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Parenting Techniques Take Television Too Far

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Today’s children are at a total disadvantage despite the new technologies to which they have access. In fact, this advanced technology is the reason why America’s youngest generation is missing out on one of the greatest parts of their lives: childhood. Our future leaders have unwittingly allowed their young lives to be controlled by television, something that my mother never would have allowed. Gone are the days when children were outside from sunup to sundown; now their lives are dictated by TV Guide. My childhood certainly did not revolve around the idiot-box – at least not until sometime after I entered elementary school – but today’s toddlers sti mindlessly in front of the “boob tube,” and they are at an extreme disadvantage, especially in comparison with my “generation” of kids; these children no longer frolic outside in the sun or possess an adequate imagination.

When I was young – well, younger, as I am still considered to be “young” by most standards – my mother commanded me to “go outside and play” just as often as she told me to brush my teeth or eat all my vegetables. I was outside every day in the summer unless there was rain, and my neighbors and I would go swimming or organize a kickball game or do something else just as fun until dinner was ready. We were occupied, and we were out of our mothers’ way for the day. Today’s parents are more likely to plop their children in front of Barney or Drake and Josh for a few hours than to send them outside to engage in a neighborhood-wide game of Capture the Flag. Part of the reasoning behind the indoors-only mindset is to protect the child from dangers – child predators, sunburn, bee stings – which is understandable to a point; the latter two, however, are simply a part of growing up – almost a rite of passage for any child – and with proper protection they can be avoided. The other half of these parents’ “logic,” however, is a bit flawed: children are kept away from their outdoor adventures because doing so is easier for the parents. Children are stuck in front of a pixilated box for hours on end because the parental unit knows exactly where her child will be when she needs him, and the television keeps him out of her way while she does her “mom things.” When the pattern is started at too young an age, a child’s backyard can be as foreign and as terrifying as the Amazon Rain Forest, and a lifetime of couch potato-ing is almost guaranteed. America is seen as a “fat country” because her children are growing up without seeing the outside world for themselves. Obesity is on the rise because children watch life in a box instead of going outside and living it for themselves. By sticking their children in front of a television, today’s parents are harming their children in a way that mine never did – the children’s time outside in the sun shrinks, and their health slowly sinks along with it.

These children raised by TV will inevitably suffer from a lack of imagination – every story that they hear will be told through television, and they will never have the ability to go outside and play Pretend with the kids down the street because they are unable to invent things for themselves. When my friends and I were outside, we made up our own games all the time; sure, we had those inevitable childhood games of House and Family, but we quickly branched out to Animals and, when we were swimming, Mermaids (all unique and original creations, I might add). Later, after a marathon of Calvin and Hobbes comic books one rainy week, we attempted our own version of Calvinball – a game where the only rule is that there are no rules. We had a game where we would roll different sized balls down our driveway and try to kick them back up onto the street – a game we aptly called Driveway Kick – that eventually turned into a non-magical version of Quidditch, thanks to the Harry Potter series. True, many of our inspirations came from books, but we possessed the imaginations to relate fantasy to real life. Television shows of today are literally zapping children of their ability to create new and fun games. Traditional games of Tag on the playground during recess have been replaced by recreations of the latest episode of Wizards of Waverly Place or a comparison of Hannah Montana memorabilia. “Games” are no longer the creations of the imagination that kept kids occupied for hours on end but are instead digital fantasies played out on shiny, new game consoles or super-fast computers. This lack of imagination carries through to adulthood and can be seen even now in today’s adults and teens; the American film industry has recently seen a decline in fresh ideas, and we have begun to piggyback on British TV shows and Bollywood films because we can no longer invent plotlines on our own. Today’s novelists are revisiting classic literature – Romeo and Juliet is one of the most popular and can be seen in books like Twilight, among others – or stealing ideas from other contemporary writers and tweaking them to fit themselves – again, Twilight is a prime example; hundreds of writers have jumped on the vampire/immortal life/forbidden love concept, hoping to appeal to the legion of Twilight fans and skyrocket to fame and, more importantly, fortune. Remakes of old books and films have become both common and acceptable, and new ideas are relatively rare – we have even turned to the comic book genre with movies like X-Men and The Fantastic Four. When new ideas are introduced, they are often cast aside or ruined during production – Gigli and personal favorite I’ll Be Home for Christmas are prime examples; they both tanked at the box office. As today’s children become tomorrow’s the screenwriters and novelists, I expect to see fewer original ideas and more “revivals” of old television shows and movies. Because children are mesmerized by the TV, they are literally trapped in a creative box, and their ability to invent things on their own has diminished. Mindless television prevents children from thinking on their own – TV shows pose questions to the audience to make them think but almost always resolve the problem within a twenty-three minute time frame. Kids no longer make deductions on their own or attempt to figure out what will happen in the next episode of Word Girl because they know that, eventually, the writers are going to answer all of those questions. Children who begin to watch television at a young age do not learn to think for themselves and almost always have an underdeveloped imagination. Television is poisoning the potential creativity contained in a young mind, and parents need to put a Mr. Yuck sticker on the remote control to prevent others from ingesting it as well.

