Too Much TV!?

They call me the TV Nazi at our house. I refuse to let my boys sit for hours like zombies planted in front of the boob tube. Therefore I am the bad guy a lot around here.

I’ve had a number of fights with my oldest that have ended with me literally pulling the plug on our old living room set. He would sit and watch TV all day long if I let him. And he would be perfectly happy doing so.

But I want him to get up and live. In my opinion, TV should not be used as a baby sitter or replacement for physical activity or cognitive stimulation.

Yet even I was surprised by a handout the doctor gave me at my 3-year-old’s annual check-up. It said he should view no more than one hour of TV each day.

One hour? That’s not even enough time to sit through an entire Disney cartoon movie. So what do you do? Pop in Tangled and just when Rapunzel’s about to discover she’s the lost princess, you shut it off? Do you tell your kids, “Sorry, your hour’s up?”

I don’t know who much TV is too much and how they determine what is enough. I’m sure that every family has different boundaries set up for their household, but 60 minutes seems a little low to me.

On a “normal” day, I let my children watch about 30-60 minutes of television each morning and then up to another hour of their “favorite” shows after my oldest gets home from school.  That’s it. Every once in a while we’ll have a movie afternoon or there will be a special on in the evening that we will watch, but that’s the exception not the rule.

Keep in mind that’s what I let them watch. If they got their hands on the remote, they would watch much more.

I honestly don’t know what has happened to me. I’ve gone from the teenager who used to sit in her parent’s recliner watching soap operas while doing high school homework, to the mother who can’t stand to have her children’s brains turned to mush while watching too much TV.

My friend posted recently on her blog how she and her husband basically gave up watching television. They hardly watch television anymore. (Read about her experience here.) I feel the same way. If I were to have an hour to sit down one evening and do anything I wanted, it wouldn’t be turning on the tube.

So now I’m curious…

What are the restrictions at your house? Do you let your children watch TV whenever they want? Do you make them turn it off at specific times of day? Do they sit like spaced-out zombies, tuning everything and anything else out or is it a background feature at your house that they listen to while playing and doing other things? How much is too much?

10 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Amanda Joy
    Sep 15, 2011 @ 09:58:10

    We don’t have TV at our house, just movies… so that makes it easier. Our kids get to watch all or part of a movie at grandma’s house everyday while I am at work. Sometimes we watch a movie at our house before bed, sometimes we just play and dance. Moderation is what I try and work on with it.


    • Natalie
      Sep 15, 2011 @ 13:43:31

      You are such a good mom Amanda. You always have the best take on things. I agree with you, moderation is a good goal. Some days I wish we were like you and didn’t have TV at our house 🙂


  2. Ashlie J
    Sep 15, 2011 @ 13:50:54

    We do just movies and Mommy/Daddy-approved shows we have recorded on the DVR (Sesame Street, Mickey Mouse Clubhouse, Word World). If she watches ‘normal TV’ it’s usually on Sprout or PBS. A lot of times I need the help to get her to sit still for to get her hair done. The most wild we get around here is Saturday morning cartoons (woooooo, livin’ on the edge). We have certain times for TV watching (like, after preschool when she needs some rest time). RIGHT NOW she’s watching our They Might Be Giants “Here Come the 123s” DVD.

    The 3yo has watched a lot of educational stuff and learned a lot from it! Just last night I was cutting a tomato and she said, “Hey! A tomato. It might be a fruit, or it might be a vegetable. That’s science, Mom. Science taught me that!”. She’d watched Bill Nye last week – can you tell? And then there’s my second child. The TV may be on, but he’s not really interested in it. He watches it for 3 minutes then turns around and find something else to play with. Usually a ball to throw and chase.


  3. Amanda S.
    Sep 15, 2011 @ 16:09:30

    We’ve significantly cut back on TV. So much so that the kids generally go for a week or two without watching anything. This summer, we probably only had it on a handful of times, and the rest of the time they were busy playing outside, doing chores, or reading books. It’s almost just blended into the corner of our living room so that no one notices it anymore. It’s a lovely, lovely thing! I’m happy to be the TV Nazi around here because I know that there are so many other things my kids can (and WILL) do when they aren’t mesmerized by that giant noise-maker.

    That’s not to say it hasn’t been an adjustment. I definitely went through my period of listening to them begging me to watch shows, but that has waned, and my kids are calmer and in better moods because of it. (Ever notice how ornery they get when you turn off the TV???)

    I know no TV isn’t the solution for everyone, but in my experience it’s been for the better. 🙂 We do watch it every once in a while, but that’s maybe once every couple of weeks, and that’s only after chores, homework and other activities are finished–which = not very often. 😉


    • Natalie
      Sep 16, 2011 @ 09:02:19

      I remember when I came over to your house that you said you hardly ever turn on your TV! I totally admire that. I’m glad I’m not the only one who has had kids whining to watch something. My kids have gotten a lot better, I think they are realizing I am not going to budge :).


  4. Annette Cutler
    Sep 15, 2011 @ 16:32:08

    We’ve had our Dish TV shut off for more than a year now and I LOVE IT! We seem to have more time to do things since we shut it off. We do have Netflix, but the kids seem to monitor themselves; usually they’ll watch one episode of something, then turn it off and do something else (play outside, read, color, etc.). And since we have both Netflix and the game consoles hooked up to our computer, they have to think long and hard about what they want to watch or play….which usually means they give up because they can’t agree and so they drift off to different activities.

    When they’re at their grandparents house, however, is another story, lol!


    • Natalie
      Sep 16, 2011 @ 09:05:13

      We have never had cable or anything like that. Every once in a while I think it would be nice to have Disney, Nick, HBO, TLC, etc., but then I remember how much I fight my boys on watching too much of the few basic TV channels we do have. I have thought about Netflix though. We may get that someday. But you’re right, when my boys go to my mom’s house they get their fill of Disney 🙂


  5. Angela Ward
    Sep 16, 2011 @ 08:23:38

    When my kids were growning up I neverl let them watch TV while getting ready for school. If I did they all would be sitting in front of it, not getting ready. That is how the TV got its name the “magnet box”. Right now Corley took the Dish system with him so all we have is netfix. On week nights we do really well of not watching everynight on the weekend nights it is a different story.


    • Natalie
      Sep 16, 2011 @ 09:06:24

      I’m going to start calling our TV the “magnet box” too! It sucks my kids right in! There may come a day when we don’t watch TV in the mornings either 🙂


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