Friday, July 22, 2005

In Praise of the Evil Television

The overwhelming message out there is that all the “experts” agree that kids watching television is terrible. Simultaneously, everyone goes on and on about how much TV American kids are watching, so, apparently, parents aren’t listening to the experts on this particular issue. As with all things, it’s something that should be decided by individual families depending on their needs and preferences. For my own children, while I don’t encourage sitting in front of the TV all day, I try not to be a complete head case about it.

The number one reason I love PBS is because I have zero babysitters, and so, at my house, children watching a little tube each day really makes me a better mom. Really! And my kids learn some interesting things that they ask me about later that I wouldn’t have necessarily thought to teach them otherwise.

Secondly, we know that one thing that determines a person’s feeling of happiness and satisfaction in life is how well he fits into the culture in which he lives. I think we can acknowledge that while TV viewing may not create a genius, in small doses it does help create a “normal” person socially speaking. It’s more difficult to make connections at the water cooler when you’re the lone person who read Pride and Prejudice last night while everyone else was watching American Idol. And anyway, everyone knows “geniuses” are tormented individuals who cut off their ears, wear plaid with stripes, and engage in other odd and socially unacceptable behavior. What kind of parent would I be if I tried to create that life for my own kids?

And, finally, don’t forget the ever popular, I watched a lot of TV as a kid and my brain still manages to function at a reasonable level. That’s not to say there’s anything wrong with limiting, monitoring or even eliminating television, generally speaking, but just that the “harm” that everyone likes to harp on is a little overwrought.

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