When Jaylen was a year old, he had a tendency to become addicted to certain things. We didn’t know it was Autism yet, but knew him not connecting with us, retreating into his own world, and filling and dumping buckets for hours was strange. I can still hear his first home therapist’s nervous and appalled laughter as she told me not to let him fill and dump or play with dirt for more than a half hour. Who knew? I thought he was just really independent.
One of his “things” was TV. He loved certain shows and could watch Noggin (now Nick Jr.) for hours on end. I always judged those parents who let the TV babysit their kids before I had kids of my own. For us, the only alternative to tantrums, self injurious behavior, the constant filling and dumping, or spinning in circles was TV. So we let him watch.
Fast forward 4 years and Jaylen is really not into TV much at all. He will request an episode of SpongeBob most days. According to him, “I don’t watch little kid shows anymore, just big kid ones.” Which is crap because as soon as Xavi is watching a “little kid” show his eyes are glued to the screen.
In the winter, we watch more TV out of cabin fever and boredom. Now the weather is nice, we are out most of the day, and when we come in the TV just stays off. As long as they are not asking for it, why use it? Every once in a while they will be hyper or fighting and TV is a good way to calm them down. Sometimes I need to get work done and the TV does babysit for a half hour. Overall, it does feel good to find other things to do besides TV.
Am I one of those people that thinks TV rots kids’ brains? No.
Do I think it may affect their attention span? Yes.
Can we find other things for our kids to do to get exercise, interact socially, and learn actively? Easily.
But do I love when I get a minute to myself as Chuggington is blaring from the playroom? Absolutely.