17 different women, 36 crazy children, 0 babies in utero
Adventures, Advice and Questions from a group of Mormon women who met in Queens, NY and have now scattered all over the place.

Monday, August 04, 2008

Please Advise....TV be gone?

I met a family with 3 sons age 4 to 11. They were the kindest little boys. They got along with each other so well, and had a great energy between each other and with their Dad, who they called: "Papa." Stop it....so adorable.

Not to mention the fact that they are physically beautiful, as seen here with the oldest of the three darlings.

I got to know these boys over a few days of working together and I took away a little parenting tidbit from conversing with them.

No TV allowed Monday through Friday. Only tv shows were allowed on weekends. And I've got to assume that, being boys and a tight-knit family and all, that they probably fill up their weekends with activities other than tv viewing.

I am considering adding the no tv rule to our household. Since I already do not allow tv (home videos and church videos aside) on Sunday, this will leave only Saturday for tv, and we are usually out doing something on Saturday, so that further reduces the tv situation.

I do not believe that tv is a necessity or an essential to really anyone's life, but it is a PART of our life. My children wake up and try to wake us up, and since we don't want to wake up at 5:45, we have finally installed a clock and the rule is that they cannot leave their rooms until 6. Well guess what, we really don't want to be up at 6 either. (I wake up at 6 several mornings a week to workout, but I don't want to talk to anyone or make anyone breakfast) So....our little ones have a habit that goes like this...wake up, try to wake mom and dad up, instead go and turn on the tv and watch a show over breakfast and while waiting for mom and dad to finally be awake!

TV for any other part of the day usually happens when I am trying to make dinner. This year though, my 1st grader will have homework and that will probably be the homework time, not the tv time. My younger one rarely to never asks to watch tv. She has never been as into it as my older one....so I am only worried about the older one's reaction to the new rule.

I still have the early-rising kink to work out and the question of DVD's allowed? Or...should there be an earning system....like-read for half hour and then you can watch a DVD for a half hour?

Anyway, am I totally crazy for wanting this rule? Any ideas on how I can get this to work? Will I be depriving my children of the necessary pop culture that they need to survive on the playground? Please....advise.....


  • I have developed a testimony this summer of limited TV. Our new rule (which works MOST of the time) is learning time first (workbooks, letters, story writing because our kids are nearly 4 and 5) and once that is finished 30 minutes of TV. I try to keep TV to 1 hour a day at the most.

    Sundays we usually watch something together as a family - a movie, the "Planet Earth" series and lately, recordings of "X Games" (what can I say, we like our extreme sports).

    We have moved away from TV in the mornings because I have noticed that it sets a really bed tone for the day (there is something about TV that educates children in immediacy - "I want it RIGHT NOW - because they learn that they can "click" their way through numerous programs - I HATE that).

    The overall tone of our house and happiness of our kids just improves so much when the TV isn't on. And truly, they don't miss it.

    I fully support you :)
    posted by Blogger Chloe at 8/04/2008 03:01:00 PM  

  • I was raised without a TV and it made me a TV addict.

    However, I do notice a difference *ahem* between the two older who had no TV and the two younger ones who did have TV. The two of us raised without much TV (we simply didn't have one and couldn't afford to get one) are much greater readers than the other two.

    After we got a TV we had some rules: we each got 30 minutes of TV a day. We could choose to watch whatever we wanted for our 30 minutes, and we didn't have to watch the same thing. I could watch the news, and the younger could watch some Sesame Street. However, I think this worked because we had a tiny little TV and the person getting the 30 minute turn would put on headphones.

    Haha, that makes me laugh just thinking about it.
    "But this is MY 30 minutes! You already watched The Monkees!"

    In full disclosure I always did feel a little left out at school because I couldn't talk about what happened on A-Team last night, etc., but I turned out smarter than those kids.

    posted by Blogger Azúcar at 8/04/2008 03:06:00 PM  

  • Along the lines with Azucar, I'd have to say be careful about the "no TV" rule.

    I had friends that would only play with us/come over to our house to watch our TV because their parents wouldn't let them watch TV during the week.

    We're huge movie buffs in our family, and so I do remember growing up watching movies together as a family (and on Sundays, too! I know!). And cartoons on Saturday. And an occasional sitcom during the week (Cosby Show anybody?). And we all did well in school and went to college.

