. They can learn a whole lot more and yes, their imagination will expand through the powers of the screen just as it will through a book or playing outside dodging the traffic!

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