Informant (“M”) is a 52 year old woman from Bogota, Colombia. She moved to the United States in 1992, at the age of 30. She has two kids, a boy and a girl, who she raised in the United States. She has four siblings, two brothers and two sisters, she was the second born. She has a 102 year old Grandmother. Collection was over Skype.
“Me: You were saying something about ‘eyes turning into squares’…
M: Yes. When [son] would watch the television to much I would tell him to be careful or his eye would turn into squares.
(Makes impression of squares around eyes, with eyes turning from round into square)
Me: So it would happen slowly to him if he watched to much TV, not like ‘all of a sudden’?
Me: Was it to stop him from watching to much TV?
M: No really (laughs), it was for fun, como el Mano Peludo. ”
Analysis: El ‘mano peludo’ is a myth involving a hairy hand that would attack children in their sleep, sometimes associated with children that misbehaved. In reference to M explaining that it was similar to el mano peludo, she is explaining that it is used by adults to often tease children, it is not necessarily tied to any sort of moral lesson.
In regards to the ‘eyes turning into squares’ piece of Folklore, there appears to be many references to it on the internet:
The Mystery of the Mad Science Teacher by Marty Chan, 2008, pg, 171.
The myth itself appears to be addressed directly by many of the above authors as something heard during their childhood. This particular piece of Folklore thus appears to be used quite a lot in recent times, as the television as a fairly recent invention, this isn’t surprising. Though M did not use this particular piece of Folklore moralistically, it appears to be quite available for such usage. Her use of it rather, may be closer to the use of the Boogeyman, a way to tease children via their trust in adults.