is tv so bad that it is an all or nothing thing? - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 33 Old 09-04-2008, 12:14 PM - Thread Starter
 
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i am intrigued by the idea of a tv free household. i grew up in a household with two tvs on all the time whether somebody was watching or not so it is completely foreign to me. to be honest the quiet kinda creeps me out.

dh leaves it on all the time too. i have just started to get into the habit of turning it off when nobody's watching. i have also started to put on the music channels for background when it is too quiet.

since we got the dvr, ds can watch tv (a few select programs) and I can blow thru the commercials so ds dosen't start asking for "that useless piece of plastic". this also requires that I either view it with him or make regular check on him while doing dishes, etc. i also find that we watch less tv in general. now i only watch stuff that is recorded because i despise commercials.

so far so good.

i have no interest in being completely tv free, as we really enjoy alot of the programming on the science channel and the history channel. if one of these programs is on and appropriate, we allow 3 yo ds to watch with us. i would just like to limit it's use a bit more

am i totally damaging my ds by letting him watch backyardigans or modern marvels?

he gets plenty of creative play time, reading time, plenty of outside play time and good social interaction on a regular basis. we have no deficit of tv free activities to keep us entertained - i guess that means we dont need tv, but we enjoy it. when you're nursing every 1.5 hrs, sometimes you just have to stare at something mindless (scrubs!) for a while.

i have read buy buy baby (a few yrs ago) and it is appalling what lengths marketers will go to to inject little minds. that was part of the reason for the dvr.

so what is the real deal? he'll get exposure to this stuff thru school and peers anyway.

i've read the research and some of it just seems extreme. will even the smallest amount of tv - commercial free mind you - screw up ds? or me & dh for that matter?
just curious what people think.
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#2 of 33 Old 09-04-2008, 01:05 PM
 
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We are almost tv-free. I will set up the laptop on my dresser and we'll pop in a dvd and snuggle in my bed sometimes. We don't have a tv otherwise.

I think moderation is the key--it's ok to have one and enjoy it, but if it's abused (which is very easy with small children) it might be best to just get rid of it. I don't think tv under 3 is ever a good idea. (I did let my dd watch some shows, like Clifford, around 2.5, but I don't think it served her very well).

My daughter had to do vision therapy (and still needs it) due to a wandering eye. The therapist said that small children shouldn't watch tv because it interferes with how their brain processes information. (this is also evident from people who know anything about ADHD) It can make it difficult to track well (which is needed for reading and coloring--anything up up close) and make it difficult to concentrate. How much is too much? I have no idea. I think if you have a tv 30 minutes should be the max per day for any child.

We don't allow tv on school days, but on weekends, we watch a movie, so if averages out.

sarah

Mama to girl (11), boy (7) and girl (4).  "Can't we all just get along?" joy.gif
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#3 of 33 Old 09-04-2008, 01:20 PM
 
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I think the DVR is the best thing ever to happen to TV. Getting rid of the commercials goes a LONG way toward improving the content of what kids (and adults) are exposed to. Having things recorded really frees you from the disincentive to do other activities, such as, oh, I could do x,y,z, but I really wanted to see this episode of whatever. If you always know you can see it when you *don't* have something else fun to do, TV interferes much less with other activities. As far as what the act of watching TV does to brains in terms of the way scenes are cut and such, you're not going to get away from that, but most of the studies on that say "no tv under 2", so personally I wouldn't worry that much about a 3 year old watching some tv with few to no commercials if it's not interfering with other activities.

I think one reason many people are all or nothing about it (at least in the beginning, myself included) is that if you are used to watching TV, it can creep in and become more and more of a default activity. On days when I'm tired out, sometimes I just want to veg out in front of the TV, and that's ok sometimes if it's an active choice, but I find that if I find something else to do that takes a little bit more energy, once I get into it I not only have enough energy for it, but it gives me more energy and makes me feel better in the long run. So, to keep myself from viewing TV as "What I do when I have free time" I cut it out completely at first. We're now getting back into watching a few shows on unbox or dvd (um, i could never forsake battlestar!), but I think if we had cable it would be hard to resist just plopping on the couch in the evening and watching TV, even if I wasn't enjoying it.
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#4 of 33 Old 09-04-2008, 05:30 PM
 
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I think TV is a whole lot like alcohol. Best for older people (I would really strongly caution against TV for under-2), potentially beneficial in small or moderate amounts, arguably bad for a society as a whole, impossible to prohibit for all, and highly addictive for those of us vulnerable to it.

I like TV. I miss a lot of things on the science and history channels. I miss The Daily Show (although now I can get that online ). But I cannot moderate TV, at all, in any way. If it's on, I'm watching it. If it's there, I'll turn it on. If there's nothing good DVRed, I'll flip the channels. It does not feel good, but I do it anyway, because I can't stop it. I am a complete TV addict.

