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Television: What do you think?

post #1 of 54
Thread Starter 

I have a 3 month old daughter and a tv. Dh and I are trying to figure out how much or how little we should let her watch as she gets older. I didn't watch much tv growing up, but I do now and I enjoy it. We typically watch primetime shows and I'll have it on sometimes in the afternoons while I am doing other things. 

 

We know we will not use the tv as a babysitter and we will actively encourage exploration and play indoors and outdoors, so what harm could tv do? On the other hand, maybe it is better to not let her watch any at all?

 

What are your opinions about television? 

post #2 of 54

I am against 22mo DS watching TV but not against adult shows occasionally being on in the background -- and by that I mean, if necessary due to DS going to bed late etc., the adults in our house may watch an hour or so of TV in the evening while DS plays. Nothing violent etc. -- mostly cooking/DIY type shows if we can get them to come in (we don't have cable). I do feel by it sometimes being on in the background, it prevents the TV from becoming this great big exciting mystery -- so when we are visiting others, he pays no attention to their TV either. In a perfect world, though, (one where DS went to bed before midnight!) my family would be entirely TV-free!! I also know there are studies that have shown TV in the background to interfere with children's play, so we really really do try to minimize even that as much as possible.

 

I don't feel it's appropriate for my DS to watch shows because I feel that he needs to spend his time doing other things like running and playing etc. that are essential to his development. I also hear of lots of TV-related tantrums -- i.e. you let them watch one show a day or something & then they start asking for it constantly, all day long -- and I'd rather just avoid that altogether. I also don't feel that kid's programming content is appropriate for my DS -- too much violence, moral lessons I don't agree with, mass marketing to kids, etc. Plus I hate that glazed-over zombie look most kids get when sitting in front of the TV. It just doesn't seem healthy to me. 

 

I take things day by day & reserve the right to change my mind at any time. :) I suppose there could be some situation in the future that might lead me to re-evaluate our decisions, but for now & the foreseeable future, he will not watch TV,

post #3 of 54

 

Television is an entertainment device and an information resource. It all depends on how you use it. For our family, it's been fine because we have developed a thoughtful attitude to watching it.  We aren't a household that has the television turned on in the background all day long. I admit there is sometimes a little mindless viewing that may go on when we are relaxing at the end of a busy day. 

 

As far as the entertainment value of t.v., I think storytelling in film in an art form, just like storytelling in writing. We enjoy watching and critiquing shows and movies on t.v. My kids are both teens with a passion for the arts. They both have an interest in film and DS has lately been talking about studying media arts in university. He's taken a film course in high school, and has probably learned as much in that class as he has in his English literature classes. Not only has he learned about basic literary techniques (plot, character, metaphors, allegories etc.), he's also studied use of cinematography (camera angles, special effects etc.) and musical scores to contribute, support and extend the story. 

 

In a similar fashion, my kids have become very critical observers of advertising techniques. They don't mindlessly absorb television commercials. They often have fun re-creating absurd versions of the advertising they see. I think that allowing them to watch commercials and encouraging them to de-construct and analyze them has reduced the power of advertising in general in their lives. 

 

There is a lot of mediocre storytelling available. Although I encourage my kids to limit their viewing, I don't insist on a rigid ban on this kind of television. I consider it a little like reading mediocre books. There are a lot of bad kids' books out there. But I don't expect my kids to read Greek tragedies and Shakespeare all the time, likewise, I don't expect them to watch only highbrow art films, although they often do.

 

They also watch a lot of informational/educational television. DD's favourite channels are Animal Planet and Discovery. We also like to watch international shows and films, because we find it's fun to learn about different lifestyles that way, rather than in a dry documentary travelogue style show. 

 

At age 3 months, it's easy to restrict television now. At this age, I don't think television has anything to offer to her, so I wouldn't sit her in front of it for her own viewing pleasure. As she gets older and starts visiting friends in their homes, it will be harder to control. I think it's a good idea to develop a mindful approach and decide how much and what kind of television you are comfortable with. When it is time for her to make her own decisions about her television viewing habits, you will have helped her develop useful tools and a good attitude about it.  

post #4 of 54

I only use television as a babysitter.  I don't think that it has any educational merit until a child is at least 3, and just serves to keep them entranced and to sell them things.  That said, sometimes I need them entranced!  I have 3 kids all close together, and sometimes I need to keep the older 2 quiet and happy while I tend to the baby (and when #2 was born I also used television as a babysitter for #1).

