Monday, April 7, 2008

Kids & TV Watching

Our daughter loves to watch TV - be it Elmo, Backyardigans, Curios George which is one of her favorites, Dora, etc. More recently, she is crazy about movies and the song and dance routines in them (Indian movies). She loves to dance along with the songs in the movies and can actually do a move or two!

Shutting the TV off when she is watching will make her red-faced and her eyes full of tears and she will flop on the carpet with her palms banging on them crying 'TeeeVeeee........'. A funny sight indeed!

She is also a very poor eater of lunch/dinner at home. When we give her food (rice or chapati which is Indian tortilla made of whole wheat, along with veggies and lentil soup, etc.), she eats only the chapatis, leaving the rest of the food untouched. By chance one day we realized that this wasn't the case when the TV is turned on for her entertainment. At this point, we can easily blackmail her into eating all of her food and be assured that she will finish everything and then some more!

What is it about the TV that makes her succumb to our earnest requests to her to eat her food? On the condition that she can watch the song and dance routines, she displays exemplary behavior which basically means that she listens to what we say to her :-)

What is it about the TV that captivates kids? I don't know if we can generalize this habit for a large population of kids of course. My wife and I sometimes feel very guilty about what we are doing and keep thinking what we are doing here is not right for our child -- letting her watch too much TV (she watches about an hour and 15 mins of TV each day which we think is a lot). But we have been so far giving in to the apparent benefit its providing us -- she eats her lunch/dinner.

Does anyone else have a similar experience? Does anyone have other alternatives that can be used to make sure that the child is able to eat her food properly and at the right time? Agreed, TV is an important medium of entertainment and education based on the shows that are available for growing kids, but just how much is enough? Where does one draw the line?