Question: How much was the TV on in your home? Sometimes I feel like it hinders family bonding in the evenings, but I also understand the need to unwind and decompress from a busy day. Did you set any rules or limits on TV in the evenings? My children are 10, 8, 5, and 3. I do think the hardest one to convince on less TV is my husband though ;)
Brianne (and Spencer)
We didn't have time limits but no TV during family dinner, family home evening, or nightly story time.
What was different then was we were all watching the same TV together, usually pretty good stuff (even sitcoms taught ok lessons back then) and we could talk about the show. There wasn't an endless supply of channels so when the 5:00 news came on the kids were done, There might be 1hrs worth of stuff in the evening they liked. I didn't have to end TV time. The kids watched most of their TV in the kitchen while I cooked, cleaned, ironed right there with them-
Nowdays I think I'd just have Net Flix and still try to be around, and I guess with an endless supply of shows - I'd have to plan something to interrupt TV. Maybe play a hand of cards or get out the art supplies after the 2nd show and spend 15 minutes with them. That would be alot easier than just shutting off their entertainment and saying go find something else to do. After a few minutes of positive attention the next transitions would be to help me, or go play.
Marsha (and Richard)
I am not a TV watcher but my husband is. In fact, in an effort to limit the television watching in our home we have several times gone for long periods of time without a TV because it was just too much temptation for him. I know many men have that challenge. They come home in the evenings or weekends and they want to shut out all their employment concerns. It is a way of relaxation for them. For me, it is a distraction and interferes with my goals in the home.
The TV was not usually on in the mornings. Our children liked to play outside and enjoyed physical activity. We did not have DVR’s or cable TV so they were stuck with whatever happened to be on at the time. We rarely watched it during the school week. In the evenings we would tune into a favorite show once or twice but it didn’t’ dominate our lives. One reason the children didn’t watch much TV is that usually on Saturday afternoons when it was on, it was tuned to something my husband enjoyed. If that wasn’t something the children wanted to watch, they found other things to do.
Children had to have their “jobs” done before they could play, so when they finished working, they usually had plans with friends. We didn’t have TV games like Nintendo until later years and then it was a very simple version. They did play some of those games at friend’s houses. Again, we had a big back yard and lots of children so it was easy to find playmates and to be active. We lived in a neighborhood where children were around and ready to play. During the school year evenings were taken up with homework, etc. and during the summer, there were trips, some camps, swim team and swimming activities throughout the day. We had a “quiet time” after lunch for a couple of hours where the children came in our of the heat and played games, read or watched TV. When it was over, about 2 p.m. they were ready to go out and play once again.
I really think the parents are the prime examples in TV watching. We only had one TV and it was in the basement. If anyone wanted to watch TV he went to the basement. I do know that in order to get help with dinner, etc. the TV had to be turned off. Whenever we didn’t have TV there was far more family interaction and everyone was more inclined to be helpful. It makes a lot of difference.
We’ve never had a TV in the bedroom or the kitchen, only in the basement, away from the center of family activity. That has worked well for us.
Samantha and Thomas
We used the TV mostly for Sesame Street weekdays and movies on the weekend. Never during meals! It was off on Sunday, except for what we called "Sunday Movies"--Disney and inspirational stuff.
We tried not to use it as a babysitter, but occasionally it was necessary. Very little prime time stuff because it's so unpredictable standards-wise. Unwind time was after the kids were in bed, and we could go in our room and shut the door for some peace and quiet.
For a time we had a TV in our great room, but we found it was on too much. So we moved it to a side room that was close enough mom could hear and see it from the kitchen, but out of the way so the kids didn't like it, since it was away from the action.
The key is having other things to do--creative play (house, cowboys, star wars, etc), puzzles that take awhile, art stuff, piano, helping in the kitchen. It takes a while for kids to learn how to create their own "play" but they'll do it, if they don't have the TV for fall back.
Jane (and Samuel)
We always limited TV! Even had special cord plug ins that we hid. . The kids managed to find ways around our efforts...such as creating their own TV "keys". I am certain much more TV was watched after I went back to school and work. We only had one TV and that was in the Family Room. We never watched TV during meals. We had few video games....so kids went to their friends homes who were not as strict about TV as we were. That meant we had even less knowledge of what they were watching. My husband was too busy to watch much TV so that was not an issue. My children use "Media Time as a reward for accomplishing chores and practicing. I think that they use the technology well.
Karen and Lance
Didn't do a lot of monitoring as the children had a big yard to play in when they were younger and as they aged they had good friends. We had a 10 foot pool for them to invite their friends to use with them. They would rather play there than go to their friends homes that did have built in pools. Their friends preferred to come to our house for the pool. There wasn't that much on at that time to limit them in those days, 50's, 60's. Now we would have a lot more control. Out daughter allows 2 hours per day of TV during the school week, depending on the program. Homework was first and then TV or whatever. She really encouraged them to read. We did have FHE on Monday and since we had 5 boys, we were mostly watching games in the summer and too tired to watch TV that much. Try to keep them busy and "wear" them out during the day. If they are bored the TV or games are very tantalizing. When they are young they require more attention and fun times.
Abigail (and Martin)
We were very busy and didn’t have a lot of time for television. I have noticed however, that programs today are not like programs when my children were young. We allowed some PBS shows and a few selected “fun” programs like, “Boy Meets World,” and “Full House.” Occasionally, we would watch a rented movie. In fact, Friday night was movie night and my husband could have the kids guess the movie, or made some sort of game about choosing from two different movies, sight unseen.
These days, I have been dismayed, and even shocked at some of the messages and themes in programs today. I overheard a topic on a show on the Disney channel that my seven year old grandson had on that seemed very “adult.” I think the tV was just on and I’m pretty sure he wasn’t really paying attention, but I was surprised that it was on what might be considered a ‘Kids” show. I’ve been told that that particular channel is geared more for young teens, but I still felt the topic was inappropriate. My husband and I have felt compelled to stop watching series that we have enjoyed as the topics, themes and content have been somewhat crass and unsuitable. It was always a sign when our teenage son walked into the room and I felt the need to mute the program that it was time to stop watching it.
All in all, I don’t think TV is all bad, but it should be monitored and limited. There are lots of other fun things to do to relax then sit in front of a screen.
Next week's question: How did you help your kids successfully make it through the pivotal early teen years (about age 12-15)?