Limiting Television Watching--any Tips?

Updated on June 11, 2009
B.T. asks from Houston, TX
7 answers

Hi! I was wondering how you all limit the amount of television or computer time your children get per day? My kids are to the age now where they know how to work the DVR remote and will plop down in front of the t.v. at any moment--even if I just go in the other room to do a load of laundry or even go to the bathroom! I cannot monitor them every minute and we need some rules short of me confiscating the remote and carrying it with me everywhere. I need some simple solutions--keeping track, earning points/rewards, etc. has not worked for us in the past as I have too many distractions to be consistent--unless you have something along those lines that ie EASY. :-) BTW, they DO have plenty of other things they could do but t.v. is the easiest thing to cure the boredom blues in their opinion! TIA for your help!

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answers from Killeen on

My children and their company, are not allowed to watch tv or play on the computer until ALL chores are done. And usually I don't allow company in the house, so they have to play outside. There are certain programs that we watch as a family, however they are allowed to watch some programs when I'm on business calls, or getting ready to attend a business party. My children MUST ask permission to watch tv, play on the computer, or talk on the phone. If they opt to do what they want to without permission, I take EVERYTHING away from them! For the most part, I don't have problems with my kids. However, my daughter is getting to that age that I'm getting the attitude, so she tends to get things taken away more.

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answers from Houston on

our rule on weekdays is no tv or computer until 6pm, then they can watch whatever and for however long they want until bedtime, so it usually ends up being about 2 hours a day, weekends are more relaxed, we play it by ear.
hopefully once you sit the kids down and tell them the rule they will respect it.

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answers from Austin on

I never have much luck with reward systems either...they become too cumbersome to be consistent...really I think they are most effective if they have a closing date and are used to quickly change a behavior and then go away when better habits are built.

O.k. this is kids were always watching t.v. our home, then grandparents, then friends...pretty soon it was at least 3 hours a day. We made home a no t.v. zone and they started reading again. We talked to grandparents about limiting to one 30 min show and only allowed it at friends as long as we knew what it was and they asked permission. We got rid of our t.v., though now have one back and only watch specific shows as a family. We also limit Wii and computer use. They will have plenty of media use without constant t.v. bombardment.

Another idea is to get a little luggage lock that fits in the hole of the prong of the electrical cord, the plug won't fit in the outlet and it can be removed when you want it removed. This is a suggestion from a friend. My guys are no longer in the habit of turning it on at our home, since it was gone for so long.

One rule: never take away something without adding something new. Have a box of interesting books with something for everyone delivered to your home and it will be like Christmas again. Invest in art supplies. Go swimming. Read aloud to the kids while sipping lemonade on a summer afternoon. This age may enjoy Milly, Molly, Mandy or Winnie the Pooh. have good prices on books(the first are bundled by age groups the second source has 20% or so discounts, (awesome booklists can find at libraries etc.) Listen to Adventures in Odyssey on the radio or computer. (this can be addicting too, though :) I know you said you have lots of these is hard to get little guys interested in choosing them. Just try pulling them out and leaving on the table...or tell them its time to do a certain activity, if they aren't picking up the clue to use what you left out. Good luck!

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answers from Houston on

American Association of Pediatrics recommends 2 hours a day and that INCLUDES being on the computer, video games, nintendo's, etc.

Let them choose ahead of time how they will choose to spend those 2 hours. I know you don't have time but you have to set up something to follow. A simple daily chart where they check off when and where they will spend the 2 hours.

The kids can monitor each other as they love to tattle tale, right? When one is over their limit, I'm sure the other will let you know ;O) ha!

If they choose TV for part of that time, make them choose a specific show that day. If the kids will watch together, they will have to pick a show together (I know, I know).

I have a 3 year old and I know where you are coming am I supposed to take care of the house and get things done and entertain her? I've been guilty of putting on her favorite shows for over 2 hours a day easily.

Try to get them into puzzles, art/painting kits, maybe age appropriate model building toys....things that take a LOT of time to finish. My brother spent hours building model cars, etc. I used to do those "hook" rugs kits when I was a kid.

Have your daughter join the Texas Readers Club at the library. Keep a log on her reading for the summer. She'll get a little trophy at the end of the summer. Even if she' not an avid reader, there may be some book series she hasn't discovered yet.

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answers from Houston on

My daughter likes to watch TV when she wakes up since she's still pretty groggy usually and this helps wake her up slowly. She watches 2 shows (30 min each, but actually less since it's on the DVR and I FF through the stuff that isn't part of the actual program) in the morning and 1-2 shows after her naptime. That is all she is allowed to watch during the day. If we go out to play or something right after nap, she may get to watch one show in the evening, but if she doesn't bring it up, I don't offer it. I only turn on the TV when she asks. Some days, if we're busy, she just seems to forget about it, so she won't watch any. I would say she watches about an hour or so per day (the shows themselves are only about 20 minutes each) and they are usually on PBS or nick jr., so they are at least a little educational (although I don't buy the whole "preschool on TV" thing!). My daughter doesn't turn on the TV by herself, so I don't have that problem. If you make a rule that they can't watch without asking and enforce it by removing priveliges if they do, then you should be able to monitor it better. That is the only way I can think of to get them to only watch when you want them to. Good luck! I know it's hard.



answers from Houston on

Hi Brenda-

We have a schedule that we stick to each day (M-F, weekends are a bit of a free-for-all but we're usually so busy on the weekends that TV viewing doesn't come into play). The schedule is posted on our refrigerator so the kids (and I) know what they are supposed to be doing at any given time. There is designated "free time" for the kids which would include TV viewing, video gaming, or computer time if that's what they choose to do with the free time. When I made the schedule I took into account what time of day I needed them to be "independent" so that I could get things done and scheduled their activities appropriately. In the morning they do watch TV (or do other electronics) while I'm cleaning things up and getting ready to start the day. After that, the TV really doesn't come back on in our house until the evening when they might watch while I prepare dinner.

Even though your kids might have a lot of other things they could do, sometimes we all can use a schedule or list to help us decide what to do.

Good luck,



answers from Houston on

In my house, the children ask permission to watch television. It's not a right but a privilege, and no means no. I help them with the ideas of reading or playing with toys, but I leave it to them to use their imaginations around the house. Certain programs and a certain number of hours each day, and then it's off to something else.

If the television is turned on without your permission, it is reasonable for you to take the remote control and put it up where the kids can't reach or don't know where it is. At that point, the problem isn't with too much TV-watching but with disregard for the rules of the house.

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