TV… or not TV?

TV… or not TV?  That is the question that many parents ask, especially those parents like me who have young children and have total control over this aspect of their lives.  Most people watch way too much TV, I think.  Not necessarily because TV is a bad thing in and of itself, but because TV takes up a lot of time that could be spent on other enriching activities that would be better for anyone’s soul.  Many studies point out that kids who have more trouble in school often watch more TV, but to say that there is a causal relationship between TV watching and school performance is bogus, in my mind.  What is more important to school performance is someone helping the child with their schoolwork and a kid who watches five hours of TV a day probably does not spend a lot of time with someone going over their schoolwork.  A child who watches five hours a day of TV is not getting enough exercise either and that could affect their development in and out of school.  And a child who watches five hours a day of TV is not getting enough stimulation from books, doing art or even listening to music, I mean, there just isn’t enough time in the day to do everything if all the time is spent in front of the boob tube… so what to do?  The TV is so tempting an activity for the kids because it gives us parents a chance to relax and let go of the parenting for a little while, we can go cook dinner, or put the dishes away, fold some laundry, or God forbid, put our feet up and take a little catnap!  The kids are quiet, the siblings are not fighting, it is miraculously peaceful when the TV is on!!!  It takes a lot of effort to entertain children and TV makes it easy, what a guilty pleasure for parents who are desperate for a little peace and quiet.  For this reason I find that even the most die hard parents who are against TV relent every now and then when they are in a pinch and need the kids to just sit still and be quiet for half hour or so.

Our own approach to TV is one of moderation.  It basically boils down to us letting them watch about an hour or so of TV a few days a week.  Every third day is Spanish day when we troll the cable channels for kids’ shows that are dubbed in Spanish.  (That’s help ease some of my guilt in allowing them to watch the idiot box)  There a few more rules that we follow in terms of the television:  I don’t allow the kids to watch TV when their friends come over our house for a playdate  for two reasons.  One, every parent seems to have a different outlook on TV watching and I don’t want to step on any toes, and secondly, the kids are entertaining themselves and therefore they don’t need TV to serve as entertainment.  Another rule is that if they cry when I am turning off the TV then they lose their TV privileges for the next time.  That works pretty well.  Another rule is that they are not allowed to argue over which shows to watch, but that invites a whole other drama that I’ll have to save for our next episode…



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