Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Admiring TV-free families

After reading The Read Aloud Handbook by Jim Trelease, I am thinking again about limiting or eliminating our family's TV time. Trelease says in his book that kids can handle a maximum 8 hours a week before their education test scores begin to decline. My boys are still very young (ages 2 and almost 4) and I am afraid to track how much television we watch -- it's a lot. This is one of the failures of my parenting -- it started innocently enough.... we began watching Signing Time sign language educational videos (which are wonderful and I still love them so much), and then catching a few half hour episodes of kids programming...... but it has snowballed. We have a DVR and so Curious George (another family favorite) is always easily accessible -- probably much more available than it should be.

In high school, two of the smartest kids I knew were siblings who had no TV at home. They were both very intelligent (the oldest was accepted to MIT for college), and though I don't know what they did with their time, I'm quite sure they were avid readers. I really have no doubt that my children will be smarter and healthier if we watch less.

At these ages, it's so much more about my willpower than the kids'. We use television as a parenting crutch, and while I think we might be reducing our overall viewing, it's not easy. We tend to watch first thing in the morning (particularly if the kids are up early) and before bed (but we still read after that). I should be doing more reading with the kids in place of watching television, and the kids do play more when it is turned off. Last night we went to the library, which was wonderful, but my oldest wanted to check out a Thomas DVD, and we did... I have heard it might be best to go cold turkey but I don't know if I've got the strength. My excuse right now is that we have a newborn coming very soon and I think I *need* the TV while we are re-adjusting as a family and I am alone with two toddlers and a newborn. However, I really, really want to significantly reduce our viewing... I think it's important. I'm just weak.

Is your family tv-free or do you limit television?


Mary H. said...

We are working towards being more strict with the television. Right now I only allow PBS because I can't stand commercials. However, movies tend to be our downfall, we watch a lot of movies.

Anonymous said...


we are tv free, and have been for over 2 years, and I'll tell you some days its really hard not to have the tv as a crutch. my ds uses the computer to play games, and that basically takes the place of tv. But i think he is doing a lot of other activities that he wouldnt be doing if we had tv. :)

I sorta miss it though, esp during football and World Series Seasons :)

Karen said...

It is tough, and I realize it's me so much more than the kids. A large part of it is that I need to reduce my computer time.