    However, I think putting limits on the TV is still a good thing. It can't be a free for all whenever and however and whatever, right? So I think you are wise, kage, to want to control what TV your kids are exposed to. But look at your system. Does it work? Are your girls happy? Maybe those 3 boys you saw get easily aggressive or aggravated when they watch TV. Maybe they used to watch a lot more TV and it didn't work so they are cutting back? It would be interesting to know why they chose to go that route.

    Me? I don't have set absolutes, but when I say "TV off!" the kids immediately turn off the TV. They can't watch before breakfast or Church, during meals, or before bed (usually).

    Anyway, I'd suggest something other than an immediate No TV M-F smackdown --it just seems kind of jolting. But reducing slowly? Sure! Good luck with whatever you decide, though...
    posted by Blogger Cheryl at 8/04/2008 04:00:00 PM  

  • GUYS....I know...this is dilemic (is that a word).....and it's getting worse deciding, and I have only read 3 responses! AH!
    posted by Blogger Kage at 8/04/2008 04:35:00 PM  

  • Sounds like this family is smart- and limited TV is helping them stay healthy and happy. Growing up, we were never allowed to watch TV on school nights. We also didn't watch it Sundays except for church videos or home videos. I look back and realize how GOOD this rule was for us. It gave us plenty of playtime to use our imaginations, read good books, study hard, and enjoy the outdoors with friends!

    TV for my kids is a privilege and is not allowed until their rooms are clean and homework is done. However, I find that my kids don't even like to watch too much TV anyway. They are always busy with sports, activities, and friends. It is SO much easier to have limited TV during the summertime since we do so many outdoor activities, but I find it is a little harder in the winter time. This means we have to be extra creative when it's cold outside- like invite friends over, play games, and have more story time.

    I think limiting TV for your kids is a wonderful idea. No TV at all might be a little hard to stick to- especially when little ones are extra tired or sick. But I agree with Chloe- too much TV sets a really bad tone for the family with grouchy, impatient kids!

    Good luck! (By the way, I love to read the Tales blog and learn about other mom's ideas and experiences- thanks for telling me about it, Kage!)
    posted by Blogger LJ at 8/04/2008 04:57:00 PM  

  • I think if you think you may want to, you should cut it out. I was raised without a TV for years and years. When we had a TV we were only allowed to watch one episode of Sesame Street.
    I thought I was picked on and decided my kids would have TV. What I've found is that when they watch TV they become different creatures--not in a good way--even if they only are watching for 1 hour a day. We cut out TV M-F and I feel like my twins interact better with eachother and the rest of their family. They are more creative and our family feels more deliberate and peaceful.
    Go for it. You can always reintroduce or change your mind later.
    posted by Blogger Aurelie at 8/04/2008 06:35:00 PM  

  • Before I say anything, I have to warn you that the ills of TV is one of my most extreme pet topics...indeed, I have a bumper sticker on my car that says "Kill Your Television."

    So. That said.

    I grew up watching cartoons like a zombie until I was 11 or so, at which point my parents inexplicably and without warning pulled the plug. As in cold turkey -- totally discontinued, no channels, no nothing. We did have movies, though, and watched a lot of those.

    DH and I have made the same decision -- no channels, but we love movies. At this point we have one child who is 11 mos, so I can't give a direct opinion on your dilemma (sorry!). What I CAN tell you is that I think my life is better for not having TV both as a child and as an adult. It forces me to find more creative ways to use my time, and it gives us more time to strengthen our family relationships. DH had a co-worker who honestly couldn't understand why we wouldn't have TV and asked incredulously, "What do you do when you go home? Talk to your WIFE??" Well... yeah!
    posted by Blogger A. at 8/04/2008 07:20:00 PM  

  • P.S. I think there was an idea about this in the back part of the Ensign a couple of months back, but I can't remember the specifics. It seemed like a good idea, whatever it was.
    posted by Blogger A. at 8/04/2008 07:21:00 PM  

  • I'm not sure what my parents did when I was a toddler/preschooler, but for as long as I can remember, we weren't allowed to watch TV on school nights. So Friday through Sunday, we did. Back then I taped my favorite shows on the VCR to watch on the weekend--and then of course had to live in fear of my parents walking in to watch it with me and look over at me and roll their eyes at questionable scenes, which they often did. They were also pretty strict about the types of stuff we could watch in the first place--no "Friends," for instance, which was probably a good idea. I still watched some borderline-trashy-humor stuff at friends' houses but it stayed out of my parents' home which, I think, influenced the spirit felt there.

