Friday, June 25, 2010

FF: Kids & TV & TV.
Pot = stirred, no?

We know there are some strong feelings about this out there; we'd like to hear them. Here are some questions to get things started:

* How do you regulate TV at your house? A time allowance? Content? Certain channels?

* Sometimes I like to have my kids earn TV as a priviledge ("If you get all your jobs done this room cleaned you can watch a show...") Does anyone else out there take this approach?

* I know some of you don't let your children watch any TV at all (some of you don't even have a TV in your home); tell us about this choice. And how/when do you take a shower? :)

* Do you think your child's media intake effects his/her creative play? In what ways?

Thanks in advance for sharing your thoughts! Happy Weekend!


liz said...

Our kids watch very little tv, because they only get one hour of "screen time" per day (sometimes two in the summer) and they'd rather use it playing video games. It is our #1 motivator, since jobs must be done before screen time, and screen time gets taken away when kids are fighting or whining. We have to be very strict about time limits, or our kids would spend all of their time in front of the tv/video games/computer.

In terms of content, I don't think any set of rules can be a substitute for parents PAYING ATTENTION to what their kids are watching. That being said, one of the hard things is not knowing what your kids are watching/playing when they're at someone else's house.

Rachael said...

This is something I really feel strongly about. We don't have a TV in our home (our kids are 5, 3, and 1); occasionally, we do watch DVDs on our computer (our kids only watch them once every three or four months).

I grew up without a TV, as did all four of my sisters. I credit this for helping us all love reading to the point where it made us all very successful academically--extremely high GPAs, full-ride scholarships to college, starring roles in school plays, state speech and journalism championships, sports etc. We all just had a lot more time to pursue things like that because we weren't spending any time watching TV.

Honestly, it really hasn't been an issue with my kids. They've learned to entertain themselves, because TV just isn't an option. I can take a shower, spend an hour cooking dinner, or run on the treadmill without them coming in and asking me to entertain them--because they know how to do it themselves. I think it would be harder if we had a TV, because they wouldn't be so independent in terms of imaginative play. And one other thing that I LOVE--they will literally spend two hours looking at picture books (none of them are old enough to read yet). I don't think books would be as appealing if we had a TV.

One thing I've noticed if they watch TV elsewhere--they're always cranky, whiny, and end up sitting around refusing to play afterwards.

Meghan said...

I'm Rachael's mom, and from the perspective of all five kids being grown-up (OK, the 17-year-old isn't out of the house, but she assures me she's grown up) I'll confirm that skipping TV ownership was one of the best things we did to develop our children's creative thinking and academic skills.

Yes, there were times I wished I had a TV to tend the kids for a hour or so, but books on tape are very effective and stimulate much more creative thinking than watching Sesame Street. Coloring a picture of Aslan while listening to C.S. Lewis calms things down and keeps the kids busy during dinner prep.

The two most common comments we received were "What about National Geographic Specials?" They survived and managed to thrive in science classes in spite of their Nat'l Geo deprivation.

The other comment was "My husband could never give up football/basketball/baseball." That's just sad, considering the advantages to the children, including having an involved Dad who isn't parked in front of the TV.

Don't think about what you'd be giving up. Think about all your family will gain.

Sarah said...

We have tv at our house, and I'm definitely guilty of letting my kids watch it too much. My kids are only allowed to watch pbskids, and I try to make sure that things get done before they can watch. They need to work on their reading and work sheets.We also only have one tv and it's in our main family room, so whatever they're watching, I'm also watching or listening to. When school is in session it's easier to regulate the time because they can't watch until they've read and done school work, and they can't watch after supper. Now though we just have to try and get out of the house as much as possible!

Me said...

I feel like t.v. is fine if it's not too much. Actually we don't have tv as in channels, we just have dvds or videos (or now that we're in Switzerland, youtube) that we get for them to watch.

I watched some t.v. as a kid, as did all my siblings-- an afternoon cartoon here and there, or occasional movies (in fact, Sunday afternoon's Wonderful World of Disney was a tradition we all look back on very fondly), and we all LOVED reading (as in, my parents had to go from room to room taking away flashlights at night and confiscating books), did really really well in school (straight A's and scholarships, etc), and loved playing and being outdoors, did sports, musical instruments, etc. Basically I'm saying we were perfectly well-rounded and well-adjusted children and adults. (Ha!)

