We’ve all been there… we need to do the washing up, take a quick shower, answer a few emails, or simply take five minutes to ourselves. So, we pop the telly on for the kids. Then, when they’re happily watching an hour later – even though we’ve done the dishes, showered, put a load of washing in, prepped dinner and had a cup of coffee – we suddenly feel guilty.
Am I a bad parent? Shouldn’t I be playing games and interacting with my child? What will people think when they find out my child has spent the best part of an afternoon in front of the box? While some may frown, others may criticise and a lucky few may have nothing else to do other than play, bake, craft and entertain their kids, TV can actually benefit your children in many ways.
Depending on what you let them watch, of course, many TV programmes have educational benefits, and are tailored to certain age groups. For some children, TV is their first (and maybe only) exposure to different parts of the world, different cultures and nature. Take Dora the Explorer, for example (if you’re singing ‘I’m the map, I’m the map’ right now, you’re not alone). Not only does she introduce young children to a different language, she also interacts with them and encourages memory and problem solving skills.
Watching historical or nature programmes allows children to get close to species and events they may never see – while pictures in books are highly beneficial, TV brings these things to life. There are also programmes dedicated to different cultures and diversity – watching these on the telly can allow children to see how people live on the other side of the world, which can be a fun and enlightening learning experience.
TV can also provide families with an opportunity to spend quality time together. In a fast-paced world and hectic schedules, sitting down together to watch telly as a family can be a relaxing and bonding experience for all. For siblings, who may argue and squabble as bedtime approaches and they become tired any tetchy, this time can mentally engage them and be a refreshing experience all round.
While we live in a highly PC world, many of us (oldies) were brought up on cartoons where, effectively, the characters would chase after each other and bash them over the head with something. It never made me want to take a frying pan to the head of anyone and a little exposure to this isn’t going to harm the new generation. I’ll never forget the first time my son slapped his thigh in a wildly animated way, while clutching his stomach and tears streaming down his face… when he watched his first episode of Tom and Jerry. Frown all you want, I cried with laughter too that day, and it’s a memory that’ll stick with me forever.