Tuesday, June 14, 2011

TV Makes Your Brains Fall Out

courtesty of cartoonstock.com

In my third year of University, I was thrilled to be enrolled in a course called The Psychology of Media and its Effects on Children's Development. I had no doubts about my ability to get an A in that course. I mean really, we all know that kids who watch too much TV grow up to be sociopaths and serial killers! Right?

At that time, my first born child was a little over a year old. He was in daycare 30-40 hours per week while I went to school. He wasn't all that into TV yet.

Fast forward a few years... I had a five-year-old with special needs, a one-year-old whose constant fussiness had our neighbours concerned, and a newborn. Oh, did I mention post-partum depression? Television became my friend - especially during the dreaded after school dinner-prep hour.

I rolled my eyes at all the idealistic parents who bought into the psychobabble about the dangers of TV and video games.

Fast forward a few more years...

We have a teenager now, and four others younger than him. That teenager has the typical teen response to video games - complete and utter obsession. We cracked jokes about it, and we eventually began limiting his gaming time, but mostly viewed it as a normal teen thing. While the other four kids aren't too heavy into the games, they can vegetate in front of the screen for hours, soaking up episode after episode of Hannah Montana, Suite Life on Deck, and the like.

Due to a long series of incidents and their consequences that aren't worth explaining on thishereblog, we've implemented a couple changes. One is that the TV no longer gets turned on during the school week. The other is that all video games (with the exception of hand-held ones that are kept in my possession) are gone.

Initially, these changes were intended to serve as punishment. And I expected to be punished just as badly as the kids. What in the world would they do?! They would surely make me crazy!!!

Those changes have now become permanent decisions. Not because I think TV is evil. Not because I think it makes kids mean or dumb or violent or lazy. But because I know...that too much time watching TV and playing video games was having an effect on my kids' attitudes. I know that we needed to make a change for the benefit of our family. And I know that this change has had a positive impact on everyone in our family, including the parents.

In University, I was sure I knew it all. As a young mom, I made a total 180 and was still sure I knew it all. In both cases, I was prideful and judgemental. And wrong.

That's what I love about God. He's not content to let us stay the way we are. God knows I'm so much better at serving Him when I'm humble and too busy changing and growing to be looking at what others are doing.

You know what makes your brains fall out? Thinking you know it all, that you've got it right and everyone else has it wrong, and that your way is the only way.

Thankfully, humbling yourself before God, being willing to learn and change, and doing things that other people may not "get" or agree with will help get your brain firmly back in place.

(Thought you might like to know... That "easy A" course? Not so easy at all! In fact, after the midterm I was failing. Turns out we actually had to learn the details of the research, not just the general concept that "TV makes your brains fall out." Don't worry, I pulled it off! *wink*)

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