 

I've read a lot about the impact of media and television on children, and most of the adverse affects you hear about are unlikely to make much of an impact when television is only used in moderation (ie not on as background noise all day) and when parents play with and talk to their toddlers.  I don't think that television is harmful for kids, but I do think that usually kids have something better they could be doing.  I also think that it's very stimulating, and inappropriate as downtime.  I'm also very concerned about marketing to children and my kids NEVER watch any children's television aimed at their ages.  Sometimes we watch PBS in the late afternoon because I love Ruff Ruffman :)

 

So my vote is for TV as babysitter.  thumb.gif  We don't have a set TV mission statement, except that less is more.  We'll go  months without turning on the television, and then have a week where everyone's sick, the weather's bad, I'm 9 months pregnant and too exhausted to move, the newborn and the two toddlers hit their fussy periods at the exact same moment and I need to tend to the newborn and keep the older two from literally killing eachother ("We do NOT sit on eachother's heads!" is one of those things you don't expect to be saying).  And then the TV is on 6 hours a day for a week running.

post #5 of 54

We try to limit the amount the kids watch. It has gotten a little more difficult now that my older ds is old enough to turn it on. Although having it in a cabinet with the doors shut helps to keep ds from thinking about t.v. Now that ds1 is at school during the days I'm able to limit it more for ds2, who seems more entranced by it then ds1 was as a baby. Although I will admit to using it as a babysitter for ds2 (13 months) during the day for 30-45 min because I keep other children for childcare and I need him occupied while I put them down for naps. ( He has become pretty clingy lately and will cry when he sees me take the baby upstairs and two crying babies will not allow either of them to fall asleep.

 

I think it was easier to limit tv with my first. The hardest part of limiting it for ds1 as a baby was for myself. I had a hard time being home initially and struggled with the isolation and a little PPD and used the t.v as background noise for part of the day, usually PBS shows in the morning. Fortunately ds wasn't too interested in tv at that point.

 

Now we typically only watch PBS or videos like Wiggles, Thomas Train, etc.  I'm not a fan of most Disney movies or commercial content of other tv. But fortunately our reception only brings in PBS anyway.

post #6 of 54

I love tv, in moderation.  And I think it's really dependent on your kids and your family...but for us, tv isn't an issue.  DD might watch 2 hours per day, which is Superwhy and Dinosaur train in the morning (that's pretty routine) and then I let her watch again around 5 while I'm getting dinner ready (that is about 50/50 because sometimes she helps me or is busy playing something else).  Sometimes we all just need to "veg" a bit and tv is great for that.  We're an active family, we do a lot of things, so I don't mind if she watches a few shows here and there. 

 

Some kids seem addicted to it.  Some parents rely on tv really heavily.  Sometimes kids are sick or you are sick and you'll find yourself watching too much!  I just try to stay aware of how much we're all watching.

post #7 of 54

I'm an "all things in moderation" kind of person for TV as well. I tried very hard not to have TV for kids under 2. We didn't quite succeed with dd, as her older brother was watching and by the time she was 18 months, it was hard to keep her away. But he only watched 30 minutes or so a day.

 

I have two TV recommendations. The first is to NOT have the TV on unless you're actively watching it. Actually put it in another room so that you have to go there to watch it. TV should not be background noise. Kids don't play as creatively with a TV on.

 

The second is to get a DVR if you can afford it. The DVR  has really changed how we watch TV. We don't have to wait for shows to come on. We don't have to be tied to a specific time. We just watch what we want when we want. It also makes it possible to avoid commercials. My kids don't  understand channel surfing because they find the program they want on the DVR, they watch it and then they're done. It really helps us keep a sane limit on TV shows.

 

post #8 of 54

We have recently talked about shutting off all of the cable. I'm all for it but DH is balking even though he rarely watches it! The reaction of my oldest daughter, "Does that mean we won't have Animal Planet?? I think I'm going to die!" LOL

 

My kids do watch some cartoons but they like Animal Planet and the History Channel also. I don't let them watch tween shows like Hannah Montana or iCarly. I think TV can be okay, especially if you are a visual learner (I am, I can read something 5 times and still be confused but see it once and know how to do it.)

