The Lure Of Visuals

Almost everyone of us rues how kids get attracted and attached and addicted to TV, cartoons and video games these days. As parents, most of us promise to ourselves that we will exercise a strict control over the visual diet our kids consume.

The Lure Of Visuals - Keep Children Away From TV - Screen Time And Kids

However, many a times, we give in to temptation ourselves, or put the children in front of the visual media deliberately to get some peace, or in many cases, to push some food into their food pipes while their eyes are glued to the characters on the screen.

I too am guilty as charged. Just that, in my case, my kiddo has no interest in the cartoons or movies or serials (I probably should be thankful for that!). Humans and other living beings do not excite him much, nor do the caricatures that romp on cartoon channels posing as super boys and girls. What my kid loves is – Trains! Yeah! Loads and loads of them.

And no, not the train cartoons. Real, moving, huffing, puffing, honking trains. My son is Indian Railways’ biggest fan! So all he wants to watch, is train videos on YouTube, either on my laptop, or on my smart phone. And no points for guessing that the 2 point something lad can nonchalantly access YouTube on my phone without much help from me! Talk about tech savvy kids these days!

At first it was cool. I was, and still am to an extent happy that my kid loves some ‘serious stuff’, not mindless cartoons. It was childsplay (literally) feed him while watching these videos. Here are some of my son’s favorites –

However, soon I started to realise that it is turning into an obsession. The boy wakes up in the morning and walks straight to my study room where my laptop sits, and demands to watch ‘train’. And if I don’t oblige, he refuses to brush, bathe or drink milk. If I do, he sits in front of it the whole day, not interested in doing any other activity. He even wants to watch them while sitting in the potty!

And therefore, the hubby and me embarked on Mission Distraction – from the videos. We went ahead and brought a lot of activity stuff for him – finger painting kits, colour pencils, huge charts for him to colour to his heart’s content. We plan to add on to the list. It has given us a ray of hope to see the little one enjoy finger painting, sloshing his fingers in the washable paint and imprinting impressions on the chart paper. It is fun to do this activity as a family. And most importantly, we succeeded in partially weaning him away from the videos.

The Lure Of Visuals

But, for now, it is only partial. He does keep going back to it. And there’s the question of mealtimes too. Being the picky eater that he is, the only way I can feed him a reasonable amount of food is by putting him in front of the video, for I am afraid that if I don’t, he will prefer going hungry to sitting on the table and eating.

I hear fellow parents and doctors opining that it is OK to let him go hungry once in a while, so as to let him realise that he does need his food, but the protective traditional ‘amma’ in me keeps stopping me. Maybe I should just ignore her and go ahead and do it, but then there will be the tantrums to deal with. I need to brace myself up for them.

Mission Distraction will succeed, won’t it, dear parents? What do you do to distract your kids from the lure of the screen? Do share some ideas, I am sure it will be helpful for a lot of us!

Yamini is a software professional turned work-at-home-mom. Amidst her domestic responsibilities and a very demanding 2.5 year old son, she snatches time to write academic papers, freelance content, fiction and poetry. Her stories and poetry have been published in various online literary magazines and anthologies by Penguin Books and Cyberwit Publications. Yamini voices her thoughts now and then atΒ http://myexpressionsandme.blogspot.in/. She can be reached atΒ http://www.facebook.com/YaminiVijendranAuthor.

  • I am fighting the screens since a long time. Well its an ongoing battle!

  • Swati Nitin Gupta

    It was tough weaning him off the TV and Laptop and of course mobile but I did it gradually. Yes we all also brought him lots of colouring books, story books and practice books. As for the mealtime, he knows is a story time from Momma. So if I tell him a good story mealtimes are pretty hassle-free.

  • More often than not, my 2 point someone watches YouTube when I’m feeding him. I have been able to keep the attraction of the loony toons on TV away from him for now. On the PC, I can regulate what he watches – Pingu, classic cartoons like Mickey,CBBs shows (since the channel went off air) and some others. Also, a habit of sitting on his high-chair and eating helps. I cannot let him go hungry. So, I do my best to make sure he finishes his food – even if that means letting him watch an extra ‘Wheels on a Bus’. πŸ™‚

    • Yamini Vijendran

      Ah! yes! the Wheels on the Bus! I have, along with my son, watched I guess almost all variations of the rhyme that are there on YouTube! πŸ™‚

  • It is an ongoing battle at home to keep my daughter away from the TV. Since it was difficult to control TV watching, I have enrolled her in activities like music and dance that limits her TV watching to some extent but she still manages to watch for a hour every day and more than that during the weekends.

  • So far so good when it comes to keeping my lil one R away from the big bad screens. That being said, she is fascinated by advertisements, of all the things on TV. Whenever the ads stop and the regular programming begins, she just turns around and starts doing whatever she was doing.

    As far as mealtimes go, thankfully, nowadays she doesn’t need the TV to keep her distracted. Although when she was younger, she had this morbid fascinations for Nat Geo Wild during her mealtimes. She just had to watch tigers, alligators and other predators kill and eat their prey to swallow her food πŸ™

    Kids are funny, aren’t they!!! πŸ˜€

  • Okay here is my story. We bought the family iPad when V was all of 6 months old. And I remember discussing it with the hubs that there are some awesome iPad apps for kids. The first to be downloaded was a set of 3 interactive rhymes – twinkle twinkle, Mary had a little lamb and Old Mac Donald. From then on, we exposed V to the iPad on rare occasions…but then those tiny windows of digital play were enough to get him hooked. By and by we downloaded some more apps for him and really they are all child’s play for him! We hide the iPad from him and we cant bring it out before him without it being hijacked! Even our regulated exposure has led to such a stage when V turns to his Dad, cups his face and with his baby voice asks, “ipath chai?” (His version of ‘Do you want an iPad?)

    ipath chai!

    The first thing in the morning and the last thing at night! And we say, “Na…ipath chai na!” (No, I don’t want the ipad).

    So yes Yamini even controlled exposure to the visual medium is a dangerous thing! As far as other forms go, yes we have downloaded a set of rhymes from YT and put them on a pendrive on the TV. We play that when we need those tiny moments of peace. But we never resort to digital distraction during meal times. His meals are restricted to the high chair with his cars and play dough for amusement.

    And by the way…if you want kits for your kiddo…talk to me. I have something for you. πŸ™‚