You have to. The kids are bouncing off the walls, shouting, crying, crashing around, misbehaving zestily and creatively. The TV quiets them down. They concentrate on the program. They become angels.
And thus you can cook, do chores and housework. Or just relax. After all, your job is demanding and getting more so. You deserve time to just veg.
But then the guilt sets in. Are you turning your kids into drooling automatons? Are you buying time at the expense of their future?
Here's an antidote: stories.
Read, or tell, your child a story. Unlike tube-staring (which is always done alone, even when there is a group of kids), stories are a group activity (you and the child, or you and the children). The sound of your loving voice, your physical closeness. It brings you and your child(ren) together. When else is pure love such a central part of your time together? I promise, your kids won't spend a moment thinking about the television.
Then there is the way the story works. It fires up your child's imagination (as opposed to the isolating blandness of the tube). It creates useful skills. Stories build vocabulary, teach children how to deal with confusion, fear, how to be a leader.
We live in a digital world, of this there can be do doubt: TVs, tablets, smart-phones, the computer. We cannot deprive our kids of this. But we can provide important balance. We can give them stories.
This article is an excerpt from John Olive's Tell Me a Story In the Dark.