The television is a dangerous device designed to destroy a youth’s developing mind. Today’s parents have taken advantage of the simplicity of the appropriately-named “boob tube” and are sacrificing their children’s health – both physically and mentally – by plunking their children in front of it in lieu of making them play outside with their friends or helping them make up stories to entertain themselves. Today’s “adults” need to look to their elders for child-rearing advice; elementary-school-aged kids are leading very different lives than my friends and I did when we were that age, and I truly believe that we are far better off despite their technological advantages. The parents of today need to take a closer look at the way they are raising their children and reconsider the use of the television as a crutch in the parenting system. Ultimately, the parent is the decision-maker for the child; their choices today will affect the minds of tomorrow, and this new generation of parents needs to reexamine its techniques before America is filled with nothing but a bunch of mindless, television-induced drones.




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This article has 10 comments. Post your own!

SunshineIntheGround said...
Dec. 7, 2012 at 10:54 am:
I agree with this so much. I can't stand all those disney shows for one reason- they.are.so.stupid. The kids are treating the adults without any proper respect (Another thing going down the drain). I don't go outside a whole lot, mostly because there is like.... nobody in the neighborhood and the ones that are there, teen drug addicts or have a serious lack of respect. But I do go outside. I go outside to walk around, and kick and punch a martial arts standing target I have in the back... (more »)
 
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ZeeBYoung said...
Aug. 7, 2011 at 11:10 am:
Well, nowadays their are more reasons people are staying inside on the computer and tv more. The world is crazier than it used to be. With 1000s of kids going missing everyday, and people like rapists and child molestors seeming to be running rampant, its no wonder people would be staying inside. The world isnt as safe as it used to be.
 
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WTCTheRedGlove said...
Aug. 20, 2010 at 1:37 pm:
True. Ironically enough, parents that try to protect their children from harm are often doing the most damage.
 
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smileysmackdown said...
Apr. 7, 2010 at 4:13 pm:
It's sad how true everything you wrote really is. My brother spends most of his time watching the TV nowadays. I can still remember how much fun we used to have outside. Gosh, times have sure changed.
 
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Sara! said...
Feb. 3, 2010 at 7:29 am:
OH.MY.GOSH. You stole the words right out of my mouth. I COMPLETELY agree with this. By the way, you are a really good writer and you can get your point across very well. Keep on writing!
 
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Schubster said...
Sept. 27, 2009 at 7:47 pm:
Good insight! I agree with most of it, except the recreating of stories and plotlines...ultimately, no stories can ever be unique anymore, since all the plotlines every created have been exploited. I read about this idea from the book: Reading Literature like a Professor....pardon my rambling, but that was the only debatable thing I saw here. For the record, I was one of those kids my mom sent me out everyday to play :P keep up the great work!!
check out my work?
 
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Danielle.K said...
Sept. 23, 2009 at 5:19 pm:
I agree with most of these points. I too had thought about what technology is doing to kids now a days. It's very refreshing knowing that someone else things the same way.
 
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tim B. said...
Jun. 17, 2009 at 10:17 pm:
ok, your calling video games unimaginative. Do you realize how much imagination you need to make even a CRAPPY plotline? Now, there are games like Barney etc that have now imagination, but the games that people actually like, such as halo, gears of war, assassins creed, require HUGE amounts of imagination. Now i know i sound like some nerd who only plays games, but come on, i still have imagination, and i still read a whole lot. And i may be pale as all s***, but i still go out every day! crist,... (more »)
 
rookiecowgirl replied...
May 2, 2010 at 2:49 pm :

1. Learn proper grammar/spelling before insulting someone else's well-written article.

2. She did not say anyone was mentally ill. Ever. Her point was that kids are losing their own imaginative skills as a result of watching tv all day. As for "dying of heatstroke"... I'm outside a good portion of the day, and I've never had any health issues as a result. Actually, it's kept me healthier and more physically fit.

I agree 100% with this article... what bothers me the most are the ... (more »)

 
numbernine replied...
Oct. 25, 2010 at 7:34 pm :
As for the "imagination needed to create the crappy plotline"...since when do kids create the video games? I didn't know they did. I thought it was adult video game designers.
 
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