Studies suggest that parking our children in front of the television for eighteen years straight and hoping for the best is perhaps not the best parenting strategy. I park places for extended periods of times myself, but usually only because I can’t find my car. That said, in many ways, my favorite streaming service–Netflix–often parents my kid better than I do.
1. Netflix always thinks to suggest “similar activities” – Netflix is like the proactive parent I want to emulate. When Netflix offers suggestions, it’s the same as me saying to my children, “I see you enjoyed making the living room hazardous by sprinkling Legos everywhere. Perhaps you would like to add to the overall look and feel by integrating an assortment of rainbow loom bands. After all, the Lego pieces are too large for the cats to chew up and barf all over the rug.” Both activities fall under creative construction with government disaster relief funding as a potential outcome. We could have a telethon, except I really hate talking on the phone.
2. Netflix keeps careful records – Netflix painstakingly documents everything my son has watched for future reference. I’m in awe of this, as I drown in belated field trip forms and overdue library books. My parenting mantra is “Was that today?!?!” Netflix could easily rework the Pepperidge Farms motto: “Do you remember the time you had a headache, and to get some peace and quiet, you let him watch sixteen cartoons? Netflix remembers.”
3. Netflix never forgets to check in – Netflix understands silence is incredibly suspicious and potentially dangerous, so it makes sure you are still alive and well, and haven’t been smothered by your Snuggy. Netflix asks “Are you still watching this?” I acknowledge I’m the one who assumes this is said with the same judgmental tone as people who ask “Are you STILL single?” Or “Are you STILL pregnant?” In reality, Netflix doesn’t care. Netflix understands. Netflix simply wants to save my spot for me, in case I find another weird twelve-minute window where I can do something for myself without interruption. I appreciate that, because my kid never saves anything for me. He routinely eats the last of everything, and the only thing he saves me are the announcements regarding the $3.84 for the special school activity occurring TODAY, mom.
4. Netflix teaches him stuff I wouldn’t think to teach him – My son is safely stowed on the Magic School Bus, regaled with animated adventures of white blood cells battling infection in the human body. He watches, enraptured in the health sciences lesson wrapped up in an action movie plot with a cheery soundtrack. He is never this impressed when I try to hide pureed vegetables in his brownies, but maybe I just need a catchy jingle to package it all.
Catchy jingles aside, I listen to the research and don’t permanently park my child in front of the television. I’m thankful for Netflix and the way it suggests similar things, remembers stuff and teaches him cool things. If only it could help me find my car, since Miss Frizzle probably won’t drive us home from the mall.
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Alison Tedford is a data analyst, a mommy and a pole dancer. She documents her journeys in fitness, feminism and parenting on Sparkly Shoes and Sweat Drops. You can follow her on Facebook and Twitter.