Monday, November 30, 2009


Television, the drug of the Nation
Breeding ignorance and feeding radiation

(Drug of a Nation, Disposable Heroes of Hiphoprisy)

I love TV. I have watched hours, millions of hours of it in my life. Reality TV, all the news I can get and of course, sport, sport and more sport …which reminds me, Day 1 of the 1st test against the Windies has been on for half an hour and I’ve been neglecting my obsession. (Quick score check – Australia 1 for 9, Watson the early man out, do you want my opinion on who should be at the top of order and omg, Channel 9 have a new technology toy, a heartbeat monitor to go with snicko et al – you get the picture) I’m sure I’m not alone in my hobby. I have actually shunned payTV because I do believe that you can get too much of a good thing.

I sometimes wonder whether I would have achieved differently had I harnessed the time I have dedicated to TV and applied it in a different pursuit. Definitely, I’m sure.

Skip forward to the next generation. Baby James seems to enjoy television too. Enjoy? No there is a better word, not quite love, but he’s fascinated by it. The movement, the colour, the changes in volume when something exciting happens, the music, it gets his attention all the time. Uh oh, is this a problem? Mmmmm, I’m not too sure how comfortable I am with this.

We’ve kept his hands off the remote control (that’s for daddy) and so there is an eagerness to get his hands on ‘the power’ whenever it’s left in his reach. He knows what it does, and when we have left it lying in a careless location, he’ll grab it, quick as a flash and he’ll press all of the buttons until the ‘magic’ happens. I’m often alerted to what he’s up to when I hear the clicking noise that our TV makes when its thinking about starting up or sometimes the volume suddenly increases, and I’ll think to myself, what’s going on here, oh, it’s the baby.

I’ve been mindful of the television factor since way back when. I had said to myself that I didn’t want to allow it to be a babysitter for Handsome James, but I had also said that as it’s a feature of a modern household, I didn’t believe that it should be quarantined. So, in the early days I didn’t believe that it would be harmful if Baby James had some exposure to TV. It intrigued him and I was controlling his viewing habits. And it suited me to plonk him down and let him be entertained by Iggle Piggle and his friends from In The Night Garden (Never seen it? Man, I’ve got mates from uni who loved the hooch and this program would have been right up their alley, maybe not the 9.00am edition, but certainly the repeat on ABC2 at Midday). It became part of James’ routine, In the Night Garden from 9.00am until 9.30am, while I stacked the dishwasher, cleaned the kitchen and picked up toys, then when the announcer told us it was time for bed, well, then it was a bottle and morning nap time. It seemed to work well.

I guess the morning TV routine started when he was about 3 or 4 months of age. Our Baby James was a star sitter, he possessed a good sized base as his platform and he was happy where he was put. As he has grown, he has learned about spatial awareness, and so too his understanding has also developed of TV’s relationship in HIS space. From the time he could pull himself to standing position and then walk his way around the lounge furniture, he has gravitated towards the ubiquitous TV. The cabinet places the TV at an almost perfect height for James. As he stands in front of the flickering rectangle he is able to take in and absorb the movement he sees in front of him. Trouble is, from my perspective, he resembles the kid from the Poltergeist who is in a zombie trance in front of the ‘snow’ on the box. That, I guess is the worry. It’s also a worry to me that James can be pottering away with his toys and if I use the remote to turn the TV on, that soft clicking noise that signifies ‘action’ will cause him to prick up his ears and he will turn his attention TV-ward.

Lately, it’s been the case that we cannot give James either his breakfast or dinner with the TV news as an accompaniment for ourselves. I thought kids hated the news, not so, maybe it’s the fact that what we watch is only masquerading as news and James is actually only tuning in to find out what’s been happening in the lives of Britney Speers, Lindsay Lohan, Paris Hilton et al. In any event, feeding and TV do not go together as one seems to distract the other and attempting a ‘clean’ feed is nigh on impossible when the food recipients mouth is at 45 degrees to the spoon.

I’m sure all parents find it difficult to judge the appropriate amount of TV exposure that their children should have in order to create a good balance. I’ve come to conclusion that it’s off most of the time, unless it suits me … let’s hope James enjoys cricket.


  1. TV Ben? ooooohhhhhh yeah. The Hbomb is watching Fifi now. you mentioned evolution in your previous post and that is whatour tv watching is doing, evolving at a great rate. I've had some bad days, when the tv has been on all day, but i'm glad to say that the last was the US election last year. now it is a tool, whose overuse can leave it all too easily blunted. i guess that like a lot of parents i have heard the early childhood mantra that tv is bad, that any more than one hour a day is verging on disasterous. i am a bit more sanguine about it. love to say more, but Sherbet is awake now and i am gone

  2. The real question though - Is Baby James an Antiques Roadshow fan?