Creativity and TV

I know I've said this before but being a mom is so hard.  I always feel like a new mom.  Every new phase that my boys enter is new to me as a parent as well.  So far, I've really enjoyed every new phase!  I loved the baby phase where I could hold my precious babies and they depended on my completely.  Then the boys entered the talking phase and the talking back phase came sooner than I thought.  But I love that they come up with ideas on their own and it never ceases to amaze me where they get the things they say and do!

Last fall Isaac had crazy hair day at school, but he decided on his own to make it crazy everything day.

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There are things I try to regulate as a mother, like "Screen Time" and sugar intake, but I've always tried to teach my boys confidence and good decision making by giving them choices at home.  They get to choose what they want for lunch.  They get to choose what they want to wear.  Usually, I'll let them choose from a few preapproved choices.  But lately, I've stopped choosing to battle over clothes and hair.  Isaac has always been particular about these things.  When he was little we would spike Isaac's hair because, well, it spiked on its own…

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Then Isaac's hormones…or something… made Isaac's hair look like this:

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That was an interesting phase to say the least…

But a year or so later, Isaac was SO over the spiked look and only wanted flat hair.  So we eventually found a way to cut his hair so it wouldn't stick up in the back.  Nowadays he tells the stylist at the haircutting place that he likes his "top hair long and the sides short."

Isaac really enjoys picking out his own clothes and he comes up with some interesting choices.  This is the choice he made the other day.  He also chose the pose and the "Blue Steel" expression…

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I told him that the shirts didn't really go together.  He said, "That's okay because I look pretty cool."

He's such a creative kid.  Last week at school, Isaac had a substitute teacher who told them that they were going to make Leprechaun traps if they had time.  Well, they ran out of time and never got the chance to do it.  So Isaac asked if we could make one at home.  I said, "Absolutely," but told him I didn't know how to make one.  He said he figured if we had a can and put a piece of paper on top with a piece of candy on that, then the Leprechaun would jump up on it and fall in.  Then we'd catch it!  So, I got him a can and he cut the paper and unwrapped a Starburst and placed it on top.  Then he was worried that the Leprechaun wouldn't be able to reach the top of the can so he made a ramp and a step out of paper and a plastic bowl.  We waited a few days but never caught one.  Maybe it's not quite Leprechaun season yet…

Randall and I had an interesting discussion the other day.  He said while he's all for limiting the amount of time our kids sit in front of screens, he's not sure what damage they do.  It seems that educated parents are led to believe that the TV is a horrible thing.  Without doing any research but knowing my own experiences, I told Randall that TV takes up time that should be used doing better things.  Kids should be playing outside or reading instead of watching TV.  

I remember seeing a commercial in between scenes from Circle Square on the Christian station as a kid.  The commercial showed two kids looking bored just staring at a big box TV.  The doorbell rang and the mom let in the garbage man.  He gaily said hello to the kids on the couch and they mumbled, "huh?"  The garbage man opened up the top of the TV and dumped a trashcan full of garbage into the TV, smiled and closed the top.  The mom asked the kids to thank the man to which they gave another mumbled, "huh?" and he left.  I guess the message was TV is full of crap coming straight from the TV itself.  How the commercials have changed these days.

I guess my worst fear is that TV dampens ones imagination.  We make sure that our kids are watching age appropriate and even educational programming.  We make sure they have plenty of time to get rid of pent up energy and exercise.  But when you are watching TV, you are just force-fed a story and there is no thinking involved.  You just stare.  Our boys have plenty of time to use their imaginations but they are imagining they are Lego Star Wars characters or Angry Birds!  I wonder if they will ever have enough imagination to come up with something new and original to them.  I wonder if I'll ever have that kind of imagination… Then Randall reminded me of some of the most creative people we know who stay up all hours of the night playing video games.  He said that we are a generation who was raised on television and we are still some of the most creative people in history. It got me thinking… What are the issues society has with TV?

Here's what one research website said, 

        Some studies link early TV viewing with later attention problems, such as ADHD.  However, other     experts disagree with these results.  One study found that TV viewing before age three slightly hurt     several measures of later cognitive development, but that between ages three and five it slightly     helped reading scores [11].  

There is some pretty compelling research that shows that kids who watch a lot of violent TV show more aggression and tendencies to act violently later in life.  I wonder if any research has been done on kids who read violent books and their aggression (I am part of a generation raised on R.L. Stine books).  

Speaking of violent authors, Stephen King, in his book On Writing says: 

        …When you stop to think of it, [I am] a member of a fairly select group: the final handful of     American novelists who learned to read and write before they learned to eat a daily helping of video     bullshit.  This might not be important.  On the other hand, if you're just starting out as a writer, you     could do worse than strip your television's electric plug-wire, wrap a spike around it, and then stick it     back into the wall.  See what blows, and how far.

        Just an idea.  (p. 22)

There are links between obesity, drug and alcohol use, and even teen pregnancy and the amount and content watched on TV!  But I'm pretty sure that parents who let their kids watch TV all day, may also not talk to their kids about these issues.

I'm actually less worried about the affects of TV on my kids after doing the research. I monitor closely what my kids watch and how much. Isaac LOVES his screen time and is constantly asking for more.  But he is also currently being tested to get into the gifted program at his school.  Is there a correlation there?

Stephen King also had this to say about "screen time", especially J.K. Rowling's Harry Potter series:

        Kids are still perfectly willing to put aside their iPods and Game Boys and pick up a book…if the     magic is there. That reading itself is magical is a thing I never doubted. I'd give a lot to know how       many teenagers (and preteens) texted this message in the days following the [Harry Potter and the       Deathly Hallows] release:     DON'T CALL ME TODAY I'M READING.

This statement is true for me as well as my kids! As much as I love TV I'd happily get rid of it and pursue a fuller life. 

What are your thoughts on kids and TV and creativity?

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