An Audio Alternative for the Media-Cautious Parent

I think I’m what the internets would call a media-cautious parent.  Basically, I’m careful about what my children see on (computer or television or handheld) screens, because I’m often not crazy about what’s playing on those screens or the way they engage or disengage my boys, as the case may be.  In our house, we are contented to live without cable (a decision that long preceded parenthood), and use our old TV to play the occasional DVD.

But I had wondered about good quality storytelling on audio, like a radio program.  The same issues arose around content though, and as I didn’t take the time to delve into the possibilities, it left my mind.

But I’ve recently discovered Sparkle Stories*, an online source for audio stories for children (they also have a lovely blog, which sometimes features written stories).   Its husband and wife creators promise that each week its listeners will receive an original and entertaining story for up to six different storylines.  Told by the husband, a Waldorf teacher, these stories are designed to nurture the imagination and foster a sense of wonder in the world.

So we gave a try to Martin and Sylvia, a series about a brother and sister, geared for 4-8 year olds, and I think we’ve hit on a success.

I have a confession:  I haven’t listened to completion any of the stories we’ve played so I can’t tell you more.  That’s because I was working, or cooking, or tending to my other kids.  Because the reality is that a good part of the attraction of Sparkle Stories, like its media counterparts, is that is buys a divided parent a bit of time.  But for me, the media-cautious parent, the other major appeal is that I don’t feel like I need to know more about the stories, because I trust the source.

While my 5 year old didn’t turn somersaults in the air after his first story, he has quietly asked for it again and again.  And that’s another thing I like about our experience with the Sparkle Stories.  There’s no gimmick or glamour, just a good tale told well.  It doesn’t overpower the listener or lull him into a trance.  But when I watch my son gaze out the window during for the duration of an entire story, I’m quite sure his heart and mind are going to intriguing places, and kind of wish I could follow along with them.

* Sparkle Stories doesn’t know about me.  I’m just telling you about them because I like them.

2 thoughts on “An Audio Alternative for the Media-Cautious Parent

  1. I love the photo with this post. It reminds me of wonderful times in my own and my daughters’ childhoods staring out the window, listening and traveling to places in the mind.

    We’re out the other end of being media cautious parents [Kidlet is 20+] and upon reflection, I’m happy that we were. Don’t get me wrong, with a toddler I used the 30 minutes Fred Penner and Mr. Dress-up gave me for years. But, we’ve never had cable or owned a video game. [I didn’t even own a television until I married into one].

    Once they hit school and go to friend’s houses, they get exposed to it all. And I was the curmudgeon of the parents when it came to the internet. We planned our house so the computer area was in a family, heavily trafficked, area of the house. The rule was I got to know all the passwords and can log into anything she was doing online until she turned 18 and I was no longer legally responsible for anything she did on the internet. Period. End of story.

    Besides the fact that she moved 4 provinces away to university before she was 18, we “came of age” and went through the tweens and teens as internet chats and web cams were becoming a part of everyone’s daily lives. [Thank goodness texting happened after she moved out on her own!] I was horrified when her best friend got a web cam for her own computer, in her basement bedroom, far from supervising eyes. –shudder–

    Now, there is definitely a generation gap when it comes to sharing things online. When she started with facebook, it was still a university only thing. I was asked to, and did, stay away from it when it went mainstream until some advocacy work I was doing for an election made not being on facebook awkward. Now we’re facebook friends and I have the “good facebook parenting” approval from her real friends.

    On the plus side, it sure was a delight to be able to email, IM and see her dorm room through her web cam when she moved far away. A big difference from when I was stationed in the Arctic when I was 20 and it was $2.00 a minute for a long-distance phone call.

    Once she learned to read, we couldn’t pry her nose out of a book. There were serious parent-child conflicts trying to lure her outside and away from her books. I didn’t get any sympathy from the other mothers that were desperate to get their kids away from their Nintendos to look at the books they had to read for school. That was an ironic and I guess “good” result of the “be careful what you wish for” variety.

    She’s now a budding linguist and after two years in their own house, Kidlet and her roomies just bought a TV to watch the occasional DVD, and they are still cable-less.

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