I think that up to a certain age, TV use in children is a parenting tool more than a self-selected form of entertainment. Because TV is harmful, although how harmful is up for debate (like alcohol), I'm not going to use it as a parenting tool, any more than I'd use alcohol (or Tylenol, or any other drug) to help my child calm down or sleep or to get myself a break. I'm not knocking others who do (either TV or Tylenol), but it's not a tool I'm willing to use. When the kid gets old enough to instigate its use on his own, then we can talk, just like one day he'll be old enough to make his own choices about alcohol.

And no, I don't think you're "totally damaging" your child by using TV. There are pros and cons to all options (total media access, limited TV, DVDs only, no screen time, etc) -- which is not to say I think they're all equal, just that reasonable people, with different values and different goals and different children and different lives, can reasonably choose different paths.
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#5 of 33 Old 09-08-2008, 09:50 AM
 
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For us it's worked well to not have TV reception at all (it's been 8 yrs so far) but after a few years we did get a dvd player. So, we aren't all or nothing, but we found our balance. We all enjoy movies and some tv on dvd.
For my visual-spatial learner, dvds are a great resource.
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#6 of 33 Old 09-08-2008, 09:57 AM
 
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Originally Posted by Arwyn View Post
I think TV is a whole lot like alcohol. Best for older people (I would really strongly caution against TV for under-2), potentially beneficial in small or moderate amounts, arguably bad for a society as a whole, impossible to prohibit for all, and highly addictive for those of us vulnerable to it.

I like TV. I miss a lot of things on the science and history channels. I miss The Daily Show (although now I can get that online ). But I cannot moderate TV, at all, in any way. If it's on, I'm watching it. If it's there, I'll turn it on. If there's nothing good DVRed, I'll flip the channels. It does not feel good, but I do it anyway, because I can't stop it. I am a complete TV addict.

I think that up to a certain age, TV use in children is a parenting tool more than a self-selected form of entertainment. Because TV is harmful, although how harmful is up for debate (like alcohol), I'm not going to use it as a parenting tool, any more than I'd use alcohol (or Tylenol, or any other drug) to help my child calm down or sleep or to get myself a break. I'm not knocking others who do (either TV or Tylenol), but it's not a tool I'm willing to use. When the kid gets old enough to instigate its use on his own, then we can talk, just like one day he'll be old enough to make his own choices about alcohol.

And no, I don't think you're "totally damaging" your child by using TV. There are pros and cons to all options (total media access, limited TV, DVDs only, no screen time, etc) -- which is not to say I think they're all equal, just that reasonable people, with different values and different goals and different children and different lives, can reasonably choose different paths.
Great post! We're broadcast tv free. We have a television that we use for movies and games when DD is asleep. The last time it wast turned on was three weeks ago. DH and I love movies. We're also huge geeks who love to watch DVDs of Buffy and X-Files. The important thing for us is that DD is not exposed and that when we (the adults) watch, it's a mindful choice, not just background noise or a boredom buster.

BTW: You can watch highlights from the Daily Show on its website if you need a fix. I couldn't survive the RNC without some Stewart.
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#7 of 33 Old 09-08-2008, 06:28 PM
 
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I think you are asking a few things here, and so there are a few things that come into play.

1.) Commercialism. The commercials are bad, but if you REALLY look at it, it is not JUST the commercials. Shoot. The WORLD is Dora! She is technically not a commercial, but look how commercial she is. She sells everything. What I'm saying is that often, the shows THEMSELVES can be seen as a commercial. Watch Dora, fall in love with her in 1/2 hour, buy whatever has her face on it. So, skipping the commercials is not the whole picture of what IS commercial about children's programming. It is more complicated than that.

2.) How bad is TV really? The answer to that is unknown, honestly. More and more there is evidence that it is harmful to children, even in small doses. But then again, finding actual "proof" is hard as life is complex and to pin troubles on TV is not a direct line. And even if there was proof, well... there is proof that candy is bad for you. Does that mean you never eat it? At what line is damaging? At what point is it too much? There is no definitive answer to that. But the first recognition that seems to be irrefutable is that it is, in fact, not healthy. Just as a little candy is not healthy, even in small doses. Where to draw the line is another matter.

3.) Kids get exposed to it anyway. OK- this is my personal stance on this. That may be true, but I don't have to contribute to it. And I don't have to buy into the idea that childhood is about characters or fitting in or having "the toy" or whatever. Without TV, I feel my son has more choices and hopefully a strong sense of independent thought. Just as he will be exposed to lots of things in life from other kids (some good and some bad), I see my job as navigator, mentor, and support. Not to mold him into someone who will "fit in".

