My three year-old daughter went to the eye doctor this past week. I was curious as to how they can test the sight of a child (“better or worse”) or on what they have them focus. As a child, I remember the “E” that went right or left or up and down. In this generation, they now use Barbie, Sponge Bob, Nemo, or other such big business characters. Her apprehension at being at the doctor’s office was exacerbated by the scary scene of a movie that was playing in the examination room. Unfortunately for the examiners, she did not recognize any of the characters. When they said, “Look at Dora,” she didn’t know what they meant. While waiting for her eyes to dilate, they put her in a room with another video running and some books. The video agitated her further until my wife turned off the TV, and they started looking through books.
A friend of ours had a similar experience at the mall this week. As if the culture of the mall did not create over-stimulation enough, the children’s clothing store in which she was shopping had a Sesame Street video running. It’s somewhat telling that we as a culture do not even stop to think that a video (regardless of content) might be offensive to some parents—whether at the mall, doctor’s office, or nursery room.
I have no doubt that my daughter could quickly become infatuated with an ubiquitous character or begin to choose a TV show over books. I just don’t want to give her that option until she develops more discernment with age and wisdom. For now, we’ll just enjoy the imagination that flourishes through reading and interactive play. It may be more time consuming and time intensive, but we already see the long-term benefits.