Friday, November 29, 2013

thoughts on media (kill your television!)

  My daughter goes to a private  Waldorf school. There is a media policy that we signed upon registration. Media isn't just television, it covers recorded music, video games, computers, films and radio. Our school even had an assembly with a Doctor speaking (his name escapes me), who is an expert on the subject of media and it's effects on children. Everyone was given a copy of this paper. Most of the parents support the policy in theory but I've yet to talk to anyone who completely supports the media policy in practice. Most people I've talked to say they do a movie night... I was initially very committed to supporting the outline in the media policy but I am a single mama to two and, out of laziness/desperation,  I have used the tv as an occupier when I had to get work done or when I/we were sick. Then there are the few occasions when my gal spends time with her father and comes home obsessively chanting Katy Perry songs or complaining of scenes from the latest movie they watched stuck in her head.
  My kids get things stuck in their heads a lot. Both have diagnosed obsessive compulsive disorder and Tourette's syndrome. Sensory over stimulation and stress contribute greatly to their varying symptoms. I am realizing that a very calm vibe overall and minimal flashy objects all around (I am striving to get our home in the "zen palace" category) help them stay serene.
  When my daughter returns from her Dad's or we make a trip to say, Target or a large grocery store, she is extra anxious and more agitated and prone to tantrums or rage outbursts for hours afterwards. In our society, media is everywhere. Over stimulation (at least in our fairly large city) is the rule, rather than exception. There is so much going on all around us at all times.
  I strive to get us all outside and out of the city as often as possible, but honestly, I have not been doing enough of that lately. I am trying to find a balance between work and free time (which, for me, is nonexistent). There is even more pressure on me now that one of my kid's parents no longer contributes financially and winter is nearly here (which means that electric and gas bills go through the roof...) woe is me, that's a whole separate post...
   We used to have a weekly (every Friday) movie night but now we're having a weekly craft/game night. I don't really know why I am holding onto the tv. I watch an episode of a show, streamed on my laptop in bed, sometimes but we just don't use the tv anymore. And seeing it hibernating in the corner of our living room (even though it's covered with a pretty silk scarf) kind of drives my little one mad. She'll fixate on it and beg me to turn it on and usually I can direct her interest a project like felting or watercolors, but sometimes she just cries for an hour...
   Teens are a whole other challenge. A good portion of their social group activity is now conducted online through Skype or other chat based sites. It's crazy to me that they don't need to hang out IRL (In Real Life) to have fun. They all get together online cuz um, making a plan to meet up somewhere is too difficult or something?! It's a whole new landscape of "life", dating etc. It kind of makes ME crazy and I have to take away my Son's mouse (he's almost 15) daily...
  The media over usage/technology overload doesn't just apply to children. I have several friends/family members who are totally addicted to their iphones and have them out constantly to check or post on instagram/facebook/twitter or are carrying on text conversations while we are eating lunch or what not. It drives me mad. I have stopped spending time with several folks due because it's just no fun and they are unable to mind their technological manners. I feel that, etiquette wise,  if you wouldn't feel comfortable reading an actual book at that moment, it's probably not a good time to doodle around around on your iphone...
   In my own life I have severely limited my iphone/computer usage. I don't use them around the kids and am trying to be in the moment and open my eyes to actual life and not get lost in internet examples of life. I've had to impose limits on my teenagers tech usage and with my daughter it's best to just have an absolutely nothing at all policy. I do allow some chill music (mazzy star, cocteau twins, some kate bush) but that's it. I have noticed the difference it makes and it's worth the effort.
  I grew up in a house that had the tv as the centerpiece of "family time" and it always bothered me (commercials and voice over ads and laugh tracks make me nuts!). By the time I was about 9 or 10 I just went into my room and would spend hours sewing, drawing or journaling and was accused by my grandparents of being withdrawn but I just didn't wanna watch the crappy sitcoms. It wasn't until twin peaks appeared on tv (when I was in 10th grade) that I even watched a show again.
   I feel like tv/media, at least for kids, is just bad. Kind of like white sugar, there aren't any redeeming qualities to it.  How do you feel about all this?
  Now I'm off to work on cleaning the studio and dropping off more donations (and recovering from yesterdays carb overdose!) xo m

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