Traveling around the country giving talks and workshops for parent and professional groups, I always remind my audiences that the proof of anything I say must be found in the pudding.
“Take my advice back into your families and/or your professions,” I urge, “and see if it works.”
A mother and speech therapist in Waterloo, Iowa, took this challenge to heart. Several months ago, after hearing my “Six-Point Plan for Raising Happy, Healthy Children,” she decided to see for herself whether my warnings about the effects of television-watching on children held any truth. She shared the results of her “research.” Here’s her story, in her words:
“Because of your lecture, and because of what I had observed in my daughter’s behavior when she watched television, we established a ‘No TV’ policy in our house several months ago. Our baby sitters and parents honor this policy; however, we don’t expect friends to comply when we visit in their homes.
“The only television Rachel watches consists of videotapes chosen especially for family viewing. This averages one or two films per week. I try to pick movies no longer than one and 1-1/2 hours animated, and only after we’ve read the book together. Furthermore, I always have the book present and open while we watch the movie.
“We noticed an immediate increase in Rachel’s speech and language skills after the ‘TV Blackout.’ She waited until she was 16 months to say her first word. Nine months later, she was finally putting two words together. After we silenced the television, she went from two-word utterances to singing nursery rhymes, to retelling “Cinderella” and other favorite books, and using as many as nine words per sentence.
“She also acts out the stories. Before the blackout, she would sit motionless in front of the tube, eyes glued to the screen (exactly the same way I get when I watch TV).
“Because I’ve caught myself sitting still for even ‘stupid’ programs, I, too, chose to limit my television watching to almost nothing. None of us seems to miss the television, although my husband says he just can’t give up Monday night football!
“The last few weeks, Rachel has been engaging in amazing amounts of make-believe - pretending she is Cinderella, dropping a slipper while she runs away from the ‘prince’ (our cat), and asking me to ‘pretend’ with her as she casts a magic spell, making me the ‘good stepmother.’
“I’m thoroughly convinced of the merits of pulling the plug on TV. As a mother and professional, I don’t believe my child would have developed her present skills if we had continued to allow her to watch television an average of two hours per day, as she had done previously. I also feel I personally wouldn’t have accomplished as many of my own projects.”
I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: TV-watching pacifies the growing child’s intellect and imagination, and interferes significantly with the development of social, perceptual, motor and language/communication skills.
This is true regardless of the program being watched and is why outcries over the content of certain “children’s” shows are nothing more than red herring. Prove it to yourselves.
The following fields overflowed: CREDIT = John Rosemond The Charlotte Observer
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