I think that like eating sweets, a little is okay if your also getting -for your main diet- a lot of wholesome nutritious stuff. So, watching some shows/movies is fun and can be a good thing. Too much is never a good thing.

So, let your kids watch a little t.v., especially if it's a dreary rainy or cold day. Then make them get up and do something else. And don't feel guilty!!!! Too many people beat themselves up over this issue IMO. There are more important things to worry about.

(p.s. I guess I do want to point out however, that I don't believe in video games/nintendos/the like.)

Steph said...

We ditched the TV a couple of years ago and haven't looked back. I know that strict time limits work for a lot of families, but for us, if we have a TV at all, it's way too much of a temptation to have it on all the time. It was easier for us to just quit cold turkey. We do watch a DVD together on the laptop every Friday night and we make a party of it-- although in the Summer we usually prefer to do something outside together on Fridays.

I'll admit: the first two weeks after we got rid of the TV were REALLY hard for our family. But after that, the kids just figured out how to entertain themselves. Now they (ages 5 and 4) can spend hours coming up with elaborate pretend games, reading books, coloring, being outside and all sorts of other good stuff.

The other day it occurred to me: my house would probably stay cleaner if I let my kids watch TV. Even 30 minutes a day would be 30 minutes that they're not engaged in some sort of mess-making. But as frustrating as messes are, I still don't think I'd go back. I love seeing them engaged in life and with each other. And they're (gradually) learning how to clean, too.

This is a great discussion. As all families are different, no one needs to feel guilty about their choices in comparison to others, but it's good for ALL of us to reexamine our relationships with media and how we spend our time. Thanks Bloom!

Sugar Mama said...

My kids are 13,11, and 7.

they've been watching tv since they were babies, and I've never had a problem with it. Of course, my husband and I have always monitored what they watch. We don't watch the news, adult cartoons such as Family Guy, and certain stations are forbidden.

My kids are super creative. I don't think it has interfered. Certain shows like The Amazing Race have created great conversation. and then there are other shows, such as Phineas & Ferb, that we watch just because it makes us smile. I see no harm in that.

I don't set a timer. They watch in the morning. They turn it off and go outside to play on their own. Some days are lazier than others. We just don't really obsess about it much.

I try to set an example with my internet time. If I can sit on here all day then I can't really say much about them watching the TV all day.

Jonesy said...

In the last couple of years I've made a conscious decision to turn the TV off. It's probably only on once or twice a week during the day, and then only for about 30 min. I've noticed a big change in how well my children play together, and for how long they get along without an argument! I'm really loving the peace that has come into our home because of this.

That's not to say we don't turn on the tube when the kids go to bed--often my husband watches while I work and I halfway pay attention to it in the background. For us, it's a good way to mindlessly unwind after a long day.

There are a couple of things that kinda stuck out to me in the previous comments, though...the first implying that TV prevents children from growing up to be academically successful. I never grew up with restrictions on TV, and it was on pretty much all the time at my house. I was still able to graduate at the top of my class, with several scholarships to my university of choice (Go Cougars!), as well as excel in three different varsity sports, be involved in school leadership, as well as different clubs throughout high school and college.

I was also a little thrown by the comment about watching sports on TV. We come from a big time sports-loving family, which includes playing AND watching! We love the time we get to spend cheering on our teams together, and I don't think it's detrimental to any of us to do so.

Keep in mind that ANYTHING (including TV) that becomes MORE IMPORTANT than your family and esp. being a parent is where the problem lies. I just think it's an awfully big assumption to make that TV is the one and only culprit, though I understand the need/desire to regulate it, and even eliminate it for some people.

Savannah said...

I don't really have anything constructive to add, other than to say that I currently only have 1 child, 13 months old, who I don't let watch any sort of tv. I'm enjoying learning and seeing other perspectives so I can plan for our future. :) Thanks Bloom!

Jonesy said...

Rachael & Meghan--read over my previous comment & totally wasn't trying to be offensive--just offering a different perspective!

