Thursday, June 16, 2005

Why I Don’t Want My Children Watching Television News

I may be preaching to the choir here but I need to write about this. Perhaps maybe my own husband will reconsider this after he reads this blog entry. (At times I don’t like the fact that my husband reads my blog as I feel I have him watching over my shoulder as I write. Perhaps not everything I write should be read by him!)

For the first seven years of parenthood my husband went along with my request that we not have news programs on our television so as to protect our children from their toxic content. He got his news fix during the workday: radio news and talk shows while in the car on the way to work, newspapers paid for by his employer, and of course, the internet. Sometimes if the children were not in the room he’d watch a little Fox News talk show banter while working in the kitchen.

I lost the battle during the last Presidential election. Suddenly it was imperative that he follow closely, what Fox News was saying about the Presidential election. He has relied mostly on Internet news since he is unemployed; we only subscribe to the little town newspaper. It began gradually, with watching television news while washing the dishes after dinner (a job he has done since the birth of our first child). More and more he began watching the news, when the children were not present. But then it would remain on after they were in the room. Next, as with both his and my parents, the television would remain blaring even when he walked out of the room and was “done” watching it.

I can’t stand the constant blabber of the television talk show hosts. I can get all I need to know in a very short period of time, by reading Internet stories. If I want to hear commentary and debate, I certainly don’t need 60 minutes of it, let alone hour after hour of it. I can’t take the repetition of the same thing over and over. I find the news depressing and the constant hearing of negativity, of crime and depressing statistics, over and over, to be a real downer. I also can’t stand when the “news” turns to guessing about the future. You know, when they run out of new things to report so they speculate. “Well, if this happens then I think this will happen”. Then someone else says, “No, that won’t happen, I think this will happen and then this will be the result.” Then they argue about things that have not even occurred in real life! So I try to ignore what they are saying and think my own thoughts instead, when my husband has it on. After all, he has been making dinner lately, and cleaning up after dinner, so how much can I complain when he says he wants the TV on “for company” while he does these things?

Because I am not happy about my children watching the news, my ears perk up when it is on. I am hearing some horrible things. One night right when dinner was being served, and before I was able to shut it off, there was a detailed report about children missing and suspected murdered. I just don’t think this is a good thing for young children to hear. One night while visiting a relative out of state, my younger son and I went to bed. My husband was downstairs with my older son. My older son then came up to go to bed and was upset about a show that my husband was watching. He described to me how there was a long story of a father who took his daughter and tied her up and took her away in his car and then murdered her. He was very upset about this. And this was at about 10 at night and right before bed. The time when he is supposed to be winding down for a peaceful nights’ rest was corrupted by this horrible story. I had a discussion with him and tried to explain that sometimes people do really bad things. He was shattered to think that a fathter may actually murder his own young daughter. I think his realization of this robbed him of just one more piece of his innocence. He was very, very upset. My blood was boiling and I wanted to rip into my husband, who was still sitting downstairs watching whatever it was. I calmed my son down and got him to bed. Then I went down and addressed the situation. Come to find out the program was 20/20 and so it really was a long segment. My husband said that our son wanted to stay up later and he was reading a book and he assumed that he was not hearing the television that he had tuned it out. WRONG. I had what I thought was a reasonable discussion with him and he seemed to regret it.

However he continues to watch the news and more and more is leaving the television on when he exits the room. Lately we have had an issue with the fact that he watches the television news early in the morning before anyone else is awake. When the children wake up and go downstairs, they watch the news (as they will stare at anything that is on the screen when given the chance). My husband then allows this to go on, unbeknownst to me as I am still sleeping (which I appreciate but at what cost?).

What has been discussed during the Michael Jackson trial is just unprecedented. X-rated language is being talked about right on the news. Body parts and details of alleged activities are being talked about all over the place. It is insane and unnecessary. My kids have been spoken to about not letting people touch them inappropriately, etc. but they don’t know what the word “molestation” means. A couple of months ago we saw a picture of Michael Jackson in a store, as an advertisement for his music. Jay pointed to him and said, “Oh, there is the man who murdered the children”. I was shocked! Somehow my son had misunderstood the news and thought that Jackson was a child-murdered. I explained to him that he was on trial for a crime but that he was not on trial for murder and that we didn’t know if he did anything wrong or not. I write about this to demonstrate how children can misconstrue what they hear, and sometimes into something worse.

Yesterday my husband told me that our older son woke up early and came downstairs. Of course the news was on and he said that the reporter announced that Michael Jackson is requesting that photos of his (insert name of male genitals), which were used during the trial, be returned to him. My son heard this and said with shock, “What the heck?” My husband thought this was hilarious but I wasn’t laughing. I asked how he responded and he said that he laughed and told my son he didn’t know what it was about.

I can’t wait for the Michael Jackson chatter to be over with. Even radio news has gone graphic, making listening to that with the kids in the car impossible for me. There were mentions of sleeping with children, giving children alcoholic “Jesus juice”, etc.

My husband retorted a few months ago that perhaps it is time that our children realize what kind of world they are living in. I wanted to brain him at that moment in time. I think we need to preserve our children’s innocence as long as possible. This path of watching the news when our children were 4 and 6 is not one I wanted to go down. And now that they are 5 and 7.5, we are still on the path. I am not quite sure what else I can do to get my husband to see things from my viewpoint or how I can get him to stop having the kids exposed to television news. I know if he were working, he’d be around the house less and this would be more of a non-issue. But I have to deal with what we are experiencing right now. If you have any ideas, please share them with me! Just know that if you leave comments here on the blog, he is also reading them. If you agree with me, then perhaps you can help persuade him as well, by the comments that you make.

Perhaps I need to go do some research as to the harmful effects of children watching news programs, maybe that would get his attention. If you know of any research, let me know.


Kim said...

Christine- Unplug it, "misplace" the cable wire, have Cable turned off (if you have it),whatever it takes. The good does not outweigh the bad!

FatcatPaulanne said...

I agree with you. Your DH needs to exercise a little control. The news ought to be at least PG13. He can get news on the internet, read the paper or make sure the kids are in bed before getting his fix.