Last week we did an accidental experiment in our house. I should preface this by saying that my nine year-old is a busy, athletic kid who has some kind of activity at least five days per week. It is because he is an active kid that we typically let him decompress by watching television when time permits. I can totally appreciate that sometimes he just needs to chill out for a while. Giving my kids some time to unwind and relax is important to me as a way to balance their hectic schedules, and my children are way more likely to unravel when they do not get any down time.
However, last week we told him that he could not watch any television after school on Monday through Friday for an attitude he has shown us one night the week before. He would just have to find another way to relax when he got home from karate or soccer practice. The attitude actually had nothing to do with the television; it was just what we chose as a punishment.
I was fully expecting the whining to begin on Monday afternoon, but to my surprise it never did. In fact, he found plenty of other activities to keep him busy – and he was in a wonderful mood. There were no complaints when it was time for bed, or at any time for that matter. Could it be? To our complete shock, his happy demeanor remained for the entire week. It was the most enjoyable school week in our home in a very, very long time.
We have decided to limit television more moving forward. This brings me back to my original questions. Do you limit your children’s TV time? Is the television on as background noise in your house? Do you think there is a big difference in behaviors between school aged kids who watch a lot of TV and those who do not watch a lot of TV? I asked a few of my friends, and here are their responses:
Amy at Freaky Perfect said that, “We definitely limit it in our house, but we don’t have a set “x hours per week” type of rule. For us, it’s situational. If it’s a pretty day outside, there will be no TV, only outside play. We also have a “one screen at a time” rule. No playing DS while watching TV, for example. The TV gets turned off if anyone is too distracted by it. For example, if the boys are too busy watching TV to get ready for school, it’s immediately turned off. And TV is usually the first thing we take away when we have to ground someone.
Candice at Fashionably Organized added “We limit loosely. During a school day they can’t watch past 7 PM. Not much of a limit. I have to say though that I was helplessly addicted to TV as a child (still am) and I devoured books like no one else. I do not think that too much TV is the issue. I think the issue is what exactly they are watching.”
Kadi from Our Seven Seeds has this rule of thumb, “We usually don’t have time during the week between homework, sports and religious education. However, we do watch movies on the weekends. We limit video games to weekends only. I require every minute of tv to be matched with reading, educational games or outside time.”
Tina from Mad Hatter Mom said that, “We do limit our kids’ TV time. They get 30 minutes in the morning, usually while they are eating breakfast and then 30 minutes in the evening right before bedtime. In all honesty, I think each kid is completely different. My 6 year old daughter can watch several hours of TV and not have any problems. We keep our limits universal to keep things fair.”
Hillary from MyScraps: I let them watch almost whenever they want to…they are both active and love to play outside…so that doesn’t worry me…the quality of television shows and advertising shown DOES…
Rajean at Because I Said So believes that it is more about the program than the amount of time watching. “For us, it is not as much about quantity but quality. There is good quality TV programming and often it helps us get a discussion going. I feel strongly we should know what our kids are watching and make decisions about content and time in front of the screen.”
What about YOU? Do you limit television watching time in your home? Do you limit the shows your children are allowed to watch? Why or why not?