Tuesday, January 27, 2009

TV

The role that a TV should play in a child's life is one often talked about in parenting magazine's and things of the like. The following is my thoughts on the TV dilemma and how I deal with it.
When I became a parent I noticed things I had never noticed before while watching TV. All the "bad" things on TV become more apparent.
The worst thing on TV is not what is shown on the TV shows. Sure, there is some bad language, some bad language and content not suitable for your children, but the real problem is the commercials. The goal of a commercial is convince the viewer, which the commercial sees as being a potential consumer, that they should desire the product in question. To do this advertisements put in to play all sorts of clever tricks. Advertisers have spent millions in researching how to hood wink audiences into desiring products they don't need, and otherwise would not want. The constant bombardment of effective advertisement has driven our society into a culture of over-consumers.
One major technique employed by advertisers is to make the viewer feel insecure with a promise that their insecurity can be satisfied by purchasing their product. Unhealthy and unrealistic images bombard advertisements defining for us what it means to be a man or a woman, a boy or a girl. These standards are not based off of healthy ideals, but on what convinces people to spend more money on their products.
Advertisers are smart and they know that the sooner they get the children hooked on a constant state of consumption to squelch artificial insecurities that they are likely to have customers for life. Commercials aimed at children too young to even be in school exhibit girls in lots of flashy, low-cut outfits. The clothes are always top of the line and the girls are made to look perfect. The message to the children is, "This is how you are suppose to look, and we sell the things that allow you to look this way." Children are impressionable and have no way of knowing any different. Certainly what they are seeing on the TV is much more exciting and provocative than anything you, the parent, have to offer the child.
The solution is to simply turn off the TV. However this doesn't need to mean a life with no TV. My children watch TV all the time. They just don't ever watch commercials.
We do this by buying our children's favorite shows on DVD. This provides all sorts of advantage. First it is financially sound. A minimum cable package starts at around fifty dollars a month. That's about one full season of your favorite TV show per month. By purchasing DVDs as our pocket book allows we save money, and we can watch our favorite shows when we want, not when they happen to be on.
We also suggest DVDs of our children's favorite shows as gifts for holidays. This saves us money as well.
Most of the DVDs have been ripped on to their computer and the DVD has been tucked away so that they do not become scratched or lossed over time. On a limited basis they can bring up any of their DVDs on their PC by simply clicking through a few menus. So instead of watching whatever SpongeBob episode happens to be on, at whatever time Nickelodeon happens to decide to air it, we have four full seasons of SpongeBob available to us whenever is convenient for us.