 

I will say that it does irk me when all a kid or adult can talk about is what was on TV the night before!

post #9 of 54

MY son is too young for TV (he's 11 months), and we don't even have a TV right now. But after age 2, we probably will limit what he can watch to less than an hour a day. And we would probably time when he can watch for optimum effect for mommy and daddy (some focused time to accomplish things like writing) and we will def. monoitor what he watches too. It needs to have some redemming value and not be riddled with violence, even cartoon violence.

post #10 of 54

We got rid of cable when DD was born, but we've recently got a Netflix subscription and their streaming service has been invaluable and a good replacement for a DVR.  They have lots of fun little movies and shows that my kids really enjoy.

post #11 of 54
With our first, we didn't let her watch any children's TV until she was 2. She did see adult programs on now and then. We continue to be careful of what she sees now at age 4, and I tend to prescreen shows that she hasn't watched before. We have a handful of favorite shows, including Sesame Street & some reading-focused PBS shows, and don't feel the need to stray too far from that. She's only seen a couple of (carefully selected) movies. We feel comfortable with that. And yes, I do sometimes use the TV as a babysitter, because otherwise I would never get dinner made some days! If there were another activity that kept them all getting along and not making messes long enough for me to cook, I'd do it, but "everything in moderation" so I'm ok with the babysitting now and then. As for commericals, that is a big deal to us, so we have a DVR and skip through all commercials. Even my toddlers will alert me when they need me to come skip forward, they yell, " 'mercial" and bring me the remote. smile.gif

Two concerns about TV: if it's on in the background while you're talking to a baby, it can be difficult for them to distinguish the sounds you're making. For language development, it is better to turn it off when you're interacting with the baby.

The other thing is that kids can learn to "check out" by watching TV when they're upset. It numbs you by providing escape, so it's just good to be aware of your patterns of when and why you're turning the TV on. If a parent puts the TV on when a child is upset, they learn to turn to something outside themselves to calm down, instead of learning to handle their own emotions.
post #12 of 54

I grew up with pretty severe TV limitations. I was allowed to watch one show a week. It is funny because I don't "get" a lot of the TV references my friends and hubby make.

 

We are an avid football family so my son does see a fair amount of football. But, currently at 2 1/2 he pays only scant attention to football. We do not do Disney or cartoons because to me most of them seem to exist only to sell stuff to my kid.

 

We have broken out some You Tube stuff to allow him to watch butterfly videos (he knows more about them than I do) and I have introduced him to a few Schoolhouse Rock videos.

 

And like LynnS6 said-a DVR has been awesome. We never watch shows when they are actually on. The only commercials I see now are on Sundays.

post #13 of 54
We don't have a TV and have no plans to buy one. We do have a Netflix subscription, good internet service, and a digital projector. We didn't let DS watch anything at all until he was nearly two, and then we started letting him watch a few episodes of "Signing Time!" and David Attenborough's various nature documentaries here and there. Now that I have a newborn and a toddler, I will admit to letting him watch Wallace and Gromit and The Snowman more than I'd like. bag.gif

Since DH works in the film industry and we're total cinephiles, I expect that our children will grow up with a healthy appreciation for filmmaking as an art form. BUT, conversely, DH's experience working in that industry has made us very, very conscious of the massive marketing schemes that go into motion pictures and TV, especially in children's programming, and how saturated even ostensibly "artistic" films are with subtle and not-so-subtle advertising and propaganda. So we're extremely selective about what we watch and have a huge list of "no way" movies, shows, and franchises that we won't allow our children to see. DH and I do watch films after the little ones are asleep, but staring at a screen simply isn't a family activity for us and we hope to keep it that way until the kids are quite a bit older.

 

post #14 of 54

We love TV, and it's been really fun. I think parental involvement is the key. Kids often have a hard time distinguishing advertisements from programming, so it can be vital to have parents involved there as well as with plots, characters, values in the art, etc. You still have time to feel it out. :)

post #15 of 54
Although we don't have a TV and see no need for one, I'm also in the "moderation in all things" camp. I would caution against having the TV on while you're doing other things. It directly contradicts your goal of encouraging exploration and play. TV is so attractive to kids that what you consider "background" may very easily become the main attraction.
post #16 of 54

I have no problem with television, and I don't actively limit it.  It can babysit my kids anytime I need a break.  Around here, tv is for resting, and unwinding after school for a while, or in the mornings when they are waking up.  If a child is sick at all, I have no issues  leaving it on the entire day.  Eventually, the computer, video games and cell phones become a bigger problem than the tv.  

