Playdates and Tv

Updated on January 30, 2013
H.W. asks from Portland, OR
23 answers

This may be considered either a poll or a question, I'm not quite sure, but here goes...

This is out of curiosity-- how common is it for kids to watch tv/videos during playdates? When I was a kid (admittedly in the olden days) if you went to someone else house to play, you just played.

Lately, I've been kind of surprised how many times kids have come over and first thing--- they wanted to watch tv or asked to watch a movie. I usually help them get busy playing first; we find something both kids would like to do and go from there. We might have a short video on (like a Reading Rainbow dvd) while I'm prepping lunch, but I kind of feel that if a playdate is for just a couple hours, playing together is a better way to spend the time they have with each other. Longer playtimes and I'm more likely to offer a video if the kids are needing a break (esp. if I'm trading care with a family and we have the kid over for the entire afternoon).

For what it's worth, we usually don't have the tv on during the day. Kiddo is usually too busy with his own pursuits to ask for it, so right now he's averaging about an hour a week. Once again-- we aren't forcing a limit, he just doesn't ask.

SO- What's it like at your house? Commonplace for tv to be on during playdates or not?

And just to clarify--no, I didn't have 'formalized' playdates as a kid either; I think that development came from the fact that lots of moms work and the old 'hang out while the moms are hanging out' isn't as common these days, so now those times are less spontaneous and more scheduled.

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So What Happened?

Gamma G-- because my son is five, and in kindergarten, usually the 'playdates' are without both sets of parents. Not always, by the way, however, some of Kiddo's buddies have parents that work, and if I didn't call and offer to pick the kid up from school and bring them home with us, we really wouldn't have too much going on socially for him. One dear mom I really enjoy always stays, and I must admit, I do like her more for it, however, there are also a few situations where we adults have very little in common except our children's interest in playing with each other. Nothing personal, no dislike... and I'm very fine with having their child over while the parent goes shopping or to the gym or takes care of a younger sibling.

I already have a slew of my own friends (most, admittedly childless), so the playdates are really for Kiddo's social life, not mine!

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answers from St. Louis on

Seems normal for playdates which why we have never had playdates. My kids either play with the neighborhood kids, very much like when we were kids, or they invite friends over.

I have never been their social director.

Sometimes they play video games but I have never seen a friend come over to watch TV other than a sleepover.

5 moms found this helpful

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answers from Baton Rouge on

We didn't do "playdates" - that is, kids didn't get together at a prescheduled time. We just hung out at each other's houses. Our parents didn't facilitate out activities together - they told us to go find something to do. Sometimes that was playing in someone's room, sometimes playing outside, sometimes watching tv.

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answers from San Francisco on

My son and his friends played a lot of video games together but I don't think the TV was on much other than that when friends came over.
Now that they are teenagers however, I HAVE noticed they watch more TV with their friends. We record a lot of stuff on our DVR so they'll sit down and watch an episode of Glee or something like that.

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answers from Seattle on

I used to be like you :)

We didn't have cable, so it was movie during lunch, but the rest of the time was for actual "Please run around with my kid & wear him out!" Time. Mentally, physically, I care not! But thou shalt be active!!!

I didn't change out of some kind of ideology switch. My son just got older. I think this is the guy version to when girls stop playing and start talking. And talking. And TALKING.

Now that he's 10?

I have been informed 'play dates' are dead (lol), and I am ONLY to use the term 'hang out' (at pain of my son dying of embarrassment on the spot. Teehee. Anyhow...

At 10 90% of his hangouts are focused on something electronic. xBox. Minecraft. Kinnect. Video recording or editing. Movie n pizza.

I think PART of it has to do with the fact that the kids are all exhausted between school/homework/sports. They are LITERALLY heading over to a friends for DOWN time. The other part, is that the kids are coming up with things to do themselves instead of me cruise-directing.

The other 10%? Basketball, bikes, snowboarding, swimming, sailing. These are the ones that still require parental supervision. They also require good weather and a DAYTIME (instead of evening) timeslot.

If we lived somewhere with nicer weather I would think there'd be more of this type (from times we've been elsewhere, like above the snow line, or in SoCal, etc)... But it rains here 300 days a year, and in the winter is dark by the time school lets out.

Not a lotta fun playing in the rainy dark. Which means inside. Which is limiting. KWIM?

