J.P. asks from Meridian, ID on March 02, 2010
TV Time - Meridian,ID
My son is 22 months, and I have another on the way, due in 2 months. My son has never had TV time. When he is awake, the TV is off. I plan to do the same for the next one. I have always heard that TV before 2 isn't good, so we know that we wanted to keep him away until AT LEAST that age. Now, I'm just not sure that there is any reason to change that, especially since the little one still has another 2 years.
Here is my question - Has anyone else restricted TV until a certain age? When did you decide to let them start watching and why? How did you handle the addition of a second child into the mix if you also wanted to limit their TV time? Did anyone decide that there was no reason to introduce TV? I do know quite a few people that do have kids that watch TV, and their feedback about some of the programs is scary. I don't want TV to be a big part of his life or day, and at this age, I know how obsessive they can get about little things. I just don't want TV to be an issue at all. Any experiences would be great, thanks. Oh, and did movies fall into this too in your situations?
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So What Happened?™
Thank you everyone. I'm not trying to shelter my children, but just would rather them learn to live without TV and use their imagination. I think I am going to take the advice that there is just no need to introduce it (no offense to anyone that needs it), and continue as we have been. I can't imagine there being MORE time for it with two! I would like to not have TV in our house, but my husband and I do watch it after our son goes to bed (Tivo'd, of course!). In the warmer months, we watch is much less, but with Tivo at least feel that we aren't doing the mindless watching, or feeling the leash affect of the TV. As they get older, I like the idea of a family movie night, but I think that will be a couple of years down the road, and probably just the older one first.
Thank you so much for all your input and support.
S.S. answers from Santa Barbara on March 02, 2010
My son did not watch TV until he was two years old. As a single parent, I had to relax the expectation because he was up every day at 5am. He was allowed to watch PBS (Clifford, Dragontales, Caillou, etc.) until I was up. It's nine years later. He loves TV, but there is no TV until homework, sports, dinner, bath is all complete. It has worked out well. He likes being active and outdoors and when I see that he's heading toward "couch potato" the TV gets restricted again. I have on "special occasions" allowed for all day marathons (me--deathly ill, really bad weather), but for the most part, I know that he consumes less than his peers and I have a strong opinion about what is appropriate for him to watch!
No TV is a good option too! Just not realistic in my situation.
F.B. answers from Kansas City on March 02, 2010
My son started watching tv around or just before 2, I was a single mom and he got to watch it when I need a break (he loved baby einstein while i made his food, i could see him). He is now almost 5 and it's still pretty much the same way. If he's being needy or just wants my attention while I'm trying to finish something for work (or while I'm at work) or when I was sick, he gets a little. Other than that, he doesn't and since he does get some, he doesn't fight for it because his friends have it. Good luck
S.W. answers from Salt Lake City on March 03, 2010
Good for you!
If you need more validation, check out Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood. I think their Web site is www.ccfc.org.
I was a media crit minor in college and this is a soapbox issue for me, even though I have relaxed a lot over the years. Children need real life, not virtual life.
We kept the TV completely off until well after my first son was two. The second and third sons (each three years apart) have had more screen time (and sugar, come to think of it) than my first, just because they were born into a world where the older one was permitted some.
We chose not to have cable until a couple years ago, and I don't regret that. We watched DVDs, usually together, if we watched anything at all. For me, it's as much about avoiding direct marketing to children as it is avoiding objectionable content and wasting time. I also avoid children's products featuring licensed characters, because life does not need to be one big commercial.
Now, they are allowed to watch one PBS Kids show in the morning and perhaps one in the evening, but that's about it unless we're having a family movie night or we're sick. I try to encourage them to CHOOSE a show, instead of just watching whatever appears before their eyes. We have a DVR so they rarely see commercials even when a show is recorded for them.
And my motives for permitting TV viewing are more about my own convenience (please let me use the restroom in private, kids!) than what I truly believe is developmentally appropriate--I wholeheartedly support anyone who chooses to be TV-free, but my hubby just was not supportive of complete elimination, and I am weak when suffering from morning sickness. ;) But really, there is no "reason" to introduce TV if it's not something you feel good about.
