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Managing the Idiot Box


ramendraThis blog is an excerpt from Ramen’s parenting book,“Effective Parenting: A New Paradigm”.

I do not know what the invasion of the aliens would have done for us. But the invasion of the Idiot Box in our homes has certainly unleashed a virus that is harming our society, especially members of the GenNext, in ways we are not even aware of.

David Perlmutter, M.D., acclaimed neurologist and author lists the harmful impact of TV on children:

  1. Time spent watching TV displaces other types of creative and imaginative activities.
  2. Television watching discourages reading and exercise.
  3. Television advertising increases demand for material possessions.
  4. Exposure to violence on television can increase aggressive behavior in some children.

Stephen R.Covey in his bestseller The 7 Habits of Highly Effective Families writes, ‘It is true that there is so much good on TV – good information and enjoyable, uplifting entertainment. But for most of us and our families, the reality is more like digging a lovely tossed salad out of the garbage dump. There may be some great salad there, but it’s pretty hard to separate out the trash, the dirt and the flies.’

The author then goes on to ask you a simple question, ‘What does your own heart tell you? Does watching TV make you kinder? More thoughtful? More loving? Does it help you build strong relationships in your home?’

Gentle reader I leave you it to you to reflect and answer.

When I was a kid, idiot box hadn’t even happened. But looking back I really don’t think my childhood was any worse for that. Sports, reading and family time kept us busy.

There may be an argument that why single out TV? There is the ubiquitous cell phone with its WhatsApp and other charms and the equally omnipresent internet and its omnipotent social networking sites. It is my personal opinion that the internet offers you an ocean of information at a click. Facebook, Twitter and WhatsApp help you stay connected and have reduced the planet to the size of a button. While these technological Dumbledores do have their disadvantages these are outweighed by the benefits. The same cannot be said of the Idiot Box.

So how do you fight the ogre of TV:

  • Regulate the time which your child should view TV – say an hour a day and a couple more on holidays. Replace TV watching hours with reading and play time.
  • Discuss with her and come to a mutually-agreeable decision on what kind of programmes she can watch. Get her interested in channels with a high infotainment quotient, e.g. National Geographic.
  • Do try to watch TV with your child. When you watch and enjoy the same programmes it creates a kind of connect.
  • Avoid watching programmes which are not meant for children in front of them.
  • Discipline begins with the self. Set an example for your child by reducing the time you spend watching TV.
  • Do not use TV as a surrogate parent or an Electronic Babysitter.

Sometime back I had gone to Sholai School which is  on the outskirts of Kodaikanal. It is best defined by the acronym CLOOAT (Centre for Learning, Organic Agriculture and Appropriate Technology). In Sholai, the children watch TV only for one hour a week and seem very happy with the arrangement. They are intelligent, hardworking, curious, playful, independent and innocent. If they can do it, why not our kids?

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Ramendra Kumar (Ramen) is an award-winning writer for children and young adults with 27 books to his name. He also dabbles in satire, poetry, fiction and travelogues. His writings have been translated into several Indian and foreign languages and showcased in many text books and anthologies. Ramen is a much sought after inspirational speaker and storyteller. An Engineer and an MBA, Ramen is working as Chief of Communications, Rourkela Steel Plant, Odisha. You can visit Ramen's website www.ramendra.in


2 thoughts on “Managing the Idiot Box

  1. Kritika Srinivasan

    You are absolutely right Ramen. This holds true for adults as well. The day we cut down on TV time is the day we find time for so much more – reading, exercise, talking to people….. from my own experience I find that I am able to pack in so much more than someone who watches TV. In fact, in my home, the remote control is safely tucked away in a drawer whereas books are always to hand in all rooms and on every surface! :)

    Reply

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