Why is "play video continuously" an option on children's DVD menus?
Truly, people, I ask you.
This is the ultimate in Television as a Baby-sitter Syndrome. Not only do our children sit in front of a box all day without blinking, but we cannot even be bothered to push the play button again. Ho.Ly. Crap.
In our recent jaunt to the States, I was horrified to see televisions in the shopping carts. Can we not do ANYTHING without electrical stimulation? We also bought a car while we were there. (Random, I know. End-of-the-year sales and all. We practically stole a brand-new Honda Odyssey. Go to the Honda dealer in Murray.) Anyway, I swear the sales guy almost had me put in a straight jacket when I requested a van without a DVD player.
Some of my favorite childhood memories were our family road trips. Notice I said trips - not destinations. (All kids ever remember is the hotel pool, anyway.) Sure we fought. Five kids in a van for twenty hours does not familial bliss make. BUT - we had a ball, too. Endless games, books, conversation and rounds of "I Know an Old Lady."
What will our kids remember? How many times they watched SpongeBob?
All too often I meet kids who just don't know how to play. We recently had a play date with two little boys just my kids' age. They immediately wanted to watch TV. I said no - that they were here to play. My Boyz enthusiastically showed them their swords, bow and arrows, play dough, farm, race tracks, etc. But "you be the bad guy, I'll be the good guy" was just totally lost on them. Little Prince and Ouro Branco tried many different games - from play kitchen to plain ole tag - and the other two just sat there, complaining that "this is boooooring." They truly did not know how to interact creatively with other children.
Disclaimer: my kids do watch movies. Shoot, I love movies. (Especially movie line challenges.) Our video collection is currently overflowing the designated two baskets and drawer, and my favorite place to stop at Wal-mart is the five buck movie bin. Little Prince, especially, will watch pretty much anything that moves on a screen if you let him. He loves Cars, Sesame Street, Robin Hood, Peter Pan, Finding Nemo - good films and shows, all. Some teach morals. Some are educational. Some are just good plain fun.
But we're talking maximum one movie a day, maybe 3-4 times a week. Tops. Sometimes days go by without us even looking at the television. One time the TV was broken for two weeks and I didn't even know it. Instead, my kids play. REALLY play.
And yet the national statistic still remains at 4-5 hours of television per day. And that's during the school year. No wonder these kids don't know how to play - they don't have time to.
I don't think there's anything wrong with relaxing in front of a good show sometimes. To be entertained. As long as our children don't lose the ability to entertain themselves.