Television — Compliments of the Devil
April 22nd, 2010
Before I got sidetracked by all things Waldorfian, I was going to report back on the actual substance of the lecture I went to on Monday night. In a nutshell, it is this: television was created by the devil to destroy our children and all that we hold dear.
Okay, I may be exaggerating just a wee bit there, but it was an alarming presentation nonetheless. Did you know that:
1) 66% of all US households have 3 or more televisions?
2) In an average home, the TV is on for 8 hours and 14 minutes of every day?
3) The average American watches 4 hours of TV every flippin’ day?
4) There are exponentially more acts of violence per hour in children’s TV programming than in programs aimed at adults?
5) The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that children under the age of 2 watch no TV at all?
I was only aware of that last one. It was the basis for our decision to not have TV be a part of Miss Mouse’s life thus far. The Waldrof lecture was the confirmation, if I needed any, that we’d made the right decision.
Holy Cow. They cited lots of research about the correlations between kids watching too much TV and childhood obesity, and between TV watching and spikes in youth violence. Those studies are always scary, but honestly they don’t impact me all that much because I feel like I’m pretty safe from ever becoming the type of parent who allows that much TV watching.
No, the information I found most compelling was actually the discussion of the impact of TV watching on creativity among young children. The short answer? TV squashes creativity. Period. The end. Full stop.
The fixed images presented by television are so powerful and so concrete that they inhibit children’s abilities to think imaginatively. Here’s one example, drawn from the presenter’s experience as a teacher. Behold a group of little girls playing Princess. The ones who are big Disney-watchers are incapable of being anything but one of those specific princesses. They MUST be Snow White and thus MUST have the appropriately-colored cape and accessories or the game is absolutely no fun and shrieking ensues. They’ve lost the ability to pretend to be Princess Fairy-Flower or Lady Lollipop, or another creature of their own imagining. Yowza.
Now, I love Disney movies. I look forward to the day when we watch the Lion King and Finding Nemo as a family. We’re not planning to sell our TV and never again rot our brains in front of it. But it certainly makes me in no hurry to introduce Miss Mouse to the boob tube!