Kids, TV, and Computers

My kids watch TV—dare I say it?—a lot. (Hey, don’t judge. I work from home, and sometimes you just gotta meet that deadline.) I do steer them toward educational programming, though. So, they watch a lot of “viewer participation” shows. You know the ones—Dora standing there on her little path, staring at you, waiting for your answer to her question about where she has to go next to get to whatever her goal is in that episode. (That Dora is very goal oriented. I could take a lesson from her.)

Do my kids participate when they are sitting on the couch watching Dora on our big screen? No.

But stream one of their regular, “viewer participation” shows on my laptop, give them a set of headphones, and they’re screaming out the answers to all of Dora’s questions, literally telling her where to go.

What is it with that?

I don’t get it. Why don’t they participate like that when they are watching her on TV?

Here’s my theory (you know I’ve got one).

We don’t watch computers. We interact with them. We do watch TV.

And this new, wired generation of kids comes programmed with that knowledge.

If you want to flake out and relax, you turn on the TV. No participation required. If you want to get involved or be part of something, you turn on the computer.

Now, I know it’s only a matter of time before TVs are interactive (they may even be right now. We’re just not the kind of family that keeps up with that kind of technology.) And I know for a fact that a decent computer screen is just as good for watching TV shows as is a TV. (My husband and I have been known to watch shows on the computer that we have missed or neglected to record.)

As this generation of kids grows up, the line between TV and computer will continue to blur. And this little gem that I heard from my daughter will be even funnier in a few years:

“I didn’t know you had TV on your computer! So cool Mom!”

~ Big Sister yelled this to me from less than two feet away while she was wearing headphones and watching Dora the Explorer on my laptop.


3 thoughts on “Kids, TV, and Computers

  1. Sami

    LOL @ that Goal-oriented Dora!!!
    I think you’re right! TV = mindless zombie work. Computers have so many input opportunities, that it’s almost demanded that you interact!
    Good thing you have TV on your computer 😀

  2. memyselfandkids

    My children watch more tv than I would like them to as well. I would say that when they used to watch those sort of shows that their interaction was spotty.
    When they are on the computer, it is more about games which involves them taking some action.

    1. Nancy Post author

      That’s it exactly. Although I must say, my son interacts more with the TV than my daughter does. I think it’s because he doesn’t understand yet that the characters on TV can’t see or hear him.


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