    Sundays we weren't really supposed to watch anything but G/PG movies, church movies, etc. We also weren't supposed to watch TV or movies on Saturdays until our chores were done.

    The only exception to the weeknight TV that I can remember was the occasional Laker game for my dad (which we could also watch). We didn't especially have limits on computer time, but the Internet wasn't as prevalent then (mid-late 90s), so I think we would now.

    Also, in the summertime there was a rule about 1 hour of reading = 1/2 hour of TV time.

    I chafed under those rules sometimes, and I certainly cheated when I was in HS and my parents weren't home or I was at a friend's house.

    But now, although I do have a few favorite shows, I am not much of a TV person--in fact, I recently persuaded my husband to toss our TV (for aesthetic reasons mainly--small living room and bulky, old TV), and we got a tuner for our computer instead. It's so much more work to watch TV on the computer now that we hardly ever watch it unless there's a specific show we want to watch (even then, there's a DVR in the setup so we often go days, sometimes weeks). It's also less of a temptation to let my son watch it, although he never seems very interested anyway (he's only 19 months old).

    I think DH would be more on board if it weren't for sports. In the fall, it's all football all the time, and then there's March Madness and the NBA playoffs in the spring.

    I think some moderation is good. I'd suggest letting them watch a show you allow in the a.m. while you sleep, and then in the evening, have your older daughter do homework while your younger one does whatever she does. You could still allow Friday afternoons/evenings, and Sunday churchy movie stuff. Or, you could still allow M-F TV but only a set amount, like 30 minutes.

    I think it's a good idea to limit it. TV is great in some ways but it's easy to get carried away. My mom who is a teacher points out that she has noticed that her students over the last decade increasingly need a visual component to their learning, and they take their own mental "commercial breaks."
    posted by Blogger Eliza at 8/04/2008 07:43:00 PM  

  • I go in waves of tv control for my kids. By the end of last school year and as summer started, I was particularly lazy about it(I blame the new baby).

    But, when I noticed Princess' behavior was becoming ever more sassy at the beginning of the summer, I had renewed determination to take better control of the tv.

    Our rule became no shows except for Sesame Street off the tivo in the morning. Then the tv goes off. I thought Princess would have a cow because she had recently fallen in love with all things Disney Channel (thus the sassiness). But, she was totally fine with it. I was a little surprised. Because they know the rule, they turn off the tv themselves and easily transition into a different activity.

    Some days we watch more, but it's mainly the Food Network - we love ("Challenge" and Iron Chef) which we watch together while I feed the baby.

    Movies get popped in on occasion too. But now that school has started for us, there isn;t much time to watch the tube. Princess would rather play with friends after school. As for Pumpkin, she usually gets to watch one Signing Time when she wakes up from her nap while sister is at school. Unless it is my sewing day and then she gets to watch tv all day long if that is what keeps her happy and quiet. :)

    Definitely set a tv schedule. Less is better, but none might make you want to shoot off your own foot.
    Good Luck!
    posted by Blogger TftCarrie at 8/04/2008 08:09:00 PM  

  • I grew up w/o a TV. I don't know how my mom did it! We have a TV in our home - I couldn't survive w/o it to make dinner, take a shower, etc.

    If you are interested, there's a great book - Into the Minds of Babes - that examines the evidence on how TV affects babies and young kids.
    posted by Anonymous Anonymous at 8/04/2008 08:11:00 PM  

  • The short answer - get rid of it.

    The longer answer - I grew up with TV, DH was a tv-a-holic as a kid. Both of us didn't really have time for it in college and then when we got married, we never bought one. 8 years and 2 kids later, we still don't have one and we have never missed it.

    My m-i-l was worried that the kids needed to watch Sesame Street, but we found a great website (http://starfall.com). Check it out - it's fabulous for reading and has no ads.

    Kids (our kids) get plenty of pop culture at friends' homes, from preschool, and occasional movies.

    There is also a lot of the good tv stuff online: BYU-TV has all kinds of stuff to stream and it's all free, and there are tons of language-learning videos, etc, all on the web.
    posted by Blogger Mrs. M at 8/04/2008 08:59:00 PM  

  • We have no TV connection. It was hard to get used to at first, but we have come to find that we really don't miss it, and my kids do a lot more reading and creative play because of it, methinks. And I do think it helps keep contention down.