Steph--SPOT ON with the "my house would probably stay cleaner if I let my kids watch TV" comment!!! Definitely a struggle we're dealing with here since limiting screen time!

Rachael said...

No offense taken. :-) I actually read over my comment several times before I published it because I was worried about being offensive myself.

I didn't mean to imply that watching TV is going to hold kids back from achievements. But I do think that when you aren't watching a lot of TV, that time is naturally going to be spent in other (hopefully productive!!) pursuits that will have different consequences for a child's future than a kid who watches, say, 2 hours of TV every day when their homework is done. Obviously, there's a big difference between this and a kid who watches half an hour a day every so often.

I think the biggest misconception about TV-watching is that it's a necessary evil so that we mothers can keep our houses clean, ourselves lovely and exercised, and put good dinners on the table. Women managed to do these things for millenia before TV came around; letting your kids watch half an hour of TV may make accomplishing these things easier, in some ways, but I just want to say from the "other side" that kids are perfectly capable of entertaining themselves quietly without use of a TV.

Bloom said...

My goal (which I don't always meet) is for the TV not to go on unless I'm on the treadmill or in the shower. If I do one of these things while my boys are merely playing, inevitably one of my children ends up outside in the street or trying to get on the treadmill with me. It's too dangerous/scary/frustrating. If I turn on a 20 minute show, they are distracted enough to stay put, and I can get my things done without worry.

I love TV for certain things--obviously the convenience, the educational aspect of many shows (Blaine is in love with Word World), and the popcorn and movie parties with the whole family. So fun!

Also, this might not be true for other kids, but my Blaine is suuuper imaginative and creative, and I feel like some of his favorite shows have actually positively contributed to that, rather than hindered it. For example, Fantasia inspired him to become a T-Rex. Which he is--ALL THE TIME.

I totally agree with what has been said about balance. I also agree that when the TV is off, the sky is the limit for learning, creative play, etc.


Britiney @ Consider the Lilies said...

My kids watch TV in the morning until my husband and I get up because it buys us a few more minutes of sleep. They're good about regulating themselves in terms of what they watch. They know what's okay and what's not okay with me. After that they get one hour of screen time and they usually choose video games instead of TV. Only my 5 year old would choose TV and again, he gets one hour a day. His only choices are PBS or shows that are okay with me that are on the DVR. Also, No carryover minutes. :O) If you don't watch TV or use your screen time today, you don't get to add it to your time for tomorrow.

Rae. said...

I have been mulling over this one myself for sometime.

I have two girls, 4 & 2, and television has slowly, slowly become a larger part of our lives than I ever intended (isn't that how it always starts?). Originally, my husband and I had cable and all was fine and dandy, but now I'm starting to realize that as long as there is a such a plethora of television programs to choose from, nobody is choosing to read a book instead.
One of my goals was ALWAYS that my children would learn to LOVE reading. This has been a good discussion for me to hear.
I'm not a fan of no TV in the house whatsoever, personally - I grew up that way as a kid and HATED HATED HATED it. When we did have TV, we were watching wholesome PBS shows like Reading Rainbow and Wishbone. I don't see any harm in that - in fact, I think there were huge benefits to such programs.

My compromise to myself is to cancel cable and limit our choices a little. Mainly PBS for my kids. It works for us!

Great discussion.

Jesslyn said...

Our 3 girls are still pretty young (the oldest is almost 3) and hubby and I decided before we got married that TV would be regulated. We DVR one show (Word World) for our oldest that she gets to watch after dinner while we're cleaning up. And Disney/Pixar movies occasionally throughout the week. Vegging out in front of the TV is not an option. Right now, we plan on giving TV time sort of as an allowance. Large "coins" in a jar representing the time and when it's used up, it's up. The coins can also be removed when jobs don't get done or behavior is bad. DVR is great for avoiding the mindless channel flipping. We'll be able to go straight to the program they wanted to see and fast forward through the commercials.
We always had TV and movies growing up but my parents also instilled a great love of reading in us that we are working to pass on so we read a ton around here. A summer tradition I'm looking forward to is DEAR week - Drop Everything And Read. It's a reading only week (no TV or movies). Fewer chores, lots of fun treats, and as many trips to the library as they want!