4.) All or nothing. There is a lot that goes into this decision. A primary factor for us was that we found TV to be addictive and when we really looked at it, we made decisions around it (had to be home for "friends"!), we gave up other things for it (instead of read or go for a walk, we'd flip on the TV), and we felt we "needed" it for the noise... something comforting and numbing. We decided this was not how we wanted to spend our time- our lives. And moderation didn't work. If the TV was there, it was too easy to put on and leave on. So, for us it had to be all or nothing. Now, we feel that life without TV is very different and that we have none of it... Well, it feels good. That said, I also try not to make it forbidden fruit. We don't have one at home, so that means that like 98% of our life is TV-free. That other 2%- at grandma's twice a year, when DS is really sick and we've read every book in the house, when we are on an airplane, etc.- I try to find something age appropriate and fun. TV therefore is not foreign to him, it is just not part of our everyday life.

The other thing that you didn't mention that is a factor in this is that TV in some ways becomes worse for kids as they get older and it becomes harder to manage. That toddler that danced and sang with the Wiggles will soon become a 5 year old sitting passively all Saturday morning watching cartoons. The pre-schooler who might easily be redirected or have other interests when mom turns the TV off will become the 7 year old who does not want to go outside, who does not want to do other things, who will put up a real fight. The parent who says "just a half hour for my toddler while I cook dinner" turns into "well, at least she got her homework done and I'm happy for the quiet, even if the tv has been on for 5 hours". It is a slippery slope...
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#8 of 33 Old 09-08-2008, 06:36 PM
 
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Originally Posted by swimswamswum View Post
BTW: You can watch highlights from the Daily Show on its website if you need a fix. I couldn't survive the RNC without some Stewart.
You can watch full episodes now! No commercials! LOVE IT!!! :

OK, weird place to be happy about access to a TV show but really this was the one thing I really truly missed... Although I gotta say, we've watched maybe half a dozen episodes in the last half a dozen months, and four of those were the DNC shows last weekend. As much as I like it, one of the pleasant discoveries about going TV free is that I don't really need it.

alexsam - great post!
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#9 of 33 Old 09-08-2008, 10:38 PM
 
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I think you are asking a few things here, and so there are a few things that come into play.

1.) Commercialism. The commercials are bad, but if you REALLY look at it, it is not JUST the commercials. Shoot. The WORLD is Dora! She is technically not a commercial, but look how commercial she is. She sells everything. What I'm saying is that often, the shows THEMSELVES can be seen as a commercial. Watch Dora, fall in love with her in 1/2 hour, buy whatever has her face on it. So, skipping the commercials is not the whole picture of what IS commercial about children's programming. It is more complicated than that.

2.) How bad is TV really? The answer to that is unknown, honestly. More and more there is evidence that it is harmful to children, even in small doses. But then again, finding actual "proof" is hard as life is complex and to pin troubles on TV is not a direct line. And even if there was proof, well... there is proof that candy is bad for you. Does that mean you never eat it? At what line is damaging? At what point is it too much? There is no definitive answer to that. But the first recognition that seems to be irrefutable is that it is, in fact, not healthy. Just as a little candy is not healthy, even in small doses. Where to draw the line is another matter.

3.) Kids get exposed to it anyway. OK- this is my personal stance on this. That may be true, but I don't have to contribute to it. And I don't have to buy into the idea that childhood is about characters or fitting in or having "the toy" or whatever. Without TV, I feel my son has more choices and hopefully a strong sense of independent thought. Just as he will be exposed to lots of things in life from other kids (some good and some bad), I see my job as navigator, mentor, and support. Not to mold him into someone who will "fit in".

4.) All or nothing. There is a lot that goes into this decision. A primary factor for us was that we found TV to be addictive and when we really looked at it, we made decisions around it (had to be home for "friends"!), we gave up other things for it (instead of read or go for a walk, we'd flip on the TV), and we felt we "needed" it for the noise... something comforting and numbing. We decided this was not how we wanted to spend our time- our lives. And moderation didn't work. If the TV was there, it was too easy to put on and leave on. So, for us it had to be all or nothing. Now, we feel that life without TV is very different and that we have none of it... Well, it feels good. That said, I also try not to make it forbidden fruit. We don't have one at home, so that means that like 98% of our life is TV-free. That other 2%- at grandma's twice a year, when DS is really sick and we've read every book in the house, when we are on an airplane, etc.- I try to find something age appropriate and fun. TV therefore is not foreign to him, it is just not part of our everyday life.

The other thing that you didn't mention that is a factor in this is that TV in some ways becomes worse for kids as they get older and it becomes harder to manage. That toddler that danced and sang with the Wiggles will soon become a 5 year old sitting passively all Saturday morning watching cartoons. The pre-schooler who might easily be redirected or have other interests when mom turns the TV off will become the 7 year old who does not want to go outside, who does not want to do other things, who will put up a real fight. The parent who says "just a half hour for my toddler while I cook dinner" turns into "well, at least she got her homework done and I'm happy for the quiet, even if the tv has been on for 5 hours". It is a slippery slope...
:

Awesome post. This sums up my feelings on this way better than I ever could.
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#10 of 33 Old 09-15-2008, 09:12 AM
 
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I think you are asking a few things here, and so there are a few things that come into play.