    We do have movies, so it's not like the tube is completely nixed and there are days when I'm not feeling good or something where movies are pulled out more, and that's not all bad to have, imo. This way, though, we can control the content (without it controlling us, if we are careful). We can also control the time. (We have some 30 minute shows that come out sometimes when I need a moment or they want a little break, but we don't want the time drain of a full show.)

    We also can control the timing. It's so easy to get tied to the time of day when your fave show is on...it's easy for life to revolve around it.

    I say that because I remember wasting so much time as a kid revolving my life around the TV, and even as an adult, when we did have it, I had my shows that I didn't want to miss...like I went into withdrawal when I decided I needed to stop. (And I really didn't watch much!)

    My sis does some TV but pays for TiVo so they can have more control, fewer ads, and flexibility with the timing. So there are different ways of approaching it.

    My advice, though, is to pray about it. I don't think there is One Right Answer to this. Find out what will work for your family and trust in that. :)
    posted by Blogger m&m at 8/04/2008 11:50:00 PM  

  • My best girlfriend was raised Hare Krishna and they had no tv as well! She's 33 now, and in some respects I noticed it as being a positive thing, like ie she's very creative, industrial designer now, ect..., but sometimes (no offense to her, thank god she'll never read this) she can be kind of dense. And I noticed because she lacked some material possessions through growing up, she is kind of really into them now, like ie nice car, fancy clothes, ect!!!! So sometimes the parents that limit something near to none can send the kids into another frenzy to go the other way!!!!??? I don't know though, really... But your kids seem beautiful and wonderful, tv or not...
    posted by Anonymous vicki at 8/05/2008 04:30:00 AM  

  • Okay, okay. I'll be the voice of dissent. ;)

    I like watch TV. No, scratch that, I *love* watching TV. My children also love watching TV. So does my husband. I make no apologies for it.

    But we also love reading. I've already read 75 new books this year, and that doesn't count old favorites that I've re-read. (I can point the way to my Goodreads profile if you'd like to read my reviews.) During the summer we make at least three trips a week to the library. Both of my girls are on the Honor Roll at school. In fact, my oldest was one of the Top 10 AR readers in her grade last year, and won a trip to an amusement park as a result. I could go on and on, but then it would just be unseemly bragging. ;D

    My point is this- TV is just another form of entertainment. And like any other form of entertainment, it *can* be abused and misused. I teach preschool (4 year olds) and let me tell you my LEAST favorite time of year is T-Ball season. These kids have practice and games a few nights of the week, and they come dragging in the next day, practically falling asleep. I appreciate the fact that they are getting exercise, interacting with friends, etc. But too much is still too much.

    That isn't to say that we don't have TV guidelines in our house, because we do. During the school year, the TV doesn't come on in the morning until breakfast is done, children are dressed, teeth are brushed, hair is done, lunches in backpacks, and beds are made. In the afternoon, the TV doesn't come on until homework is done, and then it's only on for an hour or so.

    We also don't turn on the TV on Sundays. And during the summer, I've been known to say "No TV for the next 3 hours" or whatever arbitrary rule I feel like making. ;) But do I stress myself out worrying about how many hours we're watching? No. It's pointless.

    We are a happy, well-rounded, well-read social family. I'm constantly amazed at the different forms of creative and imaginative play my girls come up with (and that's only because I don't consider myself very creative ;D).

    I think it's much more important to teach self-control and balance, rather than placing automatic restrictions. As much as I loved watching TV, by the time I was in high school I had learned that if I wanted to make it through a day which started at 5 AM of early morning seminary, school, soccer practice/games and/or musical theatre rehersals (depending on the season) homework, YW/time with friends/dates/etc, then I would have to in bed by 10 PM at the latest. The only exception I gave myself was Thursday nights, where I stayed up until 11 PM so I could watch "ER". ;)

    I've noticed my girls already doing this for themselves- choosing to go to bed a little earlier and not watching TV because of a test the next day.

