Electron Opiate

Published 13 years, 8 months ago

Television possesses a scary, scary power.

All day today, Carolyn was in a cranky mood, no doubt because yesterday she got her six-month vaccination shots.  As the day wore on, she was less and less amenable to distraction.  We tried feeding her dinner, and that worked for a while, but then she started crying.  We switched to toys, and that was good for a few minutes before the sad face returned.  Kick-and-play seat, no good.  Jumping chair, nothing.  Walking around while bouncing her in my arms kept her to a minimal crank, but stopping for more than a minute caused the crank to escalate fairly rapidly.

So, at last, in desperation, I put her in front of the television and started a Baby Einstein video.  From the moment the TV turned on, she calmed down.  We ran through the DVD twice, and she didn’t so much as fuss.  Even the end credits kept her captivated.  She stayed calm after the television was turned off, nursed, and went quietly to sleep.

This may be in part because it’s roughly the sixth time she’s seen the television on in our house, so there was a certain novelty factor involved.  If anything, this little episode has reinforced and deepened my determination to keep our children’s television exposure to a very bare minimum as they grow up.


  1. […] even see my cats staring at the glowing box every once in a while. Eric Meyers most recent blog entry jumps onto this topic, while talking about his daughters cranky mood […]

  2. […] mish-mash while remaining still and seated activity in our brain is defeated. Inspired by this –> Comments » The UR […]

  3. […] g with even more enthusiasm than usual (“dancing”, as Joy puts it). I can sympathise with Eric Meyer’s instinct to keep kids a […]

  4. I hear it works for adults too.

  5. Good man! As an 18 year old who’s grown up with little TV (occasional news or Nova) I definitely feel it helped me out (I read a ton, both online and in dead-tree format, for example).

  6. As a father of a 21 month old, I strongly concur! Kudos.

  7. TV is evil evil bad bad bad. I have a roommate who watches it all the time and as a result, I am now sick of TV and only watch a few shows – which is pretty amazing because my parents watch a lot of TV and so I was raised that way. I’m thankful to have seen the light. Keep up the good work.

  8. I threw the TV-set away before my daughter was born. Now she’s about 3 years old and preferes to eye pictures in books or photographs, also she likes to draw. From time to time she watches cartoons at her grandfather’s.
    BTW, there is the law in my country which allows parents deny vaccination…

  9. Baby Mozart is good stuff. We got it from a friend. The first time the puppet jumps at the screen, my son Nikolai cried for 10 minutes. Now he quakes in anticipation :)

    Which others in the series can you recommend?

  10. As the dad of a two year old I have to agree. It’s quite hard to keep to in practice though.

    My experience with kids TV is that the commercials are much worse than the programmes. Here in the UK we are lucky to have the BBC children’s channels which have no ads, so when our son does watch TV, at least he’s not being told every ten minutes to eat junk food and pester us to buy junk toys.

  11. I see nothing wrong with children watching television. I think it is opening my 2 year old to a lot of concepts that we (mommy & daddy) do not have the luxury of time to teach him. Of course, you need to choose programming that is stimulating and appropriate. Also, TV is no substitute for taking the time to be with your child, say for example, sitting down with your child and reading.

    We have 4 Baby Einstein videos that my son has watched since he was 2 months old. Almost 2 years later he still enjoys them. While he loves these videos, I’m not sure how good they are for him other than the exposure to classical music. I prefer shows like The Wiggles, Blues Clues, Oobi, or Maisy. Yes, Noggin has many mornings been our friend.

  12. My son was absolutely captivated with the the Baby Einstein series. I think it’s the multimedia experience (classical music, spinning toys, lights, soft woman’s friendly voice…) and the way the series is formatted which keeps their attention – not so much the novelty of the TV.

  13. We’ve watched quite a lot of television with our 5 year old as he’s grown up. TV shows for kids have actually become pretty educational in the years since I was a kid and it just “rotted your brain.” And our son is and avid reader, both online and in dead-tree format, as Mr Smith mentioned above. Watching television frequently is not bad for you necessarily, it’s just that it tends to go along with other bad habits that are terrible, such as shoving the kid in front of the TV for 5 hours while you talk on the phone about soap operas to your friends. Like everything else, TV is great in moderation

  14. I’m still a teenager, and I watched television all the time until I was around 11, when I discovered the internet. So now my parents watch TV all the time and I sit in front of the computer most of the time, occasionally watching the news. I’m pretty sure I’d be less creative if I was still watching TV all the time.

  15. I grew up watching several hours of TV a day. A few years ago I pulled the plug and I’m much more in tune with things now. When I watch TV now, I realize that what you end up watching is 1/3 ads and I get frustrated by it. Very smart parenting move. I wish mine would have done the same.

