by guest blogger, Katherine VanBuskirk
I love TV. It is my guilty pleasure. After my day. After the baths and the stories and the negotiations about bed times. After all of that is done, I make my way to the family room. I sink into my spot and I shut down for an hour or so.
Sure I love to read and write and browse online. But TV, for me, is a comfort. Gilligan and Cindy Brady and Alex P. Keaton. Those characters shine. I even remember vividly the day we got cable. I waited at the end of our driveway for fear that the cable guy would miss the house.
And for better or worse I’ve passed this love on to my kids. G, eight, wasn’t always a screen guy. He wasn’t interested in Baby Einstein or Caillou when he was really little and then preferred playing with Backyardigan action figures to watching the show. To this day he can take or leave video and computer games also.
His sister is three and a little more interested in TV, though I fear she’s vaulted over some of the more age appropriate shows and can be found sometimes watching Ben 10 or iCarly with her brother.
“Screen time” isn’t really a problem at our house though. Yet.
We’re busy. By the time we get home each day, eat, have baths and read, there is little time for TV or computer. Weekends are more of the same. It hasn’t really come to setting a time limit. Sometimes, there is a lot, but most of the time it’s scarce by necessity.
I met someone recently who boasted that her son hadn’t watched anything but age appropriate movies his entire life. No TV. It worked. I was impressed. But part me also wondered what he’d missed.
Don’t get me wrong. I appreciate that there is boatloads of crap on TV these days – especially for kids. I am sure that my little guy watches his fair share. And let’s just say that some of my favourite shows may have been referred to as trash.
It’s just that some of my fondest memories growing up are of watching programs with my brother and sisters, my Mom and Dad in the next room, not far away. I see G enjoying the same thing. He loves for us to watch together. We talk about his shows, joke about the characters. I know for sure that he’ll remember these times for the rest of his life.
And maybe I’m exposing myself to criticism here, but TV brings our family together more than it separates us. Though it’s my escape at the end of a day, most of time, we watch together.
And on nights like tonight when G goes to bed early so he can read his book, skipping his allowed TV time, I know that maybe it isn’t perfect and maybe less time and fewer shows would be better, but my kid gets it.
He’s choosing an activity that is right for him in that moment. Of course, I’ll continue to fret over how much sugar he’s allowed, why he and his friends love the violent play so much and his refusal to cut fingernails, but I think we’re okay with the screen time. For now.
Katherine VanBuskirk is a communications professional in Halifax. She is rarely without a latte, a list and at least one of her two children.