1.) Commercialism. The commercials are bad, but if you REALLY look at it, it is not JUST the commercials. Shoot. The WORLD is Dora! She is technically not a commercial, but look how commercial she is. She sells everything. What I'm saying is that often, the shows THEMSELVES can be seen as a commercial. Watch Dora, fall in love with her in 1/2 hour, buy whatever has her face on it. So, skipping the commercials is not the whole picture of what IS commercial about children's programming. It is more complicated than that.

2.) How bad is TV really? The answer to that is unknown, honestly. More and more there is evidence that it is harmful to children, even in small doses. But then again, finding actual "proof" is hard as life is complex and to pin troubles on TV is not a direct line. And even if there was proof, well... there is proof that candy is bad for you. Does that mean you never eat it? At what line is damaging? At what point is it too much? There is no definitive answer to that. But the first recognition that seems to be irrefutable is that it is, in fact, not healthy. Just as a little candy is not healthy, even in small doses. Where to draw the line is another matter.

3.) Kids get exposed to it anyway. OK- this is my personal stance on this. That may be true, but I don't have to contribute to it. And I don't have to buy into the idea that childhood is about characters or fitting in or having "the toy" or whatever. Without TV, I feel my son has more choices and hopefully a strong sense of independent thought. Just as he will be exposed to lots of things in life from other kids (some good and some bad), I see my job as navigator, mentor, and support. Not to mold him into someone who will "fit in".

4.) All or nothing. There is a lot that goes into this decision. A primary factor for us was that we found TV to be addictive and when we really looked at it, we made decisions around it (had to be home for "friends"!), we gave up other things for it (instead of read or go for a walk, we'd flip on the TV), and we felt we "needed" it for the noise... something comforting and numbing. We decided this was not how we wanted to spend our time- our lives. And moderation didn't work. If the TV was there, it was too easy to put on and leave on. So, for us it had to be all or nothing. Now, we feel that life without TV is very different and that we have none of it... Well, it feels good. That said, I also try not to make it forbidden fruit. We don't have one at home, so that means that like 98% of our life is TV-free. That other 2%- at grandma's twice a year, when DS is really sick and we've read every book in the house, when we are on an airplane, etc.- I try to find something age appropriate and fun. TV therefore is not foreign to him, it is just not part of our everyday life.

The other thing that you didn't mention that is a factor in this is that TV in some ways becomes worse for kids as they get older and it becomes harder to manage. That toddler that danced and sang with the Wiggles will soon become a 5 year old sitting passively all Saturday morning watching cartoons. The pre-schooler who might easily be redirected or have other interests when mom turns the TV off will become the 7 year old who does not want to go outside, who does not want to do other things, who will put up a real fight. The parent who says "just a half hour for my toddler while I cook dinner" turns into "well, at least she got her homework done and I'm happy for the quiet, even if the tv has been on for 5 hours". It is a slippery slope...


I can't stress enough that its not just the commercials. Take a look at the Disney channel. There is no way in H@*L I want my 10 Yr. old DD watching Hanna Montanna or High school musical or any of that other crap. Not only is it a big commercial in its self but many smaller details drive it home. For example, Hanna song lyrics. She talks about be rich and famous saying its the best in life, money money money...... Not to mention her topless stunt on Vanity Fair (was it Vanity Fair?). These are just a few examples and I could go on to talk about body image, conforming to a certain mold, willing to stomp on others to achieve their goals, characters living a very consumerist life......Also, take a look at the teen show Gossip girl I cannot believe some of the things that go on & its marketed to teens.
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#11 of 33 Old 10-17-2008, 05:53 PM
 
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I think TV is a whole lot like alcohol. Best for older people (I would really strongly caution against TV for under-2), potentially beneficial in small or moderate amounts, arguably bad for a society as a whole, impossible to prohibit for all, and highly addictive for those of us vulnerable to it.
I enjoy this metaphor I'm fully ready to pull it out if anyone asks why DD is almost TV-free even though DH and I both work in the television industry...just because we work in the brewery doesn't mean we're giving our kid beer.

To the OP - Um, I don't think it has to be all-or-nothing, but the lifestyle choice has to be all-or-nothing, if that makes any sense. I basically don't want to model to my DD that TV is what adults do. I also don't really see the need for her to watch shows either. She hasn't been exposed to it that much, therefore there is no need to restrict it - it's not part of her routine. I hope she is being brought up to expect that people are productive, social, and engaged in their environments.

