Join Date: Aug 2005
Location: Montreal, Canada
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We used to live very close to the grandparents. The kids watched quite a lot of TV when they were there. As a result, the kids watched basically no TV or DVDs at home. The sum total of the amount they got at the grandparents plus none at home worked out to a volume I could live with.
Now we live on the other side of the continent, and the kids do get a couple hours of TV a week at home. It's in the form of DVDs and recorded TV so we pick the time and the shows. It seems to be working out okay so far.
Our kids are still young, but when they get together with friends the last thing they want to do is watch TV. They're way more interested in playing with the other kids and checking out their toys. And the kids who have TV all the time aren't generally keen to watch more TV when they have the chance to play with other children who are visiting.
This TV situation hasn't lead to fights so far. The kids think of TV differently. It isn't something you languish in front of for hours, watching whatever comes on next. It isn't something that blares in the background all day long. You pick what you're going to watch, you watch it, and then you do something else. I find that a hard barrier when the show ends is useful. Before the show starts (or shows, we sometimes queue a couple) there is a plan in place for what they will do when it ends... eat supper, take a bath, walk to the grocery store with us, etc.
We fall off the TV wagon from time to time. I totally parked the kids in front of the one-eyed babysitter the day the movers were unloading the truck. However, since they aren't overloaded on it TV actually holds their attention for an extended period of time. I admit there are times when we totally capitalise on this.
I don't worry about the kids missing out on TV at this age. I don't have a lot of fond TV memories from my preschool years. I do have a soft spot for certain shows that were popular when I was school aged though, and admittedly, I learned a lot from TV through elementary and junior high school. I watched lots of PBS shows, documentaries, etc. I guess that's why I'm okay with a few hours of TV in the run of week.
It's important to me that we not become the TV police though, and I think that may get harder as the kids get older. My goal is that the kids just want to do other things most of the time. Part of that is making sure that they learn to fill their own time, and also have opportunities to do other things. Right now I can almost always think of something they would rather do than watch TV. It usually entails spending time with me or DH however, and I'm not sure that reading a story together or going to the park will work as an alternative when they're twelve.
Julie - Mom to Elizabeth (Libby) age 6, Penelope (Penny) age 5, Elliott age 29 months, and Oscar who is 1 year old!