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answers from Seattle on

Nope not common - unless you SPECIFICALLY have a movie playdate with popcorn and the works.
I would also add that sometimes we have playdates that more more "babysitting" where I have a friend of my DD over for an entire day to help out her mom - on those days I will usually allow them an hour of TV in the afternoon when they need a rest from playing...
But your run of the mill 2-3 hours in the afternoon playdate - no TV here.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Phoenix on

No TV when friends come over to our house. They are outside in the pool or playing in the front yard on bikes, scooters, rollerblades or just hanging out. On occasion, if we have a new wii game, I will let them play for SOME of the time they are over, but not the whole time. HOWEVER, when my son goes to his friends house, he's told to bring his DS sometimes and they just sit there on those. But hey, whatever goes in your house and he's having fun with his friend so fine by me. But he won't be on it when he comes home.

Yesterday was 1/2 day at school and we all went to the park. My 16 yo (spec needs) and 13 yo dts spent the whole time on the swings and my 10 yo son played with all the other kids that were there. They had bikes, scooters and footballs and they mostly ended up digging huge holes in the sand in the playground.

So I try not to stress about it if they sit at a friends and watch tv or play computer games. That's what THAT family likes to do. I just know to try to adjust it when they come home so they don't get even more time on the tv or computer than they already had.

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answers from Austin on

No tv during play dates.. They played the whole time...inside, outside...

I remember one time it rained.. I let them play outside with umbrellas..rain here is celebrated...
Then I let them build tents with every sheet we owned. I even served them lunch in their "Camp"...

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answers from Santa Fe on

We have the rule - no screen time when friends come over to play.

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answers from Seattle on

No TV during playdates for the most part. On occassion, when I am watching a friends child for "longer" than the normal playdate time - like all day - We might take a 30 min break and watch one show. There comes a point, when you have had them all day, that they need to chill out for a bit. I usually try books first, then maybe if that isn't working, a show.

But if you are taking a typical 2 to 3 hour play date, then probably no.

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answers from Salinas on

When mine were that age we had a neighbor girls over all time and never any TV unless maybe if they slept over. I have encountered what you're talking about but it's always been with a kids we don't know well and those friendships never stuck. They just didn't click so the TV became a "buffer".

I've found in homes where the TV is rarely on very young kids just forget about it. We had an armoire in the LR and honestly it was out of sight out of mind. There are so many more interesting things to do when your best buds are over.

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answers from New York on

I don't like TV during playdates but it seems like the kids ALWAYS ask. My current policy is if the playdate is 2 hours or less, no TV. If it's more than 2 hours, I allow them one 1/2 hour show of their choice while they have either lunch or a snack, kind of a downtime thing. I will admit, when I've found a playdate going south, I have occasionally resorted to TV, just to calm things down - but usually when the weather is poor outside. Personally I think a playdate should be for playing, not watching TV.

When I was growing up, before there was such a thing as a "playdate", I would occasionally watch TV at friends' houses. I don't think it's the end of the world, but playdates should really be about letting kids learn to socialize and invent their own play.

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answers from New York on

no tv during playdates. even kids don't have any interest to watch tv when they have friends over. also, i don't limit tv. i don't have a schedule for that. my kids play with each other, draw, read books, watch tv.

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answers from Wausau on

Thinking back to when I was little, I don't remember watching much tv at all. Saturday morning cartoons and holiday specials. Inspector Gadget at a cousin's house.

I do remember Atari. I would spend the night at a friend's house and her mom would let us stay up as late as we wanted playing PacMan. I also remember that the friend and I shared a love of Mad Libs and Jackson 5 vinyl records. :-D

When my kid's friends come over now, they are usually playing video games together. That is typical for the preteen-teen age group today. When hey were little, they played with toys, board games or outdoors. Only rarely watching a tv show or movie (via Netflix, we don't have a cable package). Usually if poor weather or they were staying overnight.

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answers from San Francisco on

I don't allow any electronics during a play date. Neither do any of the moms of kids we have play dates with. The point is for the kids to play with each other and to get some energy out.

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answers from Washington DC on

We usually do not turn on the TV during a playdate. If I am babysitting (vs a playdate that may only be an hour or two), then I might allow the kids a show, especially if the weather is bad and they are getting on each other's case and I can't just send the playmate home. I have found in reverse that if the TV is on, the children stop playing. There's one family where they (thankfully) stopped honoring their DD's requests for TV because she would totally ignore my child and what's the point of driving to their home (they are not nearby) if the kids won't play?