OTOH, since we are not all-or-nothing, she knows what the TV is for, and I don't really know how I'll handle it if she asks for it regularly when she's old enough to reason. But we don't have cable or any kids' DVDs, so I guess I have an easy answer for awhile yet.
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#12 of 33 Old 10-18-2008, 10:30 PM
 
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I have recently been debating this question also. We have only used our computer for dvds and streaming sports for a while now, but we decided recently to get a tv. I am tempted to get cable, but I think it's best not to for us, because when I have had cable in the past, I get very addicted and waste a lot of time. I get sad when I think about wasting so much of my life span in front of the tv, so to combat this issue, we are sticking with just the tv and dvd player. DP and I will watch movies some evenings, and dd will watch shows we deem wholesome and pleasant in moderation. I don't think there is one answer for everyone because people watch tv for different reasons, and in different amounts. It is important to know your limits (like with alcohol !!) and act accordingly and it is also important to watch your children's reactions to tv and act accordingly.
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#13 of 33 Old 10-18-2008, 10:40 PM
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It is not up to me to define for my child what she finds enjoyable or interesting or worthy of her time with the caveat that of course it is legal, age appropriate (by most reasonable people's standards), and doesn't negatively affect or compromise other areas of her life -- and also that it is not done to (what I would consider) the extreme or the exclusion of everything else.

I am an advocate for little or no tv until around age 2 (dd was tv free until about 2) however this may be more difficult with older children/younger sibling.

DD watches tv, as we are on the "radical" side of unschooling and we trust her to determine what feels right to her (as with food, bedtimes, etc). In most instances, she regulates beautifully with a few "blips" here and there of what I consider to be extreme tv-watching or whatever. However, in those times I most often have to look within myself and most often I determine that *I* am falling back on it more than I should.

TV in no way thus far has limited dd's creativity, attention span, or desire to learn, grow, explore, imagine, create or do other things that the crunchy set determines to be "worthy" of a child's time

ETA: dd has been exposed to marketing a little bit, though most of what she sees is not commercial tv -- however, I don't treat marketing like the big bad boogie man -- we talk about it like anything else -- in an honest, frank, matter of fact way -- asking a lot of questions, providing information, etc. She doesn't want everything she sees in a store or whatever because she saw it on tv. However, if she wanted something she saw on tv, I certainly wouldn't treat it like a fundamental flaw. I see things I think would be cool to have It doesn't mean I get everything or I am unhappy if I don't get it, or I get it * because* I saw an ad for it or whatever.
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#14 of 33 Old 10-18-2008, 10:51 PM
 
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subbing, this is an issue I think about a lot. My dd was TV-free until almost 2 but has watched increasing amounts since then and is one of those people (like me) who are easily addicted to this kind of stimulation.

I don't really know what to do about it - having a completely TV-free household seems extreme, especially since my DH would never go for that.

She only watches commercial-free children's programming and age-appropriate DVDs and despite the fact that I like a lot of the content she watches and none of it is *bad*, I still think it's basically a negative thing that TV has taken such an important place in her life. (She talks about her favorite shows all the time and asks to watch TV all the time)

Basically I'm disappointed in myself for not figuring out a way to come up with a solution that works for our family. Right now the amount of TV dd watches is fine with her but it's not OK with me, and yet I have found it hard to set limits (and I don't have this problem with other things I need to limit, for instance we don't keep junk food in the house and I am comfortable saying "no" if she wants a sugary treat after having eaten a lot of sugary junk that day...it's not hard for me to do that, but it's hard for me to say no to TV, probably b/c I "get a break" when she is watching TV).

So, I'm very interested to read others' thoughts and how they have either managed to incorporate TV into their lives in a way that everyone is happy with, or how they are living TV-free. Which is what I think I really want, but so far have been way too wishy-washy/addicted to accomplish. :
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#15 of 33 Old 10-18-2008, 10:54 PM
 
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In a word: yes.

for me anyway. I think it's garbage. Even "great" children's programing.

Happy mom to DS2000, DS2002, DD2004, DS2006 and DS 10/2009:
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#16 of 33 Old 10-18-2008, 11:07 PM
 
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i say more power to someone who can do all or nothing........

and while i think all is definately unhealthy (yk, tv on 24 seven, scheduling around favorite shows, buying into the commercial lifestyle etc...) i don't think the reverse is bad. i don't think kids or adults are impaired in anyway by not being exposed.

several of the aboves posts have expressed my thoughts so well, alexsam in particular.........

although i have to admit that we are not tv free and place only nominal limits on viewing :
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#17 of 33 Old 10-18-2008, 11:16 PM
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So, I'm very interested to read others' thoughts and how they have either managed to incorporate TV into their lives in a way that everyone is happy with, or how they are living TV-free. Which is what I think I really want, but so far have been way too wishy-washy/addicted to accomplish. :
I don't know if it is appropriate because this is a tv free forum, but we go through times where I feel uncomfortable with the amount of tv dd is watching. However, I have determined those times are not so much that dd is all addicted -- it is more that I am not stepping up my game and becoming complacent because it does give me a *break*.

