Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Talk it Out Tuesday: How much tv do you let your kids watch?

Ah the evil ways of the television...
You name the violent, rude, unprofessional, juvenile, utterly atrocious act in the last several generations, and it has been blamed by many on TV.  Kind of interesting, since the TV is a totally inanimate object that, on it's own, really can do no harm what-so-ever (unless it should unnaturally "Transform," rip it's cord out of the wall and launch itself at you).  But yet it gets a pretty bad rap for causing all kinds of hate and discontent.  Not to mention it's ability to force-feed Bon-Bons into the mouths of entranced toddlers, causing an epidemic of child obesity....
Maybe you see where I'm going with this?  I don't think these are issues that can be blamed on a box with a picture in it.  The finger can quite easily be pointed at the supervising adult, however.  As terrifying as it may seem, there's a fair amount of responsibility involved in being a parent.  So how much screen time do you give your kids?  Do you have specific rules (not on school nights, not until homework is done, not ever)?  Do you supervise their viewing?

Here's how it's handled in our house:
1.  We don't have cable television.  Before you go all "holy mother of deprivation!" on me, please know we're not even close to wanting to be that disconnected.  We have my husband's old laptop hooked up to the TV (in a way that only my tech-savvy hubby could have ever figured out), and we watch the programming that's available for free on the networks' websites, hulu, etc.  It's terrifying though to have a 7-year-old boy sitting on the couch in front of the World Wide Web.  So I have a "TV" folder bookmarked online that has kid-appropriate shows that I've pre-approved of.  The Kid is allowed to click things in that folder, and that folder ONLY.  If he clicks outside the folder, or goes anywhere else online without pre-approval, he's kicked of the couch for the rest of the evening.  We've done the same thing in the office with the desktop computer.  The Kid has a folder in the favorites with the games he likes (mostly on the LEGO site.  check it out.  it's awesome), and that's where he's allowed to cruise.

2.  No TV allowed before homework is done.  Why they get so much homework in 2nd grade is beyond me, but whatever...

3.  We limit to no more than 3 hours a day on weekends and school vacations.  I know 3 hours sounds like a lot, but it's one movie in the morning on a rainy day, and 2 episodes of Sponge Bob before dinner.  On a very rare occasion of wicked nasty weather outside and a Mommy that's feeling way under the weather inside, he might get to have a 2-in-a-row movie day.  And some days he doesn't watch any at all.  It evens itself out.

4.  I'm totally OK with using the television as an electronic babysitter (gasp!), within reason.  I don't think it's healthy for kiddos to be parked in front of it all day and night while parents do whatever they want and pretend their kids never happened.  I do however feel that it's completely appropriate for The Kid to enjoy a movie while Mommy writes a blog, clicks away on Pintrest, and chit chats with some buddies on Facebook.  I'm still within earshot should he fall off the couch in a fit of not being able to sit still, and it gives me some time to chill out and feel like a grown-up.  This benefits us both greatly in the long run.

Photo from Green Parenthood.

Thanks for stopping by,


  1. My kids have limited tv time as well. With the weather getting warmer up here in Wisconsin, they are spending much more time outside playing instead of sitting in front of the tv. I agree that parents need to control what their kids watch instead of blaming the tv for corrupting children's minds. My kids are little (4 year old twin girls, 3 year old son) and I defintaly don't see a problem with letting the tv babysit while I make breakfast. I do like using Netflix opposed to cable tv because we can avoid the "I want", "I need" everytime a commercial for an overpriced, Japanese made toy comes on the screen. Grr I hate commercials! My girls are convinced they need this new mermaid Barbie with changing hair. No, not for $22 dollars they don't.

  2. I LOVE not having commercials anymore! that may, possibly, be the very best part about not having cable, even above the money-saving factor.