I was actually sort of pleased when we went to Disneyland last fall and my kids were not particularly attached to any of the characters--they hardly knew any of their names because I have been careful about what shows and movies they watch and have avoided anything that felt like product indoctrination. But this hasn't ruined their fun or made them socially retarded in the least; if anything, they have all the more fun ideas of things to do that are outside the script of a show. And they had a terrific time at Disneyland, their experience was just not defined by the characters or products.
Regarding content, you're wise to clarify your values and discuss content with your children so they learn to be wise media consumers. Saying things like "Wow! That's rough talk--do you think it's a good idea for families to talk to each other like that?" or "Do you really think that toy would do all that in real life, or do the makers just want you to get excited and buy it?" keeps the channels (pun intended) of communication open and helps them understand you are not a fun-hater, just very selective about what you want to spend your time watching and also teaches them to evaluate media messages carefully.
In one of my classes, we read a quotation from a media researcher who said that allowing your children to watch TV unsupervised is like allowing a stranger to come over and baby-sit and teach your children values. I know I sounds like an uptight stick-in-the-mud to some folks, but seriously, no thanks!
Remember that whatever you decide to do is normal to your children. Your decisions may be outside typical American culture, but your motives are wise and there is plenty of time for your children to become viewing consumers; it's not something you'll ever have to teach! The careful choices are what you can model.
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B.W. answers from Denver on March 03, 2010
Hi there, well I have to say that I may be one of the few out there but we don't even have a TV in our house. My daughter is two and a half and we have movies like baby einstine and some others along that line. She watches them every now and again and once we watch one she wants one again the next day. If we don't watch one she will forget about it and two months has passed that she has not had anything at all. I always watch the movie with her which gives us time to talk about the animals, what they eat, where they live and so on. Usually the days that we watch them are when I am sick and she is not due to the fact that I am a SAHM and don't have the energy that I usually do.
I personally believe that TV is not that great for any of us in general but I also believe all things in moderation.
Your children will see TV at friends homes and may ask for it when they are older but cross that when you have to.
I give you props for not having the TV on in your home and would encourage you to continue that trend.
Good Job Mama!!!
2 moms found this helpful
A.T. answers from Denver on March 03, 2010
We leave the TV off, if it's off it's not an issue. My daughter gets to watch a "show" here and there, which might be a movie(fast forwarded through all the previews and ads), some On Demand Momma-approved show (then there are no commercials), but it's rare. Mine gets plenty of screen time incidentally at the gym's kids club, and what I usually do is ask what they're watching, and my daughter has no qualms about asking for something different, neither do I.
So, yes, I limit. Not only because I disagree with content of the shows themselves, but I REALLY dislike the advertising & commercials---talk about conditioning! My daughter can already recognize a Red Lobster restaurant, we've never been there, and my guess is that she's seen the commercials enough while my husband watches sports...that's a bit creepy to me!
I also make a point to watch with her (as much as I reasonably can), and watch her while she's watching. This way we can talk about whatever might be happening in the show, I can pick up on cues from her if she appears frightened or concerned about something. If it's something new, my husband or I will ALWAYS watch with her. That way if we decide it's inappropriate, we just pull the plug and find something else to watch or do.
On another note, TV can seriously damage the imagination and can be addictive. I've hard copies of an article, "TV Detrimental to Children" by Dr. John Briley, and an essay "TV and Our Children's Minds" Dr. Susan R. Johnson, MD. These might be on the web, if you're seriously interested I don't mind mailing copies.
Great job mommin', great questions!
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P.M. answers from Portland on March 02, 2010
I got rid of my TV when my daughter was in 5th grade. She missed it for the rest of that school year, but the following year, she thought her friends had become boring. All they could talk about was the shows they watched. My daughter did projects and read good books. We had great family time together.
