Wednesday, 17 July 2013

Kill Your Television

Our children still don't watch a lot of television, which for the most part makes me very happy.  They'll maybe watch 10-20 minutes of cartoons once or twice a week while we tackle some household projects.*  I sometimes wonder if we are doing a disservice to our children by not having them watch more television.  I'm not crazy, hear me out.  Twins are often slower to develop language skills than singletons.  Sometimes this is because they are born early and are catching up, other times it's because parents are so busy trouble-shooting that they have less time to interact and communicate verbally with their children.**  Enter in the twin factor, when the twin who is speaking more first starts trying to talk for their sibling (Molly) and you can run into some speech issues.

We take time to read to our children every night before bed time, sing to them, expose them to music and talk to them as much as we can, and are increasingly trying to carve away some time to spend individually with each child, but I know that my children don't get the same level of verbal interaction as a first born singleton.  Maybe, just maybe, if I had the boob tube on a little more it would fill some of the silence and possibly help them in their language development.***

Molly in her Elmo shirt after her first haircut. 

I didn't want to tackle language issues today, although this is something that I will be writing about more over the next couple of months because I really want to share our experiences with the minions and language, development and how we're coping with some speech delays.

I wanted to talk about television and choices for our children.  I recently came across this article about how Disney has become more progressive than Sesame Street.  Yeah, I couldn't believe it either, but Disney has moved leaps and bounds beyond Sesame Street by representing a more realistic display on the various types of families that people grow up in today.(Click here to read the article). 

I never really planned on relying on television as a primary resource for teaching our children about family values, but can understand how frustrating it would be to have your family not represented or acknowledged in the media.  I've always thought of television being behind the times, tied to the values that their sponsors and advertisers demand rather than progressive.  I also plan on teaching the minions about family by exposure to the many different types of families that they interact with in their lives.  This is not a lesson I want brought to them by Corn Flakes.*****  Courtney Cox was the first person on American television to use the word "period" in the 1980's in a tampon commercial and I tend to use that as a guideline on how TV is behind the times when it comes to what is taboo and what is allowed on prime time.

Congrats Disney!  You pleasantly surprised me, however I hope this type of programming becomes mainstay rather than newsworthy.

To read my thoughts on Kevin Clash and Elmo click here

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*Usually when we're cooking or emptying the dishwasher and don't want little hands around a hot stove or dishwasher door surfing while grabbing at steak knives.
**Here is a quote on this from a Harvard Study, "Many researchers have come to the conclusion that it is not biological but social factors that are responsible for language delays. Several studies have now found that young twins receive less directed speech from their caretaker and participate in fewer situations where their attention is jointly engaged with the caretaker. Both of these situations are thought to be necessary (to some extent) for language learning. "  To view the study summary click here
***And prevent Molly for pointing at strangers on the street to call them Mommy, Daddy or even worse Dog.
*****Not that I think that Corn Flakes has issues with any specific types of "controversial" programming.

1 comment:

  1. Actually, many, many research studies have shown that television/radio does NOT help children learn language: Infants learning a first language need human face to face interaction to even distinguish between the sounds of different phonemes. They did this one cool study where they put babies (from an English speaking culture) in a room with either a television of a Mandarin-speaking woman (doing some kind of entertainment or talking about toys or something) or a real-life Mandarin speaker (doing the same thing), and then measured the babies' recognition of the different phonemes in Mandarin. The tv-kids had not learned to distinguish the sounds but the kids who had a real-life example were almost instant experts at it. Also, a friend of mine once did volunteering in Botswana with a family that had tv access to all kinds of American programming, and there were 8, 9, 10 year old kids who watched it every day their whole lives, yet they could not speak or understand ONE word of English because they'd NEVER been exposed to a human speaker. After a couple of weeks with her, they started to pick up on it.