unschooling + tv - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 11 Old 09-20-2010, 03:04 PM - Thread Starter
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Okay so i'm not really a unschooler more of a non pushy waldorf HSing mom with unschooling tendencies but I have a question about tv.

so we don't have tv so it's just movies from the libery so there is defintly some quality control and although i feel less bad about my kids watching say... between the lions or something my kids would be totally happy to watch tv all day long.....

they are smart and do play but they do watch a lot of tv if they are given the choice. So for you unschoolers..... do you limit TV? do you just remove the TV? is TV/movies unlimited with your younger unschoolers? Di you just not worry about it as long as the shows have some sort of obvious worth?

How do you unschool with a TV in the house?!

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#2 of 11 Old 09-20-2010, 05:02 PM
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I'll bite, even though I'm somewhere in-between unschooler and relaxed homeschooler.

We do not limit screen time except for a 5-6 hour period each day (weekends and when I or DD is sick are excepted). Parenting-wise, we are pretty heavily RU.

We do not own a TV. We were given one as a gift about 7 years ago and it sat around getting dusty for years before we gave it away. No one in our family really likes TV, but DH and DD sometimes watch videos.

DD (age 6) is allowed to watch whatever videos she likes (within reason, nothing really gory, extremely violent or sexual) on Netflix instant watch, Hulu.com, Youtube.com, etc. Every now and then she decides she would like to watch a certain TV series on Hulu.com and she watches a fair bit of Youtube videos (maybe 1/2 hour a day). When she does find a series of videos she wants to watch, sometimes she will sit and watch them for several hours a day until she's seen all of the episodes. That happens once or twice a year.

For our family, video or TV watching is not a big deal. None of us find the video format especially stimulating and prefer more interactive entertainment (video games and reading, for example).

Right now -- because of a temporary situation -- DD plays a particular online video game for several hours most days. I don't mind, because it is currently her only way to socialize with other children on a regular basis, and because she went from slowly sounding out 3-letter words to reading fluently at a 2nd to 3rd grade level by playing this game heavily over the summer. She really got into reading out of a desire to chat with the other kids and now she consumes books like crazy.

Other than that, we watch the occasional movie or documentary. We're pretty lenient about what she can watch but in general she chooses age-appropriate video, or close enough... in other words, she doesn't want to watch R-rated movies but we're okay with The Simpsons or Futurama.


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#3 of 11 Old 09-20-2010, 10:24 PM
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I never limited but I don't have the kind of kid who gets sucked into tv, either. He likes it on as background noise, a coping mechanism for one of his minor sensory issues. So it's on a lot (dvds, we no longer get reception but it used to be on PBS during the day and he'd watch the Simpsons in the evening and Saturday morning cartoons).

There are some things I'd try if I got concerned about ds watching to the exclusion of other activities. I might have a limited number of dvds that dc could watch as often as they liked. I do think kids get something out of watching the same thing over and over. I might not be sure exactly what, but there is such an attraction in young children toward repetition that I'm confident it's something valuable. So I wouldn't be bringing novel things to watch into the house daily. I'd also consider putting the tv in a place in the house where it wasn't "looking at us" all day, somewhere out of the way or where we'd have to make a conscious decision to watch.

I've found ds does a good job of self regulating content. I'll read a review if we aren't sure of something and he'll decide he doesn't want to watch it if it's scary or has something he might find upsetting (he's pretty sensitive to animal cruelty and some other things). He'll skip over parts of movies he doesn't like. I'll sit with him if he is watching something border line to his comfort level. I used to sit with him all the time (Sesame St can be pretty freaky, lol). He didn't like tv at all (except to operate it, turning it on and off) until he was 3.

I think it's tricky with multiple kids because they influence each other. One dc might end up watching tv just because the other one is, not from a personal desire. My particular child was always happy to leave the tv to do something interesting or to go someplace. He prefers more interactive things (people and computers) to the tv. He is the kind of kid that will do something new (or eat something new) a whole lot for a number of days, then taper off. He'll eat a ton of ice cream the first day or two, then the rest will linger in the freezer for months. He might play a new video game almost nonstop for a week. Then, he'll just play it occasionally after that. So, the no limits thing works well for us. It avoids power struggles which is an important thing with his temperament. But kids are different. Some need more help following their bodies cues (ds used to need help realizing he was hungry but he was better with other things).

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#4 of 11 Old 09-20-2010, 11:05 PM
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We don't have TV, but we do have DVD players, AppleTV (access online movie rentals, watch YouTube, video podcasts...), and several computers. There is no limit on screen time in our family. There is lots of time in our day, seven days a week, so a child being on the computer or watching movies for 3 hours is not really an issue. They get plenty of other types of play worked in there. Actually, neither of my kids can sit in front of a movie for more than about the standard length without getting squirrely and moving on to something else. DS loves playing computer games and will do so for long periods of time, but also loves imaginative play, Lego, and other things. If I felt my child had an addiction issue I might step in, but I'm not convinced that such things are addictive (by the standards I've seen described, my daughter is "addicted" to reading books...) and anyways it hasn't been an issue for us.

