You have no TV??”
I get that question many times when I have guests at home.
And no, I do not have a TV at home. Probably the only household in the developed world without a TV. When we moved to Hong Kong we brought with us our 42 inch TV from London. To hang it on the the wall, I had to hire a guy to do it because the walls were not strong enough to endure the weight of the TV. This guy charged me per hole… 16 of them… a very hefty amount. After two years, when we left the flat, I realised that we had not even turned the TV on once. Refusing to pay again for another drill job, I just decided not to have a TV. It has been over three years now.
But that does not mean my children do not “watch TV”. It is not that I am one of those die-hard mums who treat TV time as if it was a menace to the survival of the human race. These mums often have a TV at home, but keep the remote control under key with the same fear and care as if it was a real gun and, if by any chance, a TV is turned on in front of their children, they run away from it as if a deadly virus was to come out of these horrible screens. They make you feel you are a horrible horrible horrible mother neglecting your children when they catch your children watching something in the iPad in public and immediately give you that look of “I am doing it right, you are doing it wrong”.
But to them I say indeed I think TV is not bad for children if properly managed. In fact, I am really surprised how much technology (and that included iPad and other screens) my children use at school. It is rare the day they do not spend some time in front of a screen at school, whether for their math lessons or to prepare them for a fire drill, as they did last Friday. In Hong Kong, some schools even sell themselves as “one laptop per children from age 6”. So, how can TV and computers be bad at home and absolutely wonderful at school?
It is because what is bad for children is not to watch TV or look at a screen, what is bad is what they stop doing sometimes they dedicate time to watch TV. It is fine if you learn your letters watching Alphablocks, but it is bad if you spend your afternoon watching a super hero hit people instead of being yourself hitting a ball in the playground.
The good thing of iPads (or any other computer) versus TVs is that you control much better the quality of what they are watching. There is no turning on the TV and left on whatever is on at that time by default. In the iPads (or in any other computer), you need to charge whatever they are supposed to watch. And that makes you a bit more picky. I have my list of “academic driven” videos I encourage them to watch. My list starts with Leapfrog’s series of learn to read videos and ends with Syd the Science Kid, our last addition.
So, here it is. Yes, my children watch TV and I do not see any problem with it. Do you?