Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Really, a car with two Televisions?

By Cole Buergi, Senior Account Executive, Leonard and Finco Public Relations

What kind of society have we become that we need to have two monitors in the back seat of a minivan so that two children can watch two different shows simultaneously? I ask because a commercial aired last night highlighting this technology and during the commercial I had to ask myself the following:

Are the children of today in such a desperate need of stimulation that they can’t even ride in a car without some electronic distraction? Are parents taking the electronic babysitter too far? Is it really that much easier to play a video in the car to distract your child than to have a conversation with them?

I asked some friends about why they feel they need to have this technology in their vehicle. Without exception, all say it helps keep the kids occupied and from becoming unruly, particularly on long trips. They are also quick to remind me (as if I needed it), that I don’t have children so I have no basis for an opinion.

It’s true, I don’t have kids. But I was one once (a long time ago). And I have fond childhood memories of riding in the car with my parents and just chatting and having them point out things to me as we went down the road. This included road trips to Florida and to Colorado. To entertain each other we talked, played road trip games and just enjoyed the scenery.

I’m also quick to point out that I have seven nieces and nephews that I transport to various places frequently and have done so for years. When we travel, there are no video games being played or DVD being watched. We talk about how school is going, what’s happening in their world or about what we see as we drive. It’s an opportunity for me to learn more about them and stay involved in their lives.

It’s also a break for them from the sensory overload of technologies they are bombarded with. I’m not against technology, it’s essential in our society and at almost every age level. However, the last thing I want is for one of my nieces or nephews fond memories of me is riding down the road while watching Ratatouille.

Do you agree or disagree? Are parents taking the electronic babysitter too far?


kr said...

I agree with this post if the electronic babysitter is extending beyond the vehicle. I know whenever I fly I always got my portable dvd player with me so in a way I use an electronic babysitter myself.

I just think it's important that these habits are not transferred to always sitting children in front of the television at home instead of participating in physical activity or taking spending "quality" time with them.

However, with the technology is's a wonder where it will end...

Rachel Lom said...

As a mother of four young children, ages 11, 8, 5, and 3, I agree and disagree with your post. We use our DVD player in the car on long trips. And in some cases it has been a real life saver (meaning it has saved the life of the child who was annoying me beyond belief!). However, we have also established many rules about when and where technology fits into our family life. For instance, absolutely NO DVD when driving anywhere less than an hour. Period. Also, TV does NOT belong at the dinner table. We eat together every night and talk about our days. In addition, I am a firm believer in no TV or computers in their bedrooms. We have a family computer on a built-in desk in the kitchen. They can ONLY use it if a timer is set, etc. So, yes, I remember playing the ABC game in the car and singing songs or reading as a kid. But we have taken family vacations (driving) to Florida, South Dakota, Colorado, and more, and the DVD and Nintendo DS get packed every time. Because it should be a vacation for both the kids AND me. And I like to read in the car.

Beth said...

I think having DVD players in vehicles for kids is a point. For instance, on really long drives, I'm sure it's a nice feature to have for both the kids and parents. However, I think if the player is turned on every single time a kid gets in the vehicle, that is a bit much.

cole said...

Excellent points to ponder. particularly the lifesaver comment. That I can appreciate. What kid doesn't remember their parents arm reaching aimless to scare you while still driving the car!