 

When I was growing up, we had our morning shows before/after school, or on Saturdays, but the rest of our day was taken up playing outside.  We watched the Ray Raynor show before school while we ate our breakfast (and hoped he'd say our school was closed for snow days)  We came home and watched Gilligan's island then went to play.

 

These days though, kids stay inside most of the day.  There are always kid's shows on all day.  It's almost sad how much tv is available for kids now.  It's even sadder that kids don't just automatically go outside to play.  We could go outside and stand on a corner, and eventually 20 kids would show up, then we'd decide what to play.  (those days are gone forever.. I'm just feeling nostalgic)  *I'm in no way suggesting you should send kids to stand on a corner.

post #17 of 54


Please tell me how you have taught this....and where you might start.  Mine are 6 and almost 4, the 6 year old was pretty bad about begging for junk till I started taking away the one show he likes on a "commercial channel"--Spongebob.

Quote:
Originally Posted by ollyoxenfree View Post

 


 

In a similar fashion, my kids have become very critical observers of advertising techniques. They don't mindlessly absorb television commercials. They often have fun re-creating absurd versions of the advertising they see. I think that allowing them to watch commercials and encouraging them to de-construct and analyze them has reduced the power of advertising in general in their lives. 

 

post #18 of 54


I also LOVE my DVR and I'll never again be without one.  Even if my mom didn't live here--she's the main reason we keep cable--I would still want and have it.  Mainly because I can record shows and watch them after the kids are in bed!  (and I admit the 6 yr old is much easier to get to bed when he's seen something is going to be on at/after his bedtime when I can record it!)

Quote:
Originally Posted by LynnS6 View Post

I'm an "all things in moderation" kind of person for TV as well. I tried very hard not to have TV for kids under 2. We didn't quite succeed with dd, as her older brother was watching and by the time she was 18 months, it was hard to keep her away. But he only watched 30 minutes or so a day.

 

I have two TV recommendations. The first is to NOT have the TV on unless you're actively watching it. Actually put it in another room so that you have to go there to watch it. TV should not be background noise. Kids don't play as creatively with a TV on.

 

The second is to get a DVR if you can afford it. The DVR  has really changed how we watch TV. We don't have to wait for shows to come on. We don't have to be tied to a specific time. We just watch what we want when we want. It also makes it possible to avoid commercials. My kids don't  understand channel surfing because they find the program they want on the DVR, they watch it and then they're done. It really helps us keep a sane limit on TV shows.

 

post #19 of 54

 

Quote:
In a similar fashion, my kids have become very critical observers of advertising techniques. They don't mindlessly absorb television commercials. They often have fun re-creating absurd versions of the advertising they see. I think that allowing them to watch commercials and encouraging them to de-construct and analyze them has reduced the power of advertising in general in their lives.

I totally agree, and I have seen much the same with my own kids. I always mentioned the tricks of advertising to them. ie: better lighting over the "good/better" product, talking ridiculously loud to get your attention (my kids called this the "im yelling for no reason so it must be really cool!" trick), and etc. We talked about what products actually do, what they are made of, why people want them (ie, they have real meaning and value in some way or because everyone says it's awesome?), is it worth the price, and etc. The acting alone in some commercials is funny enough to watch and then make fun of. ;)

post #20 of 54
Quote:
Originally Posted by peaceful_mama View Post


Please tell me how you have taught this....and where you might start.  Mine are 6 and almost 4, the 6 year old was pretty bad about begging for junk till I started taking away the one show he likes on a "commercial channel"--Spongebob.

Quote:
Originally Posted by ollyoxenfree View Post

 


 

In a similar fashion, my kids have become very critical observers of advertising techniques. They don't mindlessly absorb television commercials. They often have fun re-creating absurd versions of the advertising they see. I think that allowing them to watch commercials and encouraging them to de-construct and analyze them has reduced the power of advertising in general in their lives. 

 


I don't have an answer for you, but there's an excellent book called Buy Buy Baby, by Susan Gregory Thomas, that really changed the way I look at... well, just about everything directed at children!  It's really eye-opening.  I definitely recommend reading it so that YOU understand all the marketing being aimed at you.  I consider myself a very savvy, educated consumer and extremely cynical, but this book offered a lot of incredibly fascinating information.

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