Now, for older kids that entertain themselves, they might watch some TV, play video games, or do whatever, and I didn't monitor that so much. They were choosing to share the entertainment vs ignoring one another.

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answers from Syracuse on

My son is only 4 so yes, we do have scheduled play dates sometimes. The TV is never on for a 2-3 hour playdate, the kids never even ask for it because they're busy playing. I wouldn't let them watch it anyways. He did recently go to another child's house for a playdate without me, the mom let them play video games and watch son got bored because that was all this other kid wanted to do, at age 4. He doesn't go to play dates at that house anymore because he doesn't want to.

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answers from Grand Forks on

We usually let the guest choose the activity. When they were little they didn't often choose to watch tv, they wanted to play with the toys. Now that they are older they often like to watch a movie, especially when they are having a sleep over. Of course at 7 and 10 my kids aren't really having "playdates" anymore. The boys did have friends over to watch the hockey game last weekend.
When I was a kid we watched tv when there was kid stuff on tv. There was only kids stuff on tv Saturday mornings, for an hour after school and at lunch hour during the week. If we happened to have friends over at any of those times then we did watch tv. Since we now have 24 hour access to kid tv they don't really need to watch tv together...

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answers from Washington DC on

tv was a bit less ubiquitous in the 90s when my boys were small (not much, but some), but it was a pretty small part of playdates. sometimes if the weather was bad and they were tired from doing other stuff we'd turn on the tv. and sleepovers usually involved a movie. but not the whole time.

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answers from Chicago on

the kids I nanny for are allowed 1/2 hour a day of screen time. that covers tv/video game/computer/handheld games 1/2 hour total. so if a friend comes over and they want to play for instance skylanders is the big game right now. I say sure and they get a half hour then off to play something else. but nope I don't think plopping in front of the tv during a playdate is the most fun thing they could do. send them to the lego bin or the toy box lol

I do not set up big things for them to do either. they are there to play not do art projects etc. They just play. if there mom or dad want them to do big projects during the playdate they can schedule them during their time lol

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answers from Detroit on

No TV during play dates. I was at one once where I was not allowed to even color, lo. The mom said, you guys are here to play.

We do have to struggle to limit tv to 2 hours a day. The 3-year-old would watch all day. It's a battle I hate. Imagine being asked all day about the TV. Hence, we do full-day preschool daily, so the 2 hours can come later in the day, and then it's dinner time. So, it sort of works out.

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answers from Oklahoma City on

Where are their parents? Don't they watch their own kids? Our playdates are where the group of us get together and our kids play. We don't just drop the kids off for free babysitting somewhere.

Those kids may not be allowed to watch TV at home so they want to do that at your house. I'd say your house your rules, no TV means no TV.

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answers from Cleveland on

No one ever asks to watch TV at our house (and funny thing is I did watch at friends' houses when I was a kid) but I can't stand when I find out my kids watched TV at a friend's house... They can do that at home! I agree a playdate is to play. The kids don't seem bored at our house so why do other parents turn on the tv? Bugs me and I've told the girls that if it's during the day and right in our neighborhood, just invite the other child to our house or leave. I don't want them watching tv in the middle of the day. And not like I don't host a disproportionate number of playdates... Kids are always at our house so the few times they're at a friends, the parents can help find them a game for 2 min if they get bored.

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answers from Tampa on

I hear yah. I don't host playdates but realize I better start doing it so they do have a social life because no one is calling us (most likely because other parents work full time). When I did host a playdate once or twice, the kids did the Wii the whole hour. The mom and I sat in the living room and talked. I wasn't thrilled that this all the kids wanted to do. I am not sure I would be comfortable with kids watching tv the entire time either.

I am about moderation. If they played for a while and then wanted the Wii or tv then I would be fine with it. My older son (11) has neighborhood friends over quite a bit. I don't let them inside much because all they want to do is the video games, which they can do at home. If I do let them in, I only let them in for an hour and then for my own sanity or because dinner is ready, I tell them back outside. The weather is always nice here. Today it's 80 degrees, so that's why I want them outside. Everyday is summer here.

Hope this helps.

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