Friday, February 22, 2013


I think it's brought the world a lot closer together, and will continue to do that. 
There are downsides to everything; there are unintended consequences to everything. 
The most corrosive piece of technology that I've ever seen is called television - but then, again, television, at its best, is magnificent. 
- Steve Jobs

I am of the opinion that TV is not all bad and certainly not all good. It depends on what and how much of it you watch. Restricted TV hours is the norm in my house. I am not a regular TV watching person. But there are times when I use it to experience visually what I cannot in person. Like travel shows, or the Olympics or masterpiece theatre (okay, I know, had to sneak that one in :-)) But I cannot stand it as background noise. It grates on my nerves. A colossal waste of energy I think. Not to mention the assault on my senses.

For a long time I had wished for the TV to be relegated to the most uncomfortable space in our home, if at all, instead of as a centre piece in a living space. But my perspective changed when I had kids. Despite being aware of the negative influence of TV, I have to admit that I am guilty of using it as a babysitter. Especially when the kids were younger. A convenient way to find some peace and quiet for myself. It was easier to get things done around the house. Though they were only allowed to watch programs on public television, I still did resort to it. It also came in handy when I was struggling to feed the kids what I wanted them to eat. I used TV as a crutch so I can shove the food down their mouths. They wouldn’t even know it and I can revel in the feeling that they had nourishing food that day. Mindful eating can wait. But when they were old enough and independent at the dinner table, I realized it was time to draw up some TV rules.

The new rule was simple and easy to remember - Absolutely No TV during the week. Including dinner time. When the kids started school, the house was quiet in the evenings so they could do their schoolwork without distractions. Weekdays were solid and still remain so. It is the weekends that I can’t seem to get a grip on. Saturday evenings and Sundays, if we are home and don’t have company, become a free for all - we fight over every available electronic device and the bandwidth to use them. These days TV time has morphed into TV/movie/video game time.

The main problem is that none of us like to watch the same shows or movies. My kids have their own likes and dislikes and since their video time is rationed, they are pretty picky about what they want to watch. And to make it worse, I can’t stand to watch what they are interested in. Either I have already watched it a million times over or it is just too juvenile for my tastes. I would much rather use that time to either watch a movie that I can’t watch with them or do something else that interests me. So I leave the kids in peace and I have mine. Convenient arrangement.

Except I cannot shake off the nagging doubt that it is not quite right. To be scattered in different corners of the house each glued to our own devices. As a family, we spend plenty of time together. But I cannot escape the guilt of squandering this big chunk of time with the kids. Especially when it isn’t available to us during weekdays. Weekday schedules dictate a faster pace. 
It is a constant rush to get things done, to get the kids to do something they are supposed to do or to shuttle them somewhere they have to be. Lounging around is impossible. So when we do get the time to unwind, it feels wrong that we cannot find common ground. And have to resort to our own spaces instead. Maybe my kids are just growing up. Maybe they are finding their individuality. Learning to make decisions - choosing your own entertainment even within a given range of choices is a big deal at this age. Maybe our influence as parents will hold good, maybe not.

I guess it is just like anything else with parenting. You second guess yourself to death. I try to find solace in the fact that my kids don’t spend as much time on mindless entertainment as an average person in this country does, according to statistics anyway. And that’s what statistics does - it either makes you feel like you are not in this alone or it makes you heave a sigh of relief that you are not as bad you thought you were.

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