Melanie said...

Love reading everyone's insight and comments. I admire those who have given t.v. up completely. I am more of a moderation type of gal but in my yearning lately for a simple life (you know, like a chicken coop and milk cow for our suburban backyard), the t.v. would be the first thing to go!

Right now, we do the whole earn-the-t.v. program through chores (my kids are 6,4,3,1) and it rounds out to be about 30 minutes a day which really rounds out to me taking a shower during that time. What I've learned is that regulating t.v. is important (amen to the comment about paying attention to what your kids are watching), but I've also realized that my kids are still going to be ok if they watch 45 minutes instead of 30 or if they go two weeks without watching any (er, that hasn't ever happened, but you know what I mean).

We go through phases - after I have a baby, it seems the t.v. is on a bit more for coping purposes but during the summer? Playing outside trumps t.v. time (which also means I don't shower nearly as often as needed - sorry for TMI). However when winter rolls around (I'm in the vast bitter cold wasteland of the midwest here), t.v. watching goes up again.

I think for me it boils down to what my husband and I are comfortable with. I tend to obsess about it (my husband absolutely does not) and pound it in to my kids' heads that they don't need to watch a lot of t.v. And then I wonder why whenever they go to a friends' house that's all they want to do. I need to take deep breaths, focus on moderation and oh yeah, relax. As my husband pointed out, our kids are active enough to counter-balance the half-hour-ish of t.v. time they get.

It's a process - perhaps in a few years, we'll be watching even less. Maybe more, who knows. But as long as our family time is protected and I can tap my kids' heads and realize their brains haven't turned to mush yet, we'll probably be ok. I think the important thing is to not get complacent. My husband and I need to keep evaluating where t.v. time is at and set boundaries. There's no reason why my kids at their ages need to be watching anything in primetime, but a little Barney now and then doesn't seem to hurt.

I was reading a comment on another blog that was discussing something similar and a woman made what I thought was a great point - basically she said, resist the urge to do what’s best for you and focus on what is best for your child(ren) – whether it’s by not allowing TV at all just to make you feel better about your superior choices (not saying that this is why many choose the no-t.v. rule) or whether it’s allowing non-stop TV just to keep a clean house and get in the shower (uh, guilty!). Every mom has a right to choose what is best for their children!

Anyway, lots to think about. Thanks for opening up the discussion! And sorry about my novel-length comment.

Valerie said...

I have really liked reading everyone's comments about this. I am somewhat like Sugar Mamma.
My kids are 6, 3, and 8 weeks.
In the morning The kids usually watch a show. But then it seems like we get busy and doing lots of things and the tv doesn't get turned on until late afternoon (usually after I have done a craft with the kids and I need to make dinner.) I let my kids choose what they watch out of the things we DVR. My kids never watch "just what is on" we record everything so we know what they watch. Then right before bed the kids get to watch one show.
For now in my life I don't see the TV as posing any problems, so I am pretty laid back about it.
However as my children get older I might have to change my approach.
I just figure if you keep you children busy naturally, you don't even have to worry about setting a limit on the TV or internet. Sometimes it just flows.

Vicky said...

TV has definetely influenced my daughters' play. When playing with their dolls they use american "hannah montana-esque" accents! (which would be fine if they were from, or had ever been to America!)
I think TV can sometimes be a good thing, as some wonderful childrens programmes are made, or at least they used to be.
I think a lot of parents nowadays have issues with their children watching to much telly (myself included) as the content is very poor and very little effort is made by the channels to commission good programmes.
My childhood memories are full of wonderful cartoons and dramas like the chronicles of Narnia and the Little Princess, from the BBC.
I even own quite a few of the old shows on DVD, and my children will sit, riveted by them! A feat modern shows rarely achieve and a testament to their quality.
My eldests class was recently asked in school to find out what programs their parents watched... she took in a 3 page list (back and front), I know for a fact that she will not be able to do the same in 25 years time if asked by her children!

Lesley said...

I don't think our particular arrangement has been spoken to yet, so I thought that I would include what we are doing -- we have a big ol' TV smack in our living-room but our kids don't watch it. It is only on after they go to bed.

