Monday, May 3, 2010

A shocking experience

It was my birthday last Thursday, and we spent that gorgeous autumn day in the Stellenbosch winelands amid vineyards exploding in hues of gold and mellow umbers. Lunch was had beneath the ancient oak trees at Boschendal, where the children played on the lush green lawns, picking up acorns and autumn leaves - ArrowBoy stuffed them in his mouth and Sweetpea studied them!

After spending the whole day out, my husband and I decided to skip our tradition of an intimate birthday dinner-for-two and rather stay in to watch a DVD together We sold our TV about a year and a half ago, beacause we just could not stand all the rubbish pouring into our home anymore. Instead, my darling bought us a very large computer screen, so we can watch a movie or two on a weekend.

So on our way home from that special day out, we stopped at the video shop. All four of us were there, still basking in the glow of a delightful day spent together as a family. The dad and I were finecombing the DVD's on offer in search of something 'clean' and enjoyable, and I was only vaguely aware of the noisy film that was playing on the screen above the counter. Sweetpea was sitting on my hip and I all of a sudden sensed that she was getting very agitated. Her eyes were glued to the TV screen and I as watched my precious daughter, I SAW the horror in her eyes and the terror that rose inside of her as she watched that screen. I immediately turned to see what was showing. The scene was that of a family driving in a car while an earthquake or something similar was tearing up the road right under them, with buildings crumbling all around and trees snapping like matchsticks. The father (I assume that's who he was - I have no idea wat the film was about) was driving, while the mother and little girl was in the back seat, screaming and clutching each other in the face of the pandemonium outside.

The next moment it was like a terrible bubble burst inside my daughter. Her breathing became rapid, her eyes filled up with tears and she started to sob: "It's breaking, it's breaking, Mamma! Everything is breaking!" She could not tear her eyes away from that screen. It took me only a moment to realise that to her, what was happening in that movie looked very real, and that it shattered her sense of security - everything that is solid and stable was crumbling; a man, a daddy, someone she regards as a tower of strength and protection, was looking scared and out of control; a little girl just slightly older than her was terrified, and a mother hysterical.

We immediately left the video store, my husband and I gently tring to soothe her back to calm and assuring her that everything was OK. She was crying out loud by now, and it took us another half an hour to help her see that all was well. Through her anxious tears she kept sobbing that everything was breaking...

We were really shaken up by this experience. I thought back to my time in America and the horrors of 9/11. I remember how the other students and I crammed into the cafeteria when the news broke of the terrorist attacks, and seeing those images on the TV screens. I remember how it took me a few moments to register that what I was seeing was REAL and not just a scene from another action movie. I chastized myself for not feeling horror straight away and it was then that I realized for the first time just how TV had numbed us with a barrage of violence that had become so commonplace that it didn't even shock us anymore.

The whole experience in the video shop last week has just convinced me even more about the necessity to guard my child's brain space.

Did you know that the French government has now BANNED the production of television programmes for children under the age of three, since data suggests that  exposing very young children to TV leads to learning difficulties? And that research now indicates that for every hour of television children watch each day, their risk of developing attention-related problems later increases by ten percent. For example, if a child watches three hours of television each day, the child would be thirty percent more likely to develop attention deficit disorder.--D. Christakis, Pediatrics, April 2004 . For more facts about the detrimental effects of television on children, click here

I also want to recommend the Plugged In  website (click on the link to take you there). This is a service of Focus on the Familt that provides EXCELLENT reviews on movies, music, games and more. My husband and I use this as a very reliable tool before deciding on an DVD.

Let us be vigilant in seeing that what we feed our children's brains are 'healthy', uplifting and GOOD!

1 comment:

  1. Hi Greitjie

    I read this post a while ago and have been meaning to comment. I applaud you for getting rid of you TV. If it weren't for the rugby, we would have ages ago. Or at least conceled our subsciprtion and also jsut rented movies. But anyway, I do agree with you and screening what you let you children watch. Annebella is allowed to watch any TV at all (except some rugby with dad!) I was just wondering though.... I know it's a while away, but how do you intend to intoduce the horror's of the world to your children. And how are they going to handle those horrific situations if you have not yet been able to prepare them for it..? I'm not saying they need to watch TV at all, I know there are other ways, but, I know that that is how we were exposed to horrific scenes and how we built up emotional strength, with mom's help, to handle some of those situations mentally... How do you intend to do it? Asking for tips here, not criticising! :)


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