The other day at work, I was talking to our fiction buyer about something when I got distracted by a box full of plush Sesame Street toys sitting on her counter. Our conversation turned toward Sesame Street and it’s value as a teaching tool for young children. My coworker reminisced about an experience at a parade where she was able to recognize many of the character (both Muppet and Human) who passed by on the Sesame Street float. I mentioned that my girls have yet to be introduced to Sesame Street as we never converted over to digital television when the switch happened a few years back.
Now, I don’t have anything against television, per se. I grew up as a couch potato and I credit my television viewing as a major factor in understanding pop culture references not only from my generation, but from my parents’ and grandparents’ as well. But shortly before the birth of our oldest daughter, I saw a report that compared the brain activity to a baby watching television to the brain activity of a person under the influence of crack cocaine and found startling similarities. It didn’t make a big difference for us, since the only thing that our television plays is fuzz, but it did start us thinking about how, when, and if we should introduce our kids to the miracle of television.
I really believe that there are quality programs out there. Shows that are educational and imaginative. Shows that allow the viewers to see sights that normal life would never reveal. I’m all about these shows. And while our television only picks up fuzz, our computer does not, and most of these shows are available free of charge from places like hulu.com anyway.
And so we haven’t made any decisions yet regarding television for our daughters. I believe we still have time before they’ll start asking us why we won’t let them watch. After all, our oldest is still working on complete sentences.
In the meantime, we have books. And our daughters love books! And my wife and I love that our daughters love books! And if in the end, they don’t have any great love for television because we did not introduce it early enough for them to be truly addicted, oh well. I would rather have them with their noses in books anyway.
If any of you reading this have successfully navigated the treacherous waters of television and have any wisdom to share, please post a comment below!