But here is where we might be different from other commenters: We take the approach of delaying TV access instead of simply forbidding it entirely. Despite my own dislike for TV I don't plan to "deprive" my children forever. When they are much older they will also be allowed to select programs to watch when younger siblings are in bed. I think I will probably allow them to do this when they are around 12 years old. We might introduce movies earlier than that.

My hope is that they will have established some good study and reading habits by then and their minds will have matured to a point where they aren't as vulnerable an audience. And they will be able to more actively decide how they want to spend their time -- I hope they will chose a more productive and enriching hobby. Perhaps by that age they will have seen the value of the other activities they have participated in and chose to continue with them.

Fellow mom's often ask how I deal with the wining for TV-- but the simple truth is that my boys just don't ask. They have watched TV at friends houses, and I think enjoyed it. But they know it is something we we just don't do at our house.

During frazzled moments when it's difficult to accomplish what I need to without children underfoot, I think of the same thing another commenter said, and I say to myself "mothers have functioned (completing far more domestic tasks) for eons without an electronic babysitter, and I can too!" It's probably true that my home is messier than others because of it, but I am okay with that.

Becca said...

I am in my late 30's and I have 5 children ranging from 2 to teens. So I realize that most of you still have very young families and I remember being there and it goes by so fast. I have made plenty of mistakes along the way but I just have a few thoughts.

T.V. is just one bit of the whole big picture. It is usually the first thing we have to deal with when our children our small. As kids get bigger, moms have to add other items to the list of choices. Along comes computers,electronic games of all kinds, friend time, sports, phones, cell phones, after school activities etc... So my thoughts are that:

1. We need to set rules, limits etc... when kids are young with each issue that comes up and try to stick to them as best we can.
2. Be forgiving of ourselves when we don't stick to these rules perfectly it happens to everyone.
3. Remember that as the kids get older the rules, etc... will need to change and adapt to the age of the child.
4. Each child is different. Most rules can apply to all but some allowances will need to be made for others.
5. Remember that extremes for anything is not usually good. Too much is never good but sometimes cutting something off completely can come back to bite you when kids get older. Again it depends on the child.
6. Teens are a lot harder than young children so establish good rules, habits, limits etc... when young.

I have loved reading Bloom you ladies are doing a great job!

Phoebe said...

Interesting discussion, but WOW, a couple of the initial commenters have me thinking that with all the time they've gained from not watching any TV, they've sure used a lot of it to develop superiority complexes.

Anonymous said...

Amen Phoebe.
I grew up watching T.V. and I turned out happy and normal. I did well in school... though I wasn't amazing, and I can guarantee that it wasn't because I watched T.V. that I wasn't number 1 in my class. We could pretty much watch it whenever we wanted, but I don't remember watching it a ton. It just depends on what works best for your family. I agree that using it to the extreme isn't good, but television isn't evil.

Amanda said...

Having my daughter made me step back and look at MY TV viewing habits. For example; How much our TV was on "For background noise". She is 8 months old and I realized our Tv was on too much when she would be in her jumper in the livingroom and look toward the Tv then back at me if it was off. So now we only have channels 2-12 and right now I am ok with that. It give me more incentive to craft, read, play with B etc instead of watching TV because honestly 99% of the time their is nothing good on.

The MOB said...

I grew up with no major TV restrictions (my parents did monitor what we watched) and we didn't care to watch it very often. We were big readers, liked to play outside, and participated in lots of extracurricular activities.

That being said, now that I have my own munchkin (20 months), we don't watch much TV. Occasionally he will watch a little PBS kids, but the TV isn't on much during the day.

My husband and I made a conscious decision to try to watch less TV once we had our own child. We still watch movies/shows (mostly netflix), but we do it after our son goes to bed. We don't have cable beyond local channels and our television is located in the separate family room, not in the main living area. We have found those two things really curb our desire to watch more TV.

Everything in moderation.

Rae. said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Rae. said...


I totally get where you are coming from, I admit I had the same feelings myself while reading through some of the comments. However, I do think that often those that feel the "strongest" about some things, although well intended, can seem a little alienating.

