Children and TV - loll and slop...as Roald Dahl wrote...
I came across a poem by Roald Dahl the other day regarding TV. A few extracts from this poem illustrate the point that Dahl is making.
“We've watched them gaping at the screen.
They loll and slop and lounge about,
And stare until their eyes pop out. ..
They sit and stare and stare and sit
Until they're hypnotised by it …
Oh yes, we know it keeps them still,
They don't climb out the window sill,
They never fight or kick or punch,
They leave you free to cook the lunch …
But did you ever stop to think,
To wonder just exactly what
This does to your beloved tot?
IT ROTS THE SENSE IN THE HEAD!
IT KILLS IMAGINATION DEAD!
IT CLOGS AND CLUTTERS UP THE MIND!
IT MAKES A CHILD SO DULL AND BLIND
HE CAN NO LONGER UNDERSTAND
A FANTASY, A FAIRYLAND!
While agreeing with Dahl, I did not think much more about this poem until I watched a child at play while his mother was busy. He entertained himself with some pretty, coloured stones, some small plastic figures and a few cars. From these he created a fantasy world. When I commented on this his mother said, without my asking, that he seldom watched TV, just the occasional film or children’s programme.
So this got me thinking once again about children and TV. TV does keep them quiet, but it also keeps their brains passive. They don’t have to use their imaginations as the constant pictures on the screen do it all for them. They have no chance to make up their own stories and to invent their own fantasy world as it is all done for them. Besides this passive harm that too much TV can do to children, there is a more sinister side as it also instills dubious values in our children if they are watching inappropriate programmes such as soapies that often portray undesirable behaviour such as sleeping around, smoking and drinking.
So what do we do as parents?
Firstly we could make a point of switching the TV off except for when there is a programme we really want to watch. An then monitor whether it is suitable for your child. You need to set the example by not mindlessly watching everything on TV.
Secondly, if you do allow TV, let your children choose one or two programmes that they want to watch, that are suitable and have an educational or at least good entertainment value. Make sure that the programmes are suitable for their age and experience and understanding.
Thirdly, limit the amount of TV they watch. Children should not be watching TV for more than an hour a day and much better if it is less than that. They need to play actively outside, to play imaginatively, to do puzzles, to build with blocks and to read books to mention just a few things.
And a last word of advice. If your children are at a crèche, there should be books for them to read, rather than a TV for them to watch.