  16. My daughters, 3 and 1 years old, both enjoy many of the Baby Einstein DVDs. The combination of (usually) classical music, strong colors, and frequently changing scenes appears to be very stimulating to them. We generally try not to go overboard with allowing the kids to watch TV, but at the same time we are not extremely restrictive either. In fact, my three year old daughter usually does not even have the patience to sit through a whole TV show (let alone a full movie, as some of her friends already watch), so she has a pretty healthy attitude towards TV.

    I was never much restricted about watching TV when I grew up, but then again when I was a small kid, there were only very few TV shows for kids (this was in Germany). These days, I hardly watch any TV, although I have to admit that it has become slightly more since we bought our TiVo… ;)

  17. Video Morphine
    That’s always been what I’ve called TV. Be it for children or adults. Hell, I even see my cats staring at the glowing box every once in a while. Eric Meyers most recent blog entry jumps onto this topic, while talking about his daughters cranky mood.

  18. Bah, nothing wrong with television… Tho’ moderation is the keyword. If your kid sits behind the television for hours each day, then it’s not good, but I seriously doubt an hour or two hours a day (with some relaxation in case there is something special on) does much harm. If anything, it will be educational. Will make children more ‘worldly-wise’. And er, comment no. 2, I doubt there’s much of a connection between television and reading. One does not exclude the other, or at least I do not see why it should. I read a lot, still do btw (tho’ less than I used to because I have more other things which take up my time nowadays), and I watched television as well. Not excessively much, of course, and my parents *did* have a 1-hour policy (which I gladly broke whenever possible ;p).

    In any case, when I have kids, I surely won’t consider television and computers ‘evil’ or anything and make them stay the furthest away from them as possible. On the other hand, I will not accept them becoming telly-addicts, of course. Ahwell, it all boils down to moderation and common sense, really. Also, many people have many different views on this subject. As long as you don’t allow your children anything at all, or let them run on the loose (I really don’t like those kinds of parents), there are varying degrees in the strictness parents can have, and there’s not much wrong with either way. From experience I can say it is even different within one family, I was raised a somewhat stricter than my little brother. With your first child you are unsure what to do and what’s best, while with the second, never mind the fourth, you know the drill by then.

    ~Grauw “naïve 21-year old, I guess”

  19. ahhh, yes,the Baby Einsteins.. sometimes i wonder how anyone ever managed to calm a baby down in the dark ages before those vids were made.!

  20. I wish there were more parents who would follow the less TV. It seems
    that some people use TV to baby sit; weather a single parent or both having
    to work to make ends meet. Our country is so busy that being able to
    enjoy sitting still for a spell is a thing of the past. It is amazing how
    many people I see driving to work in longgg SUV’s smoking a cancer stick
    talking on their cell phone and blowing the horn to go faster.
    Wake Up America and smell the roses.

  21. Bah. I generally only watch TV or movies when I’m at someone else’s house. It’s not some snobbish thing I like to lord over others, I just have a tendency to think of all the productive things I could be doing as I reach for the power button. Even a half-hour seems to precious to me to be wasted, so I usually don’t even flip it on. I would make an exception for the Simpsons, but they come on while I’m out swimming my daily mile.

    I guess as I get older (well, inasmuch as 24 is “older”), I have gained a greater appreciation for what little time we are allotted and would prefer to spend it being productive or spending time with friends, rather than watching an entertaining but ultimately useless house appliance.

  22. yes … we have a 7 month old and we have next to no television on. The only times we cave (okay, ‘I’ cave) is when he’s just woken up at 4 am, and won’t go back to sleep, and I’m too zonked to talk ‘perky’ to him! So, in those cases, it’s amazing what will work … Baby Einstein, Open University, video taped Cricket highlights … it’s all been tried, and it all works.

  23. Eric, you continually blaze a trail that I hope in my humble and inept way to follow.

    (Oh, and your CSS writing is also good.)

    TV was my baby sitter, and look at me now.

  24. I’d have to say television was extremely moderated growing up. Aside from perhaps The Muppet Show, Incredible Hulk, The Electric Company and of course Sesame Street, not a whole lot of time was spent in front of the box. More time was spent encouraging a love of reading, and an active imagination; and my brother and I turned out just fine. I suspect however that Ms. Carolyn will be a bit more proficient in CSS at 3 than any of the rest of us.

  25. kill the TV is my motto. funny thing is, I work in TV but refuse to own one (dvds on the lappy). I dont have kids and I fear the day when I have to make that decision. After hours of screaming, how empty might my antiTV dogma seem…. good for you for posting it.

  26. Electron Opiate
    In electron opiates we abandon
    ourselves and others at random
    comatose colours which oscillate
    helping us to further procrastinate.

    Moving us hastily, swish-swhash
    through badly pasted mish-mash
    while remaining still and seated
    activity in our…

  27. […] even see my cats staring at the glowing box every once in a while. Eric Meyers most recent blog entry jumps onto this topic, while talking about his daughters cranky mood […]

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