I really appreciate all the discussion though, but tend towards moderation myself.

I remember this one mother, who was so (bless her heart) religious about feeding her children the most natural, organic, healthy food on planet earth. Good, right? Yes.... Until her poor kid showed up to the birthday party armed with a bran muffin as his own substitute for a cupcake. This was like 15 years ago, and I can tell you - the poor kid will never live it down. The shock and horror that struck every other kid at the party was palpable, as this poor, pale (overly sunscreened) child ate his measly muffin. Haha, I still laugh about it to this day. And I always say, I refuse to be the bran muffin mom, sugar be danged.
It could possibly apply to TV too, eh?



Susan said...

I appreciate that this is a discussion where we are learning from each other's experiences. It's hard not to become defensive or sound preachy in a topic like this, so I hope my thoughts are taken as one more piece of an important conversation. :)

For the record, we have 3 kids -- 8,5, and 3 -- and have never had a TV. We do sometimes watch TV or youtube on the Internet, as well as DVDs a few times a week.

I think it's important to back up and think about WHY we are discussing the need or importance of limiting TV watching. Sure, it could be a drain of time and a distraction from better priorities, but so could reading (I am easily caught up in a good book) or other seemingly healthier activities. My primary concern with television is the nearly constant selling of consumerism, sexuality and violence, even in subtle ways. This happens obviously through commercials, but equally during children's and adult programming. I have a doctorate in media studies (I include this not to boast, but to say this is a topic I've both studied academically and experienced as a parent). I have no doubt that the everyday consumption of mass media teaches and reinforces various powerful ideologies, whether it's that stuff will make us happy or that girls and boys do certain things. Even as a savvy media consumer (or so I like to think), I find my thoughts and attitudes very much influenced by what I view. When I watch home-improvement shows, I notice the failings of our home. When I watch sit-coms, I come away in a more cynical mood. When I watch crime dramas, I feel more jaded and disquieted. There is nothing innocuous or objective about mass media. Still, most of us like to assume we're not affected by what we see and hear. That is a common theme in mass media research.

One more thought in response to some earlier comments -- my sisters and I grew up mostly without a TV. As adults, some of us have full cable, some have no- cable TV, and a couple have no TV. Some of us love reading, some some not so much. We have scientists, dentists, Moms, teachers, etc. TV ownership and viewership is not a predictor of later success or intelligence. It can, however, influence our beliefs and values in subtle yet powerful ways. That impact will, of course, vary by person, but that's a risk we need to take very seriously.

I'm looking forward to hearing others' experiences. Thank you!

Estee said...

We have a Tv that's connected to the DVD only. We watch a movie once a week usually, the TV is mostly for music concerts.

My kid (nearly 2 yo) watches concerts with us but not movies.
When we visit friends or family that have TV he doesn't even show interest in it.

The reason we're not connected to TV channels is that it's a waste of time. Ever since we unplugged the TV 5 years ago we are all much more productive and we communicate much better.
I have more time to spend with my husband and kid and we have a lot more fun than sitting next to a box and staring.

However, when we are visiting people that have TV I won't forbid my kid to watch.

Bethany said...

My kids are still young (2 1/2 years and 10 months) and I haven't had to deal a ton with this issue yet. Here are some of the thoughts I've had so far:

When my oldest was first born I was very against TV talking how I would rarely allow her to watch it. That didn't last. And I'm okay with it. She knows her letters, numbers, and letter sounds because of some of her DVD's (I also work with her on them; I'm not leaving it entirely up to media to teach her, but it's been a big help).

We'll never go entirely without TV and at this point I don't think we'll use it as a reward, but we'll see when we get to that point. My plan for now is to encourage them to do other things and to have other activities easily available to them.

Growing up, there was a family in my neighborhood who had a TV for occasionally watching movies in the evening, but nothing else. I think that's fine... as long as the parents help them figure out other options. Their son would try to find other peoples houses to watch TV at. He'd come and ask to play with my brothers and then he'd just want to watch TV the whole time. Many times my brothers would leave the room while he watched because he refused to do anything else. Needless to say, my brothers did not like this "friend" at all. He was using them for TV, which is extremely sad.

