TV & the Imagination

Joey’s getting to the age where he’s making up his own stories. It’s fun to watch and hear him narrate. Lately though my husband and I have noticed one thing we don’t like too much, oftentimes instead of coming up with his own story or naming a toy he copies a story he sees from a movie.

For example, the other week we met my husband on his lunch break for a walk in the woods (it’s actually just a walking trail, but secluded enough it feels like the “real” woods) and Joey began to pick up different sticks. He’s always picking up sticks.

Joey and my husband both found some large sticks (and my large I mean branches) and talked about how they were looking for dragons.

On the way back we were talking about getting the dragon and asked Joey what its name was. Joey’s first response was, “It’s the girl dragon,” which is how he refers to the dragon in Shrek. We asked him again and his second response was “Elliot” from Pete’s Dragon.

It bothered us a bit that he couldn’t think of a name on his own, but that the only names he could come up with were related to movies.

We’ve always held the position that we don’t want our children’s imagination driven by television. Joey didn’t watch any TV until he was 18-months-old and then sparingly. It’s been the last few months with me being pregnant and, now, having a new baby that we’ve relaxed (a lot) the TV rules.

This is also the reason we don’t have toys and other paraphernalia with TV/movie characters, with a few exceptions (Thomas the train, Nemo, & Tow Mater). We want him to come up with his own stories, and not just copy verbatim the stories he sees in movies.

We don’t mind television. We enjoy watching movies together and want to introduce Joey to the movies we enjoyed as children, so we’re aiming to find a balance. One movie a week? Two 30-minute episodes?

What do you do?

2 comments… add one

  • Heidi May 31, 2011, 2:38 pm

    Great pics!! Joey is getting SO big! We feel the same way you do about television. Hazel didn’t watch a day of TV until she was around 18 months old, and then it was only Mickey Mouse Clubhouse once a day. Then Atticus was born, resulting in an addition show here and there. Then I went through a phase (Hazel from 3-4 years old, so about a year or so) of having a tough time moving and feeling alone, so I had the TV on in the background a lot, but only on PBS or Disney with no commercials or shows we didn’t like. We essentially went from sparse TV to having it on maybe 4-5 hours a day. Since moving here, we have ditched cable, have an antenna, and only watch maybe 1 movie a week and a handful of shows sporadically throughout the week on PBS, if that. I do have a phonics/ABC movie that I turn on for Sawyer, and it is the only television he really knows.

    The end verdict of our tv ebbs and flows? The kids know how to play, have a crazy imagination beyond the scope of the TV they have watched, and are very happy having it off or on. They will even go and turn it off after a show because they are ready to do something else.

    I used to be afraid that my minor breakdown period really filled the kids with commercialization, societal norms that aren’t apart of my belief system, and I felt so crummy about it. But really, I can see now that they are thriving and living a full childhood beyond the scope of the tube and its created characters. They even have picked up some pretty awesome educational tidbits along the way.

    I will also add that we read a LOT in our house, even when I was having my tough time. I am not sure how much or little that played into rounding out the kids exposure to a variety of ideas, requiring them to expand their minds past what they can see in front of them. So perhaps it is more the quality of TV in addition to how else you choose to spend your time, not the quantity of TV. 🙂

    I am sure you will find the perfect balance for your family given today’s circumstances, and the balance may shift overtime, but it will still be the perfect amount.

  • Susana of Montessori Candy June 17, 2011, 8:58 am

    Hi! I responded a bit on your Facebook page. What we’ve done is get rid of our antenna (tv monitor is our computer screen). That way, it is more work to have to put something on to watch, and it tends to be of better quality. I would just do what feels right to you. I don’t promise the kids tv or movie time weekly. We just see if we are all up for it as a family and if the children have been behaving well and being helpful. It is very limited, and the kids thrive because of it. I also don’t have character toys, bedding, etc.. Children tend to get obsessive about these characters and I personally would rather they imitate and admire a real person with great qualities and make sure to point admirable people out like that. Reading books of Saints for kids comes helpful as an alternative and good example for them over “super heroes”. Good luck with everything! Just cut back and you will see your sweetie return to making up his own story characters, etc…

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