The Headache of Adverts on Children’s TV

As a family we spend a lot of time watching Netflix now – our favourite shows – on demand, just one button to press on the TV remote and just so much easier than watching anything else. But, every so often the children want to watch something that isn’t on Netflix or we think putting normal TV on will be a bit of variety for them and so we cave to their demands and stick it on for a while.

Within half an hour of the children watching normal TV they have the same demands. “I want that Mummy…”, “Can we ask Father Christmas for this Daddy…”. It’s constant and relentless and I didn’t understand why the children were so focused on material things until I sat and watched normal TV properly with them. It was as if they had swallowed an Argos catalogue.

But, a few minutes of TV watching later and I could see why the children were so fixated on the latest toys. In between each ten or fifteen minute show there were a few minutes of adverts and the majority of the adverts were about toys – all featuring their favourite characters, their favourite brands and things that were so familiar to them but things that they didn’t own. Things they immediately wanted.

I am well aware that LP and Little Man are incredibly fortunate with the amount of toys they get to review but we also have quite a high turnover of toys – reviewing them and then a few months later giving them to friends or the charity shop – only the most favoured ones are kept indefinitely. I don’t want the children to grow up spoilt and expecting things – they know that the toys we have are part of my job, they know a lot of other children don’t get everything they get and so they understand that we can’t keep everything that we’re sent, that other people might like and appreciate it instead.

The children also get pocket money and save it to then buy things with it and they always have two or three things to ask Father Christmas for – not huge lists but just a couple of things that they’d really love. But, adverts on TV make them want more. It makes that list of things they’d like get longer and longer and it makes them say they want things rather than they would like things. It’s all very me, me, me and want, want, want.

I don’t know whether it’s subliminal messaging or the music on the adverts but whatever it is turns the children into noisy, materialistic little people who have forgotten the value of things, have forgotten how much they already have and don’t appreciate that things need to be worked for or saved up to buy.

For me, adverts on children’s TV are a terrible thing. I work so hard to make the children understand that they can’t have everything that they would like the minute that they decide they want it. We work to make them understand the value of money, the concept of saving up for things and choosing wisely when they part with that money.

But then the adverts come on the TV and shatter everything the children have learnt and make them so blinkered that in that moment all they can see is that toy – and that is all that matters in life. In that moment they would swap their beloved cat for that toy and wouldn’t look back.

Those TV adverts are like drugs to a child and that is just another reason why we’ll be sticking with Netflix and moving away from commercial TV channels. A house without TV adverts is definitely a nicer one where the children are concerned.

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TV Turns Children Into Monsters

I wrote recently about how I can put LP in front of the TV and she will happily stay there, transfixed by Curious George for half an hour while I sort Little Man out and get him to nap. I am also planning on using the TV as entertainment for LP before her bath while I put LM to bed in the evening when Hubby’s at work.

Occasional TV is great. We love it – it lets me get things done, allows both children to remain happy and LP loves Curious George like nothing else.

BUT.

LP hasn’t been very well for the last few days, so we’ve stayed at home, snuggled on the sofa and watched TV – the best remedy for a poorly 2 year old. The problem has come when we’ve turned the TV off… We’ve been watching the Curious George movie instead of the TV show and so it’s a lot longer than she is used to – but in her poorly state she will still sit happily transfixed by it. I explain in advance – ‘Pickle, we’re going to watch this one movie and then we’re going to play toys, ok?’ and LP will then say ‘Meee Meeee, Moo Mooooo’ meaning Monkey Movie. So I put the movie on.

80 minutes later, as the final credits come on, LP wails ‘Meeeeee, Meeeee. Meeeeeeeee Meeeeeeeeeeee’ because she wants it on again. I explain that no, we’ve watched it, we’re having a break from TV and I then turn the TV off.

Queue toddler meltdown.

LP doesn’t tantrum. She is an amazingly laid back and calm child.

Until you turn Curious George off.

LP will throw herself on the floor, kick her legs up and down, throw her arms around and smack her head against the floor. This is repeated, with added screaming and crying. We then do everything we can to distract her and make her forget about the TV. This usually ends up involving food – anything to get her to calm down.

Do all toddlers get like this when they watch too much TV? LP literally turns into a ball of rage, a teenie redheaded monster!

TV turns a happy, lovely toddler into a Jekyll & Hyde – a completely different personality comes out. This makes me regret ever putting the TV on in the first place, knowing that I have to limit it to a 20 minute slot next time – before lunch or dinner so I have a ‘reason’ to turn it off.

Please tell me that your children turn into monsters when the TV gets turned off too? It can’t just be LP.

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