Thirty some years later, I can't imagine how I'd fit television into my life. My daughter and son-in-law dropped their cable service last year, and are not missing television. My 4yo grandboy is happy without it. They can still rent DVD's or borrow from the library to see the best educational TV.
An additional (HUGE!!!!) advantage is no exposure to all that seductive advertising. It's designed to convince us to buy stuff we really don't need, and it does a great job. Your children will hound you far less to buy them toys, sugary cereal, candy, etc. if they don't see it advertised.
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K.H. answers from Denver on March 03, 2010
Way to go! My first didn't have tv as a baby, then when she was about 2 she watched sesame street once a week while I cleaned, and that was it. I did the same with my son (they are three years apart). I'm not sure when they began watching more, but it was only occasionally and only shows or movies I was very sure of. What worked for us was that at the end of the day, they cleaned up and then could watch maybe 1/2 hour while I got dinner ready. That way they were motivated to clean up, and everything was calm and clean before dinner. They are now 9 and 12 and we still only watch once or twice a week (family movie night, and usually Extreme Home makeover). We make some exceptions of course, like for the olympics, but really they are too busy to do anything more. Hang tight--there are others out there who don't plug in their kids.
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A.S. answers from Salt Lake City on March 03, 2010
I have a daughter who is almost 4, and a son who is 1 1/2. I didn't let my daughter watch TV before 2 because of the AAP's recommendation. After she turned 2, we just kept the TV off because we had gotten used to doing more creative things in our free time. It hasn't been hard to keep my son from watching TV, because we just aren't big TV watchers at all in our home. I don't think watching an occasional movie is bad for my daughter, but she just doesn't ask, and I don't encourage it. I am happy that we, as a family, aren't as influenced by all the crudeness and advertising on TV, although I know my kids will see it eventually. I don't want to shelter them, but I'm not in a hurry to expose them to most of the shows that are on TV.
I have also heard from parents about the not so great things their kids have learned from, say, Sponge Bob. I'll probably wait until my daughter starts asking if she can watch a show or movie, and then just use good judgment on what I allow her to see. Most of the "kid-friendly" cartoons now aren't very kid-friendly and don't teach great manners and principles. Good for you for not making TV a big part of his life. There are a lot of benefits to doing that, like your child having more time to be active, and more time to use their own creativity instead of vegging in front of the TV. Childhood obesity is a huge problem, and TV is a big contributor to that problem. I would just say to use your motherly instincts to make the best decision for your family.
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R.W. answers from San Francisco on March 02, 2010
We have not had any tv/cable service for the past 5 years. We do only dvds that we choose for them.
A lot of what is on now is just junk, and much of TV is PG-13 it seems! Even the commercials are bad now...
Our kids see programs at their grandma's house and with friends, but we are happy that it is not enough to be a big influence on their lives.
K.D. answers from Salt Lake City on March 03, 2010
I grew up in a house where the TV was always on and so the TV itself doesn't bother me at all and I think the problems come from parents who use it as a babysitter and/or don't monitor what shows their children are watching. It wasn't until I had my second child that my oldest became interested in watching any shows - mostly because it was a show or two that only he got to watch while the baby was sleeping and I had things I needed to do without a little one under my feet. I limited it to age-appropriate shows (Sesame Street, etc) and it was usually DVD's or shows on Noggin (now, it's called Nick, Jr) which are commercial free. I think as long as they are watching shows that teach them things, not just "action on the screen" that a little TV time won't hurt them as they get older (I'm often surprised by the things my kids learn from shows like Dora and Little Einsteins). But if you choose to keep your house TV free, your 2-year old won't know the difference other than maintaining his ability to entertain himself and enjoy his family. He really won't know much about TV until he gets into school and his friends ask him about his favorite shows. As for movies, we have the same rule that the kids are only allowed to watch shows we feel are approriate for them and we do have family movies nights (we had one just last night) and it's great fun. Just do whatever you feel is best for your kids and you can't go wrong.