Today's Poetry Type:
TV is Dangerous
Television gets such a bad rap
“They” tell parents to keep kids away
That brain-sucker, that addictive trap -
“Turn it off; make them go out and play.”
Everyone knows TV is dangerous
Extinguishing the desire to learn
Except that it’s not like that for us
Excitement sparks; plentiful fuel to burn.
“Violence is glorified on television shows.”
Vilification is heaped on higher and higher.
Viewing too much is harmful, everyone knows -
But for us, it fuels learning’s bright fire.
It’s not what we’ve been led to believe
It’s not turning our brains to dead dust
Intelligent conversations dance and weave
It’s true: television’s a tool, in my kids I trust.
It’s been fashionable, as long as my kids have been alive, and longer, to bash television. If the media (ironically, often televised) are to be believed, most if not all of the world’s ills can be placed on kids watching too much TV – or, in this modern era, in allowing them too much “screen time.”
But is that really true? Are kids helpless against the evils of television or things seen on screens?
It’s not that way here, and it hasn’t been for all the years we’ve allowed the kids to watch television or use screens when and as they wish.
In our reality, television is a tool. Honestly, the kids don’t watch as much television as their parents. They tend to watch specific things they plan for, rather than “vegging out” in front of the TV.
They do use assorted screens frequently – to read, write, play games on their own and collaboratively, to research, to chat with friends and make new ones...very much the way many adults use screens, as a matter of fact.
But what about “inappropriate content?”
Well, there’s a very interesting thing that happens when kids (or anyone) has freedom. It’s not usually the free-for-all those imagining the chaos think it is. Yes, there was a period of intense watching for a while after we removed the restrictions we'd placed on "screen time," but it gradually tapered off into more natural patterns.
And they don't just watch whatever's on, whether it's right for them or not. They have the freedom to walk away or turn a show off if it's disturbing to them. They also know they can share what they watch with their parents, talk about it, and ask questions without being punished, reprimanded, or ridiculed.
With the freedom to choose when and what to watch, they want to watch things they actually enjoy watching. My son has always enjoyed animation; he went from Popeye to Kenny the Shark, Tutenstein, and Time Warp Trio; on to Family Guy. South Park, and The Simpsons when he got a bit older. Then it was on to anime like Soul Eater and Spice and Wolf, with a consistent mix of comedies (recent favorites are Scrubs and Parks and Recreation, though he's also been watching "bad movies" like A Talking Cat?!?! and The Brave Little Toaster, and he also attended a film showing of George Takei's Japanese internment camp musical, Allegiance as well as documentary previews of PBS' Hamilton's America and our local PBS station's accompanying piece, Hamilton's Albany.
As he's nearing adulthood, his tastes are maturing, as well.
My daughter was chewing through nature documentaries before she had a label for what they were; she never cared if they were oriented toward children, like Wild Kratts or Dinosaur Train, or adults, like National Geographic or Nature. She also has a fondness for horror with an edge of fashion; when she was smaller, that translated to shows like Monster High and Ruby Gloom; today, she’s very fond of the anime Death Note.