Monday, March 23, 2009

TV Consumption

Child development experts recommend that children before the age of two should not watch television and after that they should only view up to two hours of television. This recommended two hours also includes any time spent on the computer. Kelly cleverly calls it "screen time" - meaning any time spent watching a screen.

Well, according to our poll most of you do well with these guidelines. Yay! Good for you!

Now let us ask: Do I?

Do you really want to know? Are you going to impeach me from the author panel if I tell you that ... no I do not?

Well really if you want to know. Some days we watch a half an hour or less, sometimes none! (yay...pat on the back) Most days we get 1 1/2 to 2 hours. Then there are days like today when it seems like my child has spent about 50% of the day glued to the set. While I was sick and pregnant with my second child, ALL I could do to entertain my oldest son was to turn on the TV and we watched it ALL day. So if I fudge it a little and say on AVERAGE we watch it two hours a day I guess it could sound like I am doing my job as a mom to carefully monitor my child's TV consumption.

BUT! Does all that really matter? Does it make a significant difference if I let my child watch 2 1/2 hours as opposed to just two hours? I know the benefits of limiting TV and the cons of excessive TV, but should we (by we I mean me) be coming down the stairs freaking out on our husbands who are trying to help us out by turning on the TV so we can get some more sleep since we were up late the night before or up with a baby all night, because it will eat into our child's precious TV time and if he has too much TV his brain will be mush and I will as a mother have failed?! Whew! Am I the only one who has been sucked into this crazy train of thought? Fortunately for me, I have an understanding and loving husband who gently caused me to pause and think reasonably about this and step off that (likely mostly sleep deprived) train.

I think if used wisely, TV can be a good thing.
I tried to teach my child his letters and the sounds they make. I could have been teaching him gibberish for all he cared until...Super Why and Word World came along. Now he prances around the house ALL day saying "ball starts with B, buh, buh, ball!" for almost every and any word. I credit...TV! It has been especially helpful since my son has dropped his nap. I no longer have the luxury of 2-3 hours to myself each day while my son visits slumberland. Plus. I like TV so why shouldn't he get to watch something for fun too? Excuse my rant. I just feel like TV gets a bad rap.

I should say that I also strongly promote that TV should be limited in content (very closely) and time (but not obsessively) because too much TV CAN stump creativity as well as a sense of reality, it can promote childhood obesity and physical inactivity, and sadly because of what is on some TV it can introduce them to topics beyond their years prematurely. YES, I know all that.

But is it really some evil monster that is going to eat your child up if he watches it too much? Heavens no...if you monitor it wisely!

Those are my two cents. I really want hear from you. What do YOU think?

What is your child's TV consumption like? How do you monitor it? What do you personally think is too much or do you follow the expert 2 hour standard?

What do you do to busy your child without the TV when you need to get something done?

Has your perspective on "screen time" changed as your children have dropped naps or gained siblings? What about when they have started school?

Do you agree with me on this topic? Why or why not?


JeriLynn said...

When I was in third grade, I decided I didn't want a tv when I grew up. I was grateful to find a man who agreed with me. We don't have any cable or even any local stations. But we do own a lot of movies. We've even purchaced old cartoon series (Thundercats, Robotech, etc.), and Liesl gets really excited for "Saturday Morning Cartoons", which is the only time she watches those.

Otherwise, I'm like Delia. Liesl watches one movie during her former nap time. On days when I'm desperate, or if she's earned an extra movie, I do let her watch more. I don't think four hours of tv on those days is going to melt my daughter's brain, but I'm pretty sure my husband thinks so. (j/k. sorta.) So we try to keep to the standards, and that's okay. The more she watches, the sooner she'll get bored of the movies we own!

JeriLynn said...

Now, on a different note, because I don't have tv to watch, when I do watch it, I am frequently shocked by it. I'm fairly certain