The great Greek philosopher Plato often asserted that too much of a good thing was not only bad, but dangerous. This, in today’s context, could be the ever-present TV, the eternal baby-sitter, or surrogate mother, is also everyone’s vicarious magic potion. That there’s a flip side to TV is obvious. TV has not only battered our values, it has marginalised old-fashioned conversation, at home and outside of it, including good habits, like reading, or watching a play. Our families have not only retreated into a shell to watch separate programmes; they have also gone into voluntary isolation, or cultural apartheid. Put simply, TV has chomped up so much of our time. It has, in so doing, left a whole generation bleary-eyed and impatient. Yet, not many people complain.
There’s a monumental treasure trove of programmes on TV given the total volume of pro-gaming, and sitting in front of this riveting electronic fireside. It’s a paradox: While there’s substantial evidence to support the thought that TV viewing can connect our children, our future, to society, TV can, as studies also suggest and corroborate, promote aggressiveness and obesity at the same time. So, the big question: What to do? Answer — just regulate your kids’ TV viewing.
It isn’t as easy as it sounds though, but you need not be a rocket scientist, or psychologist, to discover your child’s personal learning style, or interests. The best way to bring balance is by giving your child the opportunity to learning what they do best and slowly weaning them away from too much TV viewing.
Picture this. TV viewing in excess, as research suggests, is harmful for your kids. On the other hand, TV viewing may also be advantageous — because, TV and computer/video games connect children to the community. To deprive your child of access to what other children are engaged in puts them at a disadvantage, when they go to school or play with friends. Or, even hear them discussing TV shows, or video-games, they have never seen.
So, what is the remedy? Behavioural experts suggest that you limit rather than eliminate your children’s TV watching and video game-play. One hour a day during the school week and not more than two hours on weekends, they aver, would be a reasonable goal to achieve for your child’s TV viewing. Besides this, one would do well to find out what interests your child has and, thereafter, promote a strong physical programme aimed at fulfilling your child’s likings and dislikes. It’s ideal to provide your child the opportunity to learn what they do best. You could, with good effect, use background music to focus and calm — if your child is hyperactively-sensitive. But, remember: The music you use should be soft and soothing. Not something that is too noisy or loud. Also, don’t forget to remove allergens from your child’s diet. Because, what may be eating or affecting, your child could be what your child is eating.
Now, the most important thing. If you could only achieve this balance, half of the battle is won. For your good and also your child’s good. This will, in due course of time, become a channel for promoting good behaviour and useful skills rather than pills. As philosopher Johann Wolfgang von Goethe said, “Treat people as if they were what they ought to be, and you will help them to become what they are capable of being.” This timeless aphorism applies equally well to us, our kids, their sensitivities, or sensibilities, and also their TV viewing.
(The writer is a wellness physician, independent
researcher and author)
Rajgopal Nidamboor