I’m having a bit of a dilemma with TV lately. I’ve never been one of the parents who banned
TV for my child. In fact, by the time I
had even heard of the “no TV under two” recommendation it was already too
late. (whoops!) But I do limit my son’s TV and, more
importantly in my opinion, what he watches. For example, we don’t watch prime time television around him. I love the shows I watch but most of them are
just not appropriate. They’re all too
fast, too loud, too adult in content. Half the movies out there have camera cuts so fast I think they could
trigger an epileptic seizure. And I
really don’t like him watching commercials.

Which is where I’m running into problems. Chance really loves the new show Yo Gabba Gabba. But
it is currently running on one of the stations that have commercials. 

Now, anyone who reads me should know that I don’t have a
problem with commercials in general. I
work in marketing, for god’s sake.  I
don’t have issues with supply and demand, earning money, spending money, or any
of the other trappings that go along with the capitalist lifestyle. I’m a capitalist, plain and simple. There I
said it… I’M A CAPITALIST! Buying into
“mass consumerism” while being a parent seems to be a no-no nowadays. And my response to that is… whatever.  (I mean, except for all the lead paint recall
crap… that seems a compelling reason to give your child bits of twine to play
with, maybe some rocks or an old spool.) I’m not going to knock anyone who opts out of the consumerism cycle, but
I’m not really overly concerned with being a part of it either.

However given that, I do think that it’s unhealthy to want
things all the time. I.e. I think there are habits you can fall
into, and let your kids fall into, where you want to buy stuff all the time…
just because it’s there.  And yes, I
think commercials do play into that (which it’s their job to do). I don’t
think commercials are the cause of always wanting to buys things; rather I
think it’s certain judgment choices (or lack thereof) and habits of spending that
make people buy.

Case in point, we didn’t have a whole lot of money when I
was a kid. We were still middle-class
but it was a tight-fitting middle-class. I believe the term is “house rich, cash poor”.  Both because of this and the fact that my
parents are naturally a little frugal we didn’t have lavish Christmases or
birthdays. Just a few small gifts a
year. We shopped sales or thrift
stores. I got very little spending cash
from my parents, or I earned my own. So
I learned to be discerning with the cash I did have, and to appreciate when I
had money to spend. It was never taken
for granted. And I think I formed and
took some good purchasing habits into adulthood.

(Granted I did (do?) have other issues with money, coming
from a tight financial background, such as the hoarding instinct and certain
purchasing “blocks”. Or, the flip side,
when you finally get your own disposable income and you blow it on a great
wardrobe and multiple pairs of eyeglass frames (you know, to coordinate with
the wardrobe) and the impulse buying sprees when I was depressed… but that’s a
whole other post. And anyways all those quirks faded as I got older, especially
after having a kid.)

Anyway, now I find I’m more hyper-sensitive about the
commercials’ effects on my kid than I would ever have been concerned about
commercials in general before.

Because Chance zeroes in on those commercials like nobody’s
business. “Aquadots!” he chirped to me
the other day, pointing excitedly to the TV. Puppy Grows and Knows My Name! (This
one especially makes me roll my eyes, not least of which because I would have
been all gaga for this toy as a girl.) I’ve
tried to keep most of his viewing to the stations that don’t have commercials
but it’s hard when a show he loves, and seems to get a lot from, is initially only played on the rife-with-advertising stations. I just don’t want to get him
in the habit of seeing/asking/expecting extra toys he doesn’t need, you
know? I want him to develop good
spending habits and I know that starts with me (and honestly, I have more money
than my parents did at my age, so the struggle is also one of my own self-control).
And it’s not just what I can teach him
but also what I expose him to.  I could
(and do) try Tivo’ing his shows so I can edit out the commercials, but after a
while you’ve got a dvr full of children’s programming and it get’s really hard
to manage. I can’t always be there to
fast forward through commercials. Especially when you just want to put something on quick, that you know
will hold their attention, to jump in the shower for a minute. I try to use Sesame Street as a standby for these situations,
but I swear it’s like they only play the same five shows over and over. Even a two-year-old gets bored.

This might end up being a two-parter because it is a
complicated issue and it has as much to do with personal money issues than just
how you feel about commercials, but I wanted to ask… how do many of you deal
with the commercials or no commercials issue if you let your kids watch
TV? Have any of you run into problems
with it?

– the

P.S. Please disregard my previous drunken post.  I can’t believe how difficult it was to type.  Sadly, I actually had tried to correct the
typos. Or I thought I was correcting the
typos.  I hate typos.