    Now that I've written a novel-length reply, I'll just say quit feeling any guilt over it. You want to sleep in? Let them watch TV! You want to have some peace and quiet? Turn off the TV! What works one day might not work another. Just don't sweat it.
    posted by Blogger The Sauls Family at 8/05/2008 05:45:00 AM  

  • When I was a kid, we had a "two show" limit (and all shows used to be 30 minutes) per weekday and/or night. This was good because it was a hard and fast limit, and it forced my sister and I to "plan" our TV watching. If we used up our two shows after school, that meant we couldn't watch anything after dinner, etc.

    As an adult, however, I watch a LOT of TV, and mostly because DH is a TV addict--both shows and sports, which are on 365 days a year, and which drive me INSANE. I also think it's interesting to note how little he enjoys reading...probably because there is ALWAYS something to be watched instead.

    So, I would say, whatever rule you set, make sure that you and DH can also adhere to the same type of rule structure, or deal with the consequences of your kids commenting on your TV watching compared to theirs. (That being said, I know you are NOT a TV addict, so this might not be a big deal for you.) I think I will have difficulty getting DH to tone down the sports watching so that our kids won't constantly be exposed to the TV being on and the SOUND (which is the worst part, in my opinion).

    Let us know what you decide!
    posted by Blogger HHRose at 8/05/2008 08:19:00 AM  

  • My husband and I don't have cable, so we don't really watch much TV. We do have netflix, so we usually always have a movie or a TV series we can watch. I find myself going through phases, sometimes I'll be into a certain TV show (after its out on DVD), sometimes I'm really into reading, sometimes my husband and I will record and work on music, sometimes its a video game, sometimes its crossword puzzles, sometimes its cooking.

    For me, TV and the endless supply of channels and shows is too distracting and I have a hard time moderating it (as proven when I'm at a hotel and stay up super late amazed at reality tv and late night shows). But thats just me and everyone is different. And I'm sure I'll probably be reconsidering when we have kids, but I hope to stick to our ideal of no cable.

    Good luck in whatever you decide.
    posted by Blogger tamrobot at 8/05/2008 10:57:00 AM  

  • There is a children's picture book out there called "The Wretched Stone" by Chris Van Allsburg. Check it out and then see what you think about TV.
    posted by Blogger delilas at 8/05/2008 06:58:00 PM  

  • we're a "no tv" family. we have a tv, but don't get any channels in on it. we have a small collection of dvd's and the kids are allowed to watch those if they ask first. no commercials, no marketing ploys, no endless supply of visual stimulation, and so on. i wouldn't have it any other way. i notice a huge difference between my kids and their peers and i think tv (or lack thereof) has at least a small part in that.

    and my kids still know pop culture stuff, though they think ANY tween-ish looking girl is hannah montana! i never have to deal with them begging for things they see on tv, food or toy alike. while all of her friends were having hannah montana and barbie parties, my five year old wanted a "bookworm party." SO cute! sure, they watch movies sometimes, but those are more of a novelty and we try to keep them for a family activity. they like old musicals and "planet earth." mostly, they play inside or out, look at books, color, and IMAGINE all day long.

    i say give it a shot and see what you think. it'll save you a few bucks, to boot!
    posted by Anonymous makakona at 8/06/2008 08:14:00 AM  

  • just a little funny read that's related that I think you'll enjoy - at Light Refreshments Served
    posted by Blogger marian at 8/06/2008 02:33:00 PM  

  • Hey I just blogged about my "NO TV" summer experiment. I read about every book I could get my hands on that has to do with children and TV. My main determination was...very young children (under 2) should watch NO TV. That mean's NO MOVIES, NO INTERNET, NO TV. No BABY MOZART.
    I too have very early rising girls, and rely on TV to buy me some peace and sanity in the morning. I give Addie a timer (she's 4) and she gets 1 hour on her timer. She can watch it all at once in the morning or watch half an hour in the morning and save the other half for later. That includes movies and video games/computer games. The main thing I realized after reading my stack of tv and children literature is that it's not TV that affects kids, it's SCREEN TIME. Limiting all screen time to an hour a day for us has worked out really well.
    posted by Blogger Amelia at 8/07/2008 05:58:00 AM  

  • Carrie, dh and I just talked about that exact rule. I'm 95% sure we're going to implement it come the first day of school. It was his rule growing up, so I know he can support it. We might have a dinner-time exception for an hour, we shall see. Good luck!
    posted by Blogger Katie at 8/20/2008 02:02:00 PM  

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