Monday, 11 June 2012

So what exactly does TV do?

When I became a Mother I found that nurses, doctors, experts, other Mothers and so on would all parrot the latest research findings to me like they were quoting dogma.  Having not grown up with dogmas, I am fortunate to have a healthy skepticism when it comes to life and its goings on.   

I recall that when I was pregnant with Pixel, I saw a report on the news which stated that TV and other media such as computers were detrimental to children younger than three and that the French had put this notice on to all children’s videos.  I thought at the time that this was pretty serious stuff but hardly difficult to prevent a toddler from watching TV until after the age of three.

I had also learned that language is pathed in a child’s brain whilst still a forming baby in the womb and that by the age of three, if they are not exposed to alternative languages, that it would be much more difficult for the child to learn and retain other languages.

So this takes me to my dilemma of a few years back.  I desperately wanted Pixel to learn German for three reasons.  One was that his Omie and Opie would have loved to speak to him in German, being German themselves.  Reason two was that of course Pixel’s Father’s entire heritage is German and I wanted him to maintain a connection with his heritage.  Reason three is that I spoke very basic German that I had struggled so hard to learn so I thought that I could at least teach Pixel some words if not the correct sentences.

My solution was to make the most of this baby sponge time and ignore the warnings about TV.  This came about when I met with my Mother Care Nurse and the topic of TV came up.  Of course out came the diatribe so I stopped her and asked, “what does it do?”

The answer was not what I was expecting.  She told me that researchers had found that it impeded the child’s imagination.  “So that’s it?  That’s all it does?”  I asked and was given a very solemn affirmative.

“For goodness sakes,” I thought.  “That’s just crazy!” 

Having worked for a stint at a University in the Research Grants Office Department, I knew that not all research was true and at times, what was considered fact one day, was often overturned after the next study is completed.  For goodness sake Dr Spock had to appolgise to an entire generation of children (mine) and make huge adjustments to his techniques. 

Anyway I gave a rather glib comment along the lines of it perhaps being rather a good thing if it did manage to do that given that both of Pixel’s parents were dreamers.  We were the sorts that spent school days staring out the window, dreaming of more interesting things.  Needless to say, I did not believe this warning and I exposed my child to German programmes which have had a lasting effect.

Pixel has been exposed to fluent German speaking way beyond my capabilities.  We use words and phrases that I can manage and I expect that it will stay with him.  To this day he has only heard Tellie Tubbies in German. 

My opinion is, do not expose children to too much TV or other media devices ie computers just as they should not be over exposed to any thing.  Do not allow them to watch unattended and be interactive and reinforce with them what they are learning.

I will have to wait and see if there are any consequences but he has to me proven that he has an enormous imagination with every pen in the house being appropriated into rocket service and the like.  He also invents his own stories to go along with ambient music and so forth so somehow, I am just not too worried.

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