I guess it is just your perspective on the issue. I don't think tv is "bad". I don't live in that mindset where I think it is some monster that is hell bent on stealing my child's mind and spirit. I think, like *anything* it can get to extremes -- I mean, if my child were playing play dough for 8 hours a day to the exclusion of other things... I would be worried too -- but many mamas here see that as "creative" so they would celebrate that

I dunno, I think my little girl is the most awesome creature on the planet -- so creative, imaginative, bright, funny-- I don't attribute that to tv -- but I can also say that tv obviously hasn't sucked the life out of her .... yet


I also see that when I dropped all the energy and fuss and worry and obsessing I did over tv, (magically) it didn't hold nearly the power it did before. Today the tv didn't come on once

One thing I did do though, is put curtains in front of the bookshelf the tv is on, and keep the curtains closed typically like this (like when she wakes up they are closed). This helps us both focus on other things or try to find other ways to amuse ourselves, rather than using the tv as a *default* mode. I don't mind her watching tv, but I don't like when it is just default mode (again, usually when I am not on my game).

At the end of the day though, I trust dd to determine what feels right to her. It is not always easy for me -- my nature is to protect -- but many times I find people use that as a synonym for control. I don't desire to control her. I admire people who are tv-free if it is what works for their family. The key word being, the whole family. I often find that people will say something works for their family when it is working for the parents kwim. We consider the wants of all involved equally (or we really try to!).
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#18 of 33 Old 10-19-2008, 01:20 PM
 
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Captain crunchy, I think I do understand what you mean about control.

One thing that makes tv something close to a non-issue for us is that we don't have one.

My older children do watch a dvd or two a month. It's always a treat and they get to chose from among the dvds we own. If we get into a period (such as when we were packing for our overseas move) when they watch something more frequently it does tend to get to be more of a control issue. I'm not sure why, but I think that perhaps they forget about it from week to week if viewing is infrequent.

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#19 of 33 Old 10-19-2008, 10:15 PM
 
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CC, I really do understand where you're coming from and I agree with much of what you have written. But, I must say that while I too have no desire to control my dd in some simplistic way, as parents we all control our children's environments to some extent - by choosing what is in our homes, by choosing where we live, what activities we bring children along to, etc. So our children's choices are proscribed by our choices. I don't feel like it would be "controlling" my dd to remove the TV from my house, although it would be removing an activity from her daily life.

I love the curtains idea. My friend IRL (also an MDC mama) has her TV in a cabinet and it mostly stays closed. I'm thinking of something like that for the future. Unfortunately right now our TV is large, centrally located (hard to find another place, it's a small apt.) and not mounted on any furniture, so curtains or whatnot would be difficult to rig.

I think I am going to have to "step up my game" for now and provide dd with more attractive things than TV, and also to get out of the house more. In the future, though, I hope we'll have a bigger house so we can get the TV out of the way and maybe not have reception, just use it to watch movies on. That is what my parents do, they have been broadcast-TV-free for about 10 years and they don't miss it at all. My major obstacle is DH but that's another story!
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#20 of 33 Old 10-20-2008, 07:19 PM
 
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CC, I really do understand where you're coming from and I agree with much of what you have written. But, I must say that while I too have no desire to control my dd in some simplistic way, as parents we all control our children's environments to some extent - by choosing what is in our homes, by choosing where we live, what activities we bring children along to, etc. So our children's choices are proscribed by our choices. I don't feel like it would be "controlling" my dd to remove the TV from my house, although it would be removing an activity from her daily life.

Yes... I totally agree. TV, no matter how you cut it is a pretty shallow past-time. We are all entitled to moments of mindless enjoyment (we don't have to be super-person ALL the time!) but there are many ways of doing this. And kids are EXPERT at finding their own if there is no TV there. My son will flop around on the couch with some toy cars and look out the window. He will listen to books on CD. He will lay on the floor and pick at the rug. Sounds silly, but it is him decompressing.

And my other niggle about what CC said is that I DO feel that TV is ultimately harmful and unhealthy. I give my son a lot of free reign about things too. I try to encourage good life habits, but if he wants dessert before dinner- hey. whatever. And if he's not tired, well, I can't force him to bed. But I also don't pour him a glass of wine at dinner or leave it up to him to keep the bathroom clean and sanitary (even though the "misses" are his!) or let him play in the front yard near the road without supervision. To me, TV does not fall into a category of harmless.

I also am a firm believer that kids are responsible for their OWN enjoyment! I think finding a million things to do for tv-free kids defeats the purpose (and is not needed anyway). My job is to provide a safe, open, enjoyable place to be with quality toys and a variety of things for ds to choose from and can use in many ways. My job is to protect some time for him to be quiet and alone (not a LOT of time, but some time each day to find his own space and pleasure). If I am constantly carting him around, shoving crayons at him, chasing him with board games, when does he have time to seek out the things that HE really likes? A little boredom can spur creativity. How many games are made up by mom saying "Go outside! Git!"? How many funny collections and life-long hobbies were started by mom saying "You have a million toys! Find something to do!" TRUST that your kids WILL find something. Something that they enjoy. There may be whining at first. Complaints. An urge to just buy and work to get them to stop or fill in what it seems like you are taking away by removing the tv, but really, see their (temporary!) boredom as a gift to them in the long run. They WILL find hobbies, create games, connect with friends, and get to know themselves better.