So I guess my point is, I'm okay with TV, but I don't want it to be watched constantly. I'm going to make sure my kids have other activities to do that they enjoy.

LJ said...

Oh, the timing of this forum is just perfect as we gave up TV (we do still have a DVD player three weeks ago!

Like a lot of you I grew up watching TV. However, my mom's rule was "if it is light outside you must be outside playing."
My friend uses a similar rule: she only lets her kids watch TV on the weekends and that seems to be a nice compromise.

I certainly don't judge what any one else does, but for me it was just too easy to turn the television on for my boys so that I could get other things done. I hardly think that watching a few episodes of "The Backyardigans" did them any harm, but once my oldest turned 5, I noticed that he was no longer interested in watching those cute preschool-ish shows. He wanted to move on to bigger and better shows (i.e. Cartoon Network--Yikes!). He also started reciting all the ads he saw and insisted that I buy "the magic brownie cutter" and "the magic toothpaste dispenser." I hate the content of much of what is on tv; but I hate the constant barrage of advertisements even more! That's why (again, for me)I decided to give up television.

Like Steph, the first few weeks were a major adjustment! And after a week, my oldest told me "Mom, we need to order TV!" He has since adjusted and we are finding more interesting ways to spend our time. In the future we may have to make changes, but for right now this is working for us.
Thanks for the lively discussion, Bloom!

Cathy said...

Long before I even thought children would ever be in my home, I wrote a post called "how to kill you television" I am still trying to answer that question. Even now I sit watching the World Cup game.
I find it easy to say that there are benefits for my kids, but I know the reality is that I WANT to watch tv, I don't need to and yes, I would have more time in my life if I didn't. As a parent it is easy to look at how it affects our kids and forget to look at how something effects us.
there are MANY mornings when my kids wake up and "read" books to each other while letting me and my husband sleep or shower. They only turn on the tv when I come out and sit down on the couch - what sad commentary on what I have taught them.

Thank you for the ideas and the reminder that no matter how I look at it, this is an addiction and a matter of developing self control. Some people have soda - I have tv. Time to kick the habit to the curb (or maybe just the other room)

Lisa said...

I am a mother of four: 9, 6, 4, and 2. And, oh, this is hot topic, isn't it? My bottom line is keep em' young (no adult-influenced Hannah Montana or crude animated shows, we stick with PBS, Noggin, and G-rated DVDs) and free from addictions to technology (which means, moderation, for heaven's sakes! And we don't do video games) But, in showing them both moderation and wise-choices in TV, I think we can also teach them about moderation and wise-choices all around. TV's a priviledge and it is also not our only entertainment.

I'm not opposed to TV, if it falls within your family values and keeps 'em young. So much TV today is trying to teach them how to grow up too fast and expose them to mature themes.

I also don't underestimate the learning they get from an educational preschool show, taught in an entertaining way. For example, if I sit at the table with my 4 year old to go through phonograms, he doesn't last as long as during PBS's Word World, which is 30 minutes of letters, words and the sounds they make. I am in the kitchen doing dishes and I repeat or reinforce what they hear: "Ooh, what else in this room starts with the B sounds, guys?" I think that's just great!

One of our rules is during the school year, our children don't watch TV except on Fridays and Saturdays and a church video on Sunday (maybe). But in the summer in 110 degree AZ weather, well, that TV gets a little more use--and I won't beat myself up about it. When we've filled our summer with the beach, amusement parks, aquariums, museums, play dates, sports camps, swim lessons, and indoor hour a day with them quietly watching an appropriate show is much-needed down time for all of us. And I also won't convince myself that they won't excel academically, socially, or athletically if they are allowed to watch Curious George every once in awhile.

Mrs. Cropper said...

When I told me m-i-l about this conversation, she asked me what the point/goal was in starting it? Were people just taking one side or another and judging each other or were they really communicating? Would a mother be able to come away from this discussion ready to evaluate the media in her home or merely feel judged/compared to/etc?

I hope for all of you, it's that you can use all of this information and all of these opinions to form your own thoughts and habits regarding media. I know it caused a good discussion between my husband and me last night. What shows are our kids watching? How much are they watching? What could they be doing that would be more enriching? What shows are WE watching? How much? Is that really what we want to be doing with our time at night? I always love taking inventory and setting goals. It just helps me feel like we're living purposefully instead of just letting things happen.

