With school out during the Winter Holidays, parents can expect that their children may want to watch more television. But at an age when children are forming themselves, preparing for the lives they will lead, what models is television giving them? What preparation for life can be found in Sponge Bob Square Pants? Perhaps because so many shows have such inane titles and formats, we don’t take them seriously. They’re harmless, we think. But children don’t watch or listen halfheartedly. They absorb whatever the television gives—enmity, jealously, insanity, and terror. How can a child process the feelings portrayed on TV?
Montessori describes a child’s acceptance of stimulation as she contrasts it with adults:
“Impressions pour into us (adults) and we store them in our minds; but we ourselves remain apart from them, just as a vase keeps separate from the water it contains. Instead, the child undergoes a transformation. Impressions do not merely enter his mind; they form it. They incarnate themselves in him.”
Please scrutinize each program your child wishes to see before giving them permission. At a symposium at John Hopkins University, it was stated that, “Children in the U.S. are spending at least one-third of their waking hours in a works of conflict, violence, mayhem, and murder”. In addition, the AMA (American Medical Association) has just concluded that any television before the age of two is detrimental towards the child’s development.
A child in front of a TV set is passive, waiting, watching. That’s no way to live, much less learn to live, and that’s a child’s business. He should be building, creating, making—actively engaged in his world.
How about limiting your child’s TV time to a half hour a day at most? It may sound revolutionary, but try it for two weeks and see if the children aren’t more contained and more relaxed, possibly thinking more for themselves than they have. And as children play together, the aggression should decrease as the exposure to violence is stopped. As parents and teachers, we’re obviously concerned about are children. What will they be like at 14? Will their values be mine? As a child builds his priorities and values, he looks to all the models in his environment—including those on television. Let’s narrow the field by turning off the TV.