I think we are a culture that has come to fear silence. To fear being quiet with ourselves. To fear what may lurk within us when there is no one numbing or pushing us. I think that hurts. I think that we all need to know and be comfortable within our own minds. And I think tv is the biggest, most widely used way to avoid ourselves... Mostly, kids don't hold the same intensity of this fear. And it is easier to break. Kick the tv when they are little .
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#21 of 33 Old 10-20-2008, 07:44 PM
 
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It really seems to me that it comes down to a fundamental disagreement about the nature of TV. Is it neutral to beneficial? Or is it neutral to dangerous? Is it like cookies, or is it like alcohol? We each get to make a decision about that, and from that decision, any position from total TV-free-dom to total TV-freedom can make complete sense.

For me, it is like alcohol; it is not something to deliberately expose my child to. We just don't have TV in the house, so there's no power struggle over it, just like we don't have chocolate in the house, because I'm allergic to it. In a decade, we can have discussions about personal choices and negotiate over the issue if he really wants access to TV at that point, but for now, I am not denying him anything, only avoiding exposing him to something that, to me, is simply not appropriate for children, or for regular consumption by adults. Others have a fundamentally different view of TV, and thus they make perfectly understandable and reasonable decisions that appear radically different from mine.
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#22 of 33 Old 10-20-2008, 10:20 PM
 
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amen, alexsam

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#23 of 33 Old 10-21-2008, 05:40 PM
 
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Except the difference, Arwyn, is that there is legitimate and mounting research that supports the fact that TV is NOT harmless or "neutral to beneficial". People may believe that it is (or might look for only the "good" in it and convince themselves that there is benefit in it, or somehow decide that the small benefits outweigh the "bad"), but that belief is not really rooted in evidence. I understand the drive to be gentle in regards to those who do turn on the TV, but somehow lending validity to the idea that TV itself neutral or even beneficial is not reinforced by the most current research or even the most conservative large health and education organizations.

There are many, many things that we (collective) did not believe were harmful and have come to find out are (and some we have mourned their "loss" because they felt good ). It is not a judgement on the people that did them- people just didn't know. Sunbathing, for one. We used to throw everything away, now we recycle. When I was a kid, seatbelts were like a foreign idea. Doctors told women formula was better than breastmilk and to put babies to sleep on their tummies. For goodness sakes- only recently have people really been able to PROVE that smoking causes cancer. Even recently, things we (moms here including myself) have probably done because we (collective as all people) just didn't know- how many of us have given babies or small children cold medicine thinking we are helping a stuffy little one breathe easier? Now we come to find out that not only that it doesn't work, but that it may be harmful or even dangerous and now is not advised at all.

HOW bad is TV? We don't know. And the effects are hard to see and there are certainly lots of people who don't seem to be effected at all. But that doesn't mean its NOT bad. Those that hold that TV is good or at least neutral are either ignoring (or are innocently ignorant to) mounting evidence to the contrary for personal reasons or have decided the marginal benefits are more important than the big picture.

I guess what I've taken this long to say is- call a spade a spade. If we turn on the TV, we should aknowledge that we are endulging in something that is not an entirely neutral or healthy choice and we should be prepared by knowing what we can and making choices based on that. If we turn on the TV, we should know what kind of choice we are making and decide accordingly and not sugar coat it. It's OK to enjoy "naughty" things once in a while. But I don't tell myself its something its not.
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#24 of 33 Old 11-04-2008, 02:15 AM
 
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My house is not TV free, so take this FWIW. I watch TV news for 15 min or so in the morning while I get ready. I watch LOST. Other than that, I very rarely turn the TV on when I'm the only one home. DD sometimes watches DVDs (currently she's into How The Grinch Stole Christmas (the cartoon version) but usually she's a Sesame Street girl). She almost never watches real TV, and when she does, it's PBS. We don't have cable and neither one of us is bothered by a TV that's turned off.

I don't really think that TV is particularily beneficial but I see it as a fun treat. It's not a replacement for building fairy houses or cooking pretend birthday dinners and she'd be fine without it. But an occasional 45 minutes of Sesame Street? We could make much "naughtier" choices, IMO.

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#25 of 33 Old 11-04-2008, 09:06 PM
 
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But an occasional 45 minutes of Sesame Street? We could make much "naughtier" choices, IMO.
True... but what happens when it's not Sesame Street anymore? What happens when it's Hannah Montana. Or the kids down the street are talking about the Bratz movies?

I'm not picking on you () I'm noting a trend... I think we feel "OK" with the pre-school shows. They are cute, not total drivel, we ourselves have fond memories of them, nothing objectionable in them, and pre-schoolers are still young and flexible and manageable enough to be OK when the TV goes off to find other ways of entertaining themselves... So we begin a pattern of TV (or, at least we are saying to ourselves "This isn't so bad!"). Then, before we know it, the shows have changed. The kids are less tolerant of "TV rules". We've come to accept the TV's presence and so we maybe let it stay on longer, more often. Soon Sesame Street will be out of favor. What happens next?