Susan, I loved your comment. Thank you. You hit on some critical points that had yet to be raised.

Thanks everyone, for your honesty and courage to participate in this forum, no matter where you stand on this issue. As with most things, I don't think we have to think in absolutes here (except maybe that your 4-year-old shouldn't watch CSI!). I think every family has to think very critically about this and choose wisely for their situation.


Rachael said...

Reading through these has been really interesting--I especially appreciated Susan's comment.

@Phoebe, I hope you don't feel that I was denigrating any parents who choose to allow a TV in their home. What I wanted to do with my comment was to encourage others who are thinking about eliminating a TV and wondering if a) it's truly possible and b) it's truly worth it. My experience without a TV, both as a child and as a parent, has been incredibly positive, and I simply wanted to share that.

Joy said...

While we do have a TV we don't have cable. We haven't had it since my 8 year old was 2. It has been such a blessing in our house. I love that they don't know what the "it" toy is because they don't watch comercials and such.

Now this doesn't mean that my kids don't watch movies. We LOVE movies in our house. Our rules are that during the school year we only watch movies on the weekend. We love having a family movie night on Friday. Because there are no movies during the week the kids really look forward to Friday night. Now that it is summer they are only allowed one movie a day. So far it has worked well. They love watching Wipe Out online with their dad but this also counts as one movie so they have to wait until their dad gets home to watch which mean just playing all day and no movies. There you have it. This is what we do and it really works.

JJ said...

I would LOVE if my son would watch a show while my husband and I got a little more sleep since he consistently wakes at 4:30/5. We don't have a t.v. and putting a video on the computer and starting it is a bit beyond his capabilities at this time. We do let him watch videos, not everyday but at least a couple times a week. It's really about moderation, in my mind. We were allowed to watch t.v. when we were growing up (and I am a voracious reader, have a master's, did very well in school and sports, etc).

The thing we weren't allowed was junk food/processed food/etc. My mother was a very healthy eater and, by extension, so were we. I remember visiting friends and scarfing down sliced cheese and marshmallow fluff, not because I thought it tasted good but because I could eat it. I think that kind of behavior continued on through college because we weren't taught to enjoy treats in moderation and to choose those treats wisely. I think the same can be applied to many things, including t.v. I'd like to think it would have saved me some trouble if we had been allowed to have a little something "bad" for us once in awhile.

Anonymous said...

Well said. I am a medical doctor, grew up with no limits on tv watching or food. I watched lots of tv and a lot of the time it was shows that i didnt like because there was nothing else on (we didnt have a vhs till i was 13)also in australia there were only 4 channels at that time. I read lots of books and did very well at school. My parents however had very high moral values and I had a very strict upbringing in terms of going out, dating, sleep-overs not allowed etc. I now watch very little Tv < 1hour per week and only when children are sleeping. I have 3 children 10, 8, 4. Limiting tv for very young children is easy they are naturally curious about the world around them. Its all very well to speak about the positives of no TV but I will share with you my not so positive experience. About 2 years ago we decided to forego the tv completely, the children were told it was "broken".
It remained this way for a year and a half.
The reasons for doing this were:
1. Eldest child 8 year old boy at the time, not interested in reading at all despite being read to daily since a baby, borderline ADHD, behavioural issues at home but functioning well at school.

2.Some family friends have no TV and effects seemed positive.

In the year and a half of no tv my son did not show any improvement in interest in reading or creativity his grades at school actually went down and the most creative thing that he managed to do in that time was to work out a way to fix the Tv which he did. This was 8 months ago. We decided to introduce moderation: no tv during school week, limited viewing on weekends and holidays and mostly movies or channel with no commercials. I still feel guilty letting them watch any TV but I fear that my son might grow up and be addicted to tv because it was forbidden as a child.
He has now started to read at night of his own accord but definitely still not interested in academics or doing well at school. In essence I think it depends on the child more than the tv. I feel sad when I think that we gave up on no tv, but maybe thats because I had to give up my feelings of superiority?