When Chas was one, he watched one TV show every day: "Bear in the Big Blue House", which was, at the time, a lovely show. (We saw it again recently, and it has become a short-attention-span, dull show. No more storyline, no more Ojoe and Pip and Pop.)
When Chas was nearly two, and Sam was six months old, we moved house (but stayed on the same street, pretty much), and decided to leave TV behind. Forever.
Everything that I had read about the harm that TV does to little growing minds helped to make the decision easy, and although Sean missed his fave shows, he backed me up. We lived ON the beach, so entertainment was never hard to come by. Chas was (is!) a very hyper child, and watching TV actually seemed to wind him up more. (says Chasbo's teacher: "I have never SEEN such a high-energy child!")
Having no TV has been fantastic! Our kids love to read, play chess and any other game they can get their hands on, build models and Lego, and just lie back in the hammock and look up into the trees. "hey, look! A woodpecker!" Their teachers are always saying how communicative, and just plain brilliant they are. They seldom see on-screen images of kids being rude to adults. They never ever complain of being bored, ever. There is always something to do, or... Do nothing! It shocks me the way many kids CAN'T do "nothing". Thinking. Inventing. Coming up with secret codes and thought-experiments. I think that not having a TV has been the best decision we have ever made for our kids.
Of course, our "no TV at home" policy extends to video games, game boy, and... Until now... Computers.
There are computers at school, and my parents have one which the boys may use occasionally. They have some lovely games: Dr. Seuss, and the like.
Sean has a laptop, for work, and recently, wireless internet connection via his phone.
I have had a Blackberry since last Christmas, which I needed for keeping in touch with my sister, friends and family in far-off lands. I have become a Blackberry virtuosa, posting blog entries and searching the net like a maniac. It takes great pictures, and has helped me to organise my life and work. Even my main grocery list is on Blackberry. I am using it now, to type this! Then I will copy and paste it to my blog and email a copy to my non-bloggy sister. I take pictures of work-in-progress and email them to clients. My Blackberry reminds me to take the kids to the dentist. The kids use the internet search for homework and to answer their many questions, and they email friends and family too. Even 6-year-old Max has learned to "text"!
So you see, the media is creeping into our lives. And surprisingly, our middle son Sam is a complete whiz with a computer. He has been called out of his class by a flustered teacher, to go and fix her computer, and has a full understanding of how and why they work. He installs programs, and wins at games. Strange for someone who hardly ever sees a computer, I think.
Now, Santa may bring us a super-dooper computer for Christmas, with all the bells and whistles. We will have internet access, in our home. The screen will be sitting there, beckoning us, all day and all night. In the kitchen. How will this affect our lives? How should I limit the kids' screen time? Will it be a fantastic educational tool, opening up new avenues for learning? Or will the kids use their time downloading free poker games from the net (as Sam has done with my Blackberry, the little hacker) and fighting over who had a turn already (as happens at my parents house)?
I have no previous media-limiting experience here. Is half an hour at a sitting too much time? Not enough? This is a dictatorship here, people. I need limits for my little minions. Parents of the internet, lend me your experience!