Oh, I don't have TV because I hate the commercialism, and most of the shows are just junk. The good ones we can get online or through AppleTV, and without commercials!

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#5 of 11 Old 09-21-2010, 02:21 AM
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We don't watch TV. We do allow dvd documentaries, youtube, and I've just introduced www.starfall.com for phonics. I try to limit to an hour a day though sometimes he creaks it up to 2 hours a day. I think play is just too important to allow more screen time than that.

I grew up in a house with unlimited TV and unlimited junk food. I feel my childhood was wasted in front of the TV and I don't want that to happen to my kids. I still have terrible problems with eating junk food. So we don't deny all screens or sweets, but we do set what we think are healthy limits.

Created an instant family (7/89 and 5/91) in 1997. Made a baby boy 12/05 adopted a baby girl 8/08. Ask me about tandem adoptive nursing and living as gluten, dairy, and cane sugar free vegetarians. Homeschooling and loving it.
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#6 of 11 Old 09-21-2010, 11:16 AM
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I think that unschooling is about following your children's interests and giving them opportunities to discover new things and I believe tv helps with that.

We do not have limits on tv/screen time- sometimes they seem to watch it a lot and other times they don't care either way.

Joyfully- Laura
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#7 of 11 Old 09-21-2010, 11:25 AM
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We have a TV, we do not have cable or access to any channels but the TV is hooked up to a computer and they can watch movies/videos, surf the net, play games, use the webcam etc... we see the TV as a useful tool...

We don't have limits... there are days the TV is on a lot, there are day that it doesn't come on at all...

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#8 of 11 Old 09-22-2010, 12:44 AM
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Not RU here, but we do unschool by most folks' definition. We do not have TV reception, but do have dvd's, Netflix streaming, Netflix delivery, a Wii, and a computer. We (the 3 kids and I) mututally agreed to limit "fluff" scree-time. Nonfiction and literature-based screen time is unlimited, and they each get an hour or less (on average) of fluff screen time per day.
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#9 of 11 Old 09-22-2010, 09:01 PM
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Originally Posted by onyxravnos View Post
you just not worry about it as long as the shows have some sort of obvious worth?

How do you unschool with a TV in the house?!
um, we just... do?! the presence or absence of a tv isn't really related to unschooling. the important point, from the standpoint of unschooling philosophy, is that *I* do not decide for anyone else in the house what has worth, or what they should be doing with their time, or what constitutes learning, or that learning X is valuable while learning Y is not. it's all about trust, trust, and more TRUST! we do not have any arbitrary limits. we take each event, whether tv or dvd or game or going outside or painting or building with legos, on a case-by-case basis. what does dc want to do? does it conflict with anyone else's needs in the house right now? is everything set up for the activity of interest? will dc need help? am I available to give that help now? if it's all "go" then it's go. if not (ex, more than one person wants to use the tv with channels at the same time, or we need to make an appt, or dc needs facilitation while I need to prep food or wash dipes or have downtime!) then we talk our way through and try to get to a satisfactory alternative. sometimes this works, sometimes it has to get "top-down"ish and I have to make an executive decision. mostly it works pretty well...

ack, gtg, sorry this is kinda cut off!

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#10 of 11 Old 09-22-2010, 09:52 PM
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meant to also mention that with no limits they don't watch nearly as long as you might think they would either. mine LOVE their screen time, but upon closer inspection it is frequently background noise while they do other things. we do discuss it when for ex my oldest thinks he wants to watch something that I know from experience is beyond his current limits. he trusts my judgment and that I respect his interests, so when I explain that I truly think watching a certain movie will bother him he knows I never BS him about stuff like that so he takes my word for it. (and this is a kid who will argue with a fence post! )

also wanted to take more time editing to make sure I didn't sound like I have any answers for anyone else, or god forbid unschoolier-than-thou, which I probably did sound like but I promise I don't feel that way at all I was getting straight to the point and then got interrupted, and figured I'd never get back to my post if I didn't go ahead with it, so apologies if my previous was too much in any obnoxious way

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#11 of 11 Old 09-24-2010, 04:59 PM
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I have just decided to go forth with a screen time limit. My kids age 7 and 4.5 if I let them will watch it for hours...and when it's turned of or they leave the room or wake up from there fog they are cranky, irritable and moody. There brains are mush. It's not a good thing. My oldest turns it on when he's bored, My youngest is prone to watching when she is tired, and since she is fighting the naps that's often but again she would just sit in front of it for ever...not falling asleep which I wish actually she would just pass out then still be tired when it go turned off. It's now limited to evenings with daddy watching sports and Sat mornings for some cartoons and Sundays for sports. This is our first week of this schedule so we'll see how it goes but so far they have asked a million times to turn the tv on daily!! It's like they've forgotten how to just play?! Which really makes me sad and I don't want that, so we really do need some limits...
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