My children don’t watch an enormous amount of television, they never really have. The main reason for that is because we are usually out and about doing things, and don’t have much time for sitting in front of a screen.
I’ve also written before about my concerns over the impact of screen time on behaviour. That said, as Libby approaches her first term at primary school, I worry that I’ll be disadvantaging her if I don’t let her use technology. As a result, I invested in an iPad so that she would know how to use it, because she’ll be working on one at school.
Since then, she has been playing on children’s educational apps and has also been watching a little bit more television. Both girls like to watch cBeebies in the mornings before breakfast. They watch it in our bed, so we know what they’re watching. This also means we can help them to work the iPad, monitor each programme and discuss any issues it throws up.
Why I’ve banned Bing
Both girls have their favourite programmes, but if there’s nothing in particular that one of them wants to watch, they often default to Bing. Let me tell you a bit about Bing. He’s a giant, talking rabbit, who is looked after by a little woollen creature called Flop. Flop looks like he’s perhaps supposed to be an ant.
There are various other characters that appear on the programme, including Sula the elephant and her carer Amma, Pando the Panda and his carer Padget, and Bing’s cousins Coco and baby Charlie. The stories are all very low-key, nothing much happens but they all result in something that Bing sees as a bit of a drama.
I checked out the Bing website, and apparently, the stories are supposed to be reflective of the trials and tribulations of being a pre-school aged child. Flop is supposed to be the voice of reason, helping Bing to deal with situations and cope with negative emotions. And the programme is supposed to help children to deal with their own issues.
Well I’m here to tell you that it doesn’t help. It doesn’t help in any way, shape or form. It’s awful. And what’s more, it is making my daughter awful.
We have always brought the girls up to know that they can express their feelings and tell us anything. But they also have to behave politely and respectfully to parents, teachers and other children. If they don’t like something they’ll tell us, and we’ll put things right if we can, or explain why we can’t.
What they don’t do is whinge, whine and strop. Until now. Since starting to watch Bing, Libby has started to behave terribly when she doesn’t get her own way. She mimics Bing’s voice, and even comes out with some of the phrases she’s heard on the programme. Coincidence? I think not.
So my question is, which came first – the chicken or the egg? Bing or the bad behaviour the programme claims to be dealing with? In our house, Bing came first and bad behaviour followed.
So from now on, Bing has been exiled. Lia is still allowed to watch it occasionally when Libby is out, as her behaviour hasn’t changed. Libby has been banned indefinitely – and probably forever. Since the ban, her behaviour has improved slightly, but she seems to have got into the habit of whining. So at the moment, she is having no screen time at all.
It’s quite nice to alter our routine, spending more time playing with their toys or outside. But I know that screen time will soon creep back in. I just hope that the Bing-induced behaviour doesn’t last, because I want my little girl back. My polite, kind, generous, confident and happy little girl.
And Bing can bog off.