In short, to me it seems like a slippery slope...
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#26 of 33 Old 11-05-2008, 01:42 PM
 
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We are very new to the TV-free lifestyle, so take this FWIW. I don't think it needs to be all or nothing, but I do believe very strongly that the only purpose of a television show is to get you to watch more television! And it is all about the ad dollars, not just for commercials, but product placement, and the characters themselves. If a young child is in the habit of "only" watching a couple of PBS shows, they will quickly become older children that think those shows are too "baby" for them and will move on to bigger, and more aggressive things. I've seen this happen with my 8yr-old-"why don't we watch spongebob? I'm too big for curious george!" I wasn't ready for that, so we pulled the plug (on cable), and then our antenna "broke".

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#27 of 33 Old 11-07-2008, 04:21 AM
 
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Until my dd1 turned 5, we were completely TV free when the kids were awake. I will confess to a DVD with DP here and there in the evenings, but we have been without channels of any kind for more than a decade now. I saw no need to introduce television watching to my girls for the same reasons that are posted above.

However, at age 5, my eldest asked if she could see a movie every now and then. Being unschoolers, I didn't immediately say no, but I asked her how she thought we should work it out: how can we enjoy movies without spending too much time watching? She said that she is always tired after swimming (we hit the pool once a week) and that it seemed like a good time to watch a movie. So, we gave it a month's trial to see if we could keep viewing under control. A year later, this is still our pattern.

For us, this works well. The girls are able to see some good films, to see watching as a treat, and to keep it very limited. YMMV.
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#28 of 33 Old 11-08-2008, 03:07 PM
 
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True... but what happens when it's not Sesame Street anymore? What happens when it's Hannah Montana. Or the kids down the street are talking about the Bratz movies?
...
In short, to me it seems like a slippery slope...
Great question, and it's one I've asked myself. But then I remember that I'm nursing and co-sleeping with a two year old and I have no fears of having to move into her dorm when she does off to college. That's because I have confidence that I'll be able to adapt as a mom as she grows as a child. Our lives and our (limited) TV viewing will certainly be different when she's, say, six years old or twelve years old. But that doesn't mean I won't continue to monitor her activities and her TV viewing and guide her through life as I do now.

Anna will almost certainly be exposed to Hannah Montana since her father doesn't agree with my TV stance. So I'll be forced to use HM (or whoever the cool preteen idol is in a few years) as a teaching tool. It's not ideal on the surface but after a lot of reflection, I'm actually grateful for the opportunity to get to do round one of "damage control" on something so benign as a mildly-objectionable pre-teen pop star. I don't intend to vilify HM but I do plan to use her (and especially the extreme commercialism of her "brand") to teach my daughter some important lessons.

Now I'm not suggesting that you marry, have a kid, and then divorce a mostly decent guy just for the opportunity to teach the same lesson. My point is that even in the absolute perfect child-rearing scenario, at some point your child will become an adult and will be able to make choices for himself re: TV viewing and everything else. And I'm sure that you're confident that the foundation you're laying by implementing a TV-free home will enable your grown children to continue to make responsible choices. But, just the same, I'm similarly confident that my daughter will also view TV for what it is by the time she's grown. Two different approaches that will (hopefully) lead to two similar, excellent end results.

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#29 of 33 Old 11-19-2008, 03:10 AM
 
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Hey everyone, just thought I'd throw in that I grew up t.v. free for about 4 years as a child. When my parents did finally get a t.v. again when I was 15 we lived way out in the middle of nowhere and didn't have an antenna or anything so all we watched on the thing was movies on a VCR. It was difficult for my parents to get us off the "sauce", they bribed us with a dollar a day for the first month they took it away. Saying if we could make it a month we would have $30 (huge amount to an 11 y.o. in the 80s) and just never gave the T.V. back. The upside of all of it was that by the time I was in 8th grade I was reading college level books, I had a far broader vocabulary than most kids my age and I was excelling in most other subjects in school. I am not T.V. free currently, I have gone back and forth with it all my adult life. I find when I am T.V. free, I read more, ride my bike more, hike more, think clearer, have less mood swings, feel less stressed I could go on and on about it. Finally I really just don't feel that attached to it, I can do with or without and even though I own a T.V. now I can leave the thing off for days and not miss it at all.
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#30 of 33 Old 11-22-2008, 09:23 PM
 
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We are not TV free, we are more tv lite. We lead a very active life, so books that we can take on the go are a big part of our entertainment. TV for us is more of the icing on the cake. We do get netflix, and we get a couple of local channels. So we do watch a few movies a week and a ball game on the weekends. I enjoy watching the evening news as well. For us TV in this amount works. When we had cable I swear it was like one giant infommercial. I really dont miss it. So for us being cable free is more important than being TV free.
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