Television – The one way street!

In class V, I realised that I had all the makings of a successful brain surgeon. I was smart, quick and deft. A sharp memory and deep focus made me an excellent student. I could always see myself in one of those Ivy League Universities.  And then cable TV happenedJ
I still miss those pre-cable days when you could actually count the programs on your fingertips- Malgudi Days, Mahabharat, He-man, Vaghale ki Duniya which we as a family watched together and felt emotionally satisfied. So little and so precious- every single flicker and every sound noted and filed in our memories. No wonder, Hrithik and Farhaan struck a chord with the audience with their rendition of the Doordarshan musical in their movie- Zindagi Na Mile Dobara.
Now, I am often perplexed by the choice, range, plot (is there one?) and characterization in Television today. Let the following speak for itself…
Children, in those times (God- Am I sixty or what?) played like there is no tomorrow- during school, afterschool and at home. Television was that tiny bit of spark right after nightfall. The end of the episode signaled time to sleep, unlike today’s era where the multiple programmes tease you until you give up, tired, sleepy and defeated.
Cable TV came and drove children right out of the park into their drawing rooms. I have also gone a full circle. Where earlier I would have  magnimously sacrificed a client meeting to watch Friends, today I am unfazed even when movies like Bhahubali and Series like 24 visit me via my box and I only catch flitting glimpses of the plot.
However, my children loovve television. Once I asked them – Who do you love more- Mom or TV? 
One scampered off (to avoid a face-off) and the other one said – Of course you, Mom. I sighed in relief as she said- You are the only one who knows which programmes I like. Daadu‘s orientation will take time!
You see, when you have a single child bestowed on you, you vow to the heavens as lightening roars – “Come rain or storm, I shall protect thee from vice and pain (and Kurkure!)”.
When you have two, you keep looking for places to hide.
But since I had taken a pledge before the midwife as my second child was born (I shall protect them from sinful temptations and mindless mind games and… I am not sure but I think she turned around, rolled her eyes and said –Protect them from you! I am looking for funding to sue her.) , I turned to Google chacha for a solution to their zombie like expressions and vacant eyes watching Chota Bheem for the nth hour and this is what I found
                            
So, all those dear mothers who get all cheerful as a lark because Raja beta ne TV dekhte dekhte saare dal chawal kha liye – take note. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) says that even 2+ children should only be watching an hour of TV everyday (Infants koh toh big NO-NO!). See diagram below. Hah! Apparently the pediatrician hired for this research never realized that it takes exactly 1 hour and 28 seconds to have a cup of tea while reading the newspaper. Unbelievable!
On a serious note, kids’ brains grow profoundly during the first 3 years of life. Infants may stare at the bright colors and motion on a screen, but their brains are incapable of making sense out of all those bizarre pictures. It takes 2 full years for a baby’s brain to develop to the point where the symbols on a screen come to represent their equivalents in the real world.
Dr. Dimriti Christakis , a pediatrician says that prolonged exposure to rapid image change during this critical period of brain development preconditions the mind  to expect high levels of stimulation leading to inattention in later life. So you very soon you start hearing stuff like “Its boring!!! So slow!!… Itna door tak chakna padega!”
Do check out his experiments with mice at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BoT7qH_uVNo and you will come to know what constant TV Viewing can do to our children.
My take is clear- A toddler learns a lot more from banging pans on the floor while you cook dinner than he does from watching a screen for the same amount of time
Dr. But what do we do for our lovely children who have gone way past the reason of life? Those who can watch Mahabharat, Bajrangi Bhaijaan  and Doramon with equal focus? Solution to get your child off the digital babysitter- Next time, indeed!
So long….

Shivangi

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