The television has come to stay, as an almost indispensable part of our homes. We may not listen to the radio for days and weeks. We may not read the newspaper for months. But the television is a must watch. Even the internet cannot supplant this ubiquitous gadget, instead it has been incorporated into it as we now have smart TVs.

I’m not worried about adults. If you like, watch African Magic and Bollywood till day break, nothing “consign” me. My worry is that of the kids, who have idolised the television and taken cartoon characters as heroes, heroines and role models. As early as infancy, some children cannot do without the TV. It’s their eye-opener in the morning, and the sleeping pill that lulls them to bed. They may not know the names of family members, but they know Barbie and all her friends. Simple Suratul Fatiha, they’ve not been taught, but they can chant “let it go” a hundred times a day.

What do they even learn from these things? What are the themes? If it’s not about romance, it would be magic, witchcraft, warfare, pranks and deceitful plots or violence. We appreciate some like Barney, Dr. Mc. Stuffin etc. for trying to teach the children morals, social skills and basic science. But what about the overhyped musicals which sometimes distract the children and defeat the whole purpose?

Kudos to parents who are able to achieve 0% television in their homes. I assure you, they are not missing anything! I’m not saying that we should all throw away the TV or pack it inside. There are ways you can control viewing content and duration. I watched Frozen twice before I allowed my daughter to watch it, under my supervision. I pause, fast forward or stop whatever she’s watching as I deem appropriate. I let her watch either as a reward for extraordinary behaviour or a gift on a special day.

By all means, let your children enjoy themselves. Let them play and goof around. But when it comes to screens, choose wisely and limit their exposure. The American Academy of Paediatrics recommends only 1-2 hours of meaningful screen time per day for school children and 30 minutes to nothing for toddlers and infants. Removing the TV and giving them laptops or tablets is not the solution either. Parental control is always advisable.

Khadijah Sanni-Tijani


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