Ban the box?

October 13, 2009

Interesting news from Australia, where a Government-sponsored report  is saying that children under the age of 2 should not watch telly. My immediate, cheap, thought is that, in the land that gave us Neighbours, probably the Government should ban everyone from watching telly. But actually, I love Neighbours and so do my girls.

I do try and limit our exposure to telly, though – hence the cupboard which I’ve made such a big fuss over and which I am, still, madly thrilled with. Somehow, stopping our sitting room from being dominated by that big, black, blank box has made it a room with thousands more possibilities. I’ve even – gasp – caught the girls reading there!

I remember when I first gave up work to look after Child One full time (initially I’d gone back to the newspaper I was working on for three days a week). I asked one of the mothers in the playground, in a semi-joking way, what on earth I could do to occupy my lovely little one, who was then rubbing mud into her hair with the ferocious concentration that only a fourteen-month-old has. She looked at me as though I was from Mars. ‘Television, of course,’ she said.

I was mildly surprised, but I did remember having read stuff about a new phenonmenon sweeping the nation’s cots at the time – Tellytubbies. I duly sat down with little Child One and we watched. She loved it. She loved it so, so much that, when the baby in the sun said goodbye at the end, and sank down beyond the horizon, she burst into tears.

It showed me how real television was to her and, consequently, how powerful it could be. Ever since then, I have rationed what they see, and still do, even though the cries of ‘oh Mummmmmmm’ still ring out. All their friends, they tell me, watch hours of telly, have TVs in their own rooms, and regularly watch 15 and even 18 certificate films.

Mine have now watched the occasional 15, like Love Actually, and I do adore taking them to mindless romcoms at the cinema, but I am glad I’ve never given in completely to wall-to-wall telly, or scary, violent stuff. I’m very conscious, now, of sounding smug, but I’m not – God knows I’ve made some crashing mistakes as a mother and as for my private life, I’ll just say arrrghhhhhh! But I do believe there’s enough rough stuff going on in the real world without watching it on telly at home.

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  • Liz October 13, 2009 at 8:53 am

    Interesting. I posted a post re this this morning. Great minds!

    • Dulwich Divorcee October 13, 2009 at 11:53 am

      Great minds indeed!! I shall pop over and see if we agree ……….

  • Chic Mama October 13, 2009 at 9:25 am

    Oh those were the days…Teletubbies. I remember watching it for the first time and being appalled at the time- what a dumbing down programme. Now my number five has just started watching it.
    We have Sky and I read the riot act when girls 10 & 6 watch those terrible American programmes on The Disney Channel….I need to start monitoring it like you do. None of them watch soaps etc…though, can’t stand them myself.

    • Dulwich Divorcee October 13, 2009 at 11:52 am

      Ah, that’s how you spell it! I couldn’t remember. Amazing you have five!! I am exhausted with two who basically now run themselves (kind of). I wouldn’t worry about Disney, they’re usually as good as babysitters …the soaps I should be a lot more vigilant about, but I love them myself!

  • Bluestocking Mum October 14, 2009 at 2:10 am

    I’m fairly strict about TV in our house too. We have the 7 o’clock rule during the week – TV doesn’t get turned on until 7pm.

    Like you, I find most of the Disney/Nick programmes pretty harmless. Youngest loves Keenan and Kel/I Carly etc. But more often than not this is the one time of day that he and I read together and/or sit down to watch TV with him – something like Animal rescue or Ben Fogles extreme adventures/Countryfile.

    The eldest (16 year old ‘Idle Jack’) is slightly more tricky to police. Again I always try to sit with him at 9pm and find something we both like – The Bill or a Drama/documentary/nature programme. At the weekends we’ll watch a film with him on a Saturday evening but I will confess, sometimes hubby and I are shattered and want to go to bed before him so we leave him up! We have parental filters and pin numbers, otherwise we have to trust him.


    • Dulwich Divorcee October 16, 2009 at 8:11 am

      Sounds like you have really sorted your views out on this one. Can be squirmy watching TV now with Child One – I know that she knows, etc, when there’s any sort of frisson of sex! I don’t know who finds this more embarrassing! x

  • Yummy Mammy October 14, 2009 at 12:09 pm

    Ohhhhhh, you’ve had the decorators in. Lovin the new look.

    Small child watches many a thing she shouldn’t, although I suppose Eastenders isn’t before the water shed, and I did once catch her with her finger on the play button and Sex in the City in the DVD player. Whoops.

    BTW – I got divorced on Monday 🙂

    • Dulwich Divorcee October 16, 2009 at 8:08 am

      Oh, Yummy – many congrats on finally being divorced (I think – never know whether it’s good or bad really!) Anyway, it’s been a long haul and glad you are now at the end of that one! Yes, my girls caught a glimpse of Sex and the City once, their eyebrows were glued to their hairlines! Luckily they still find sex revolting/embarrassing …..xx

  • Crystal Jigsaw October 19, 2009 at 10:07 am

    Used to love Tellytubbies in this house – had all the daft dolls scattered everywhere and millions of videos (b4 dvd’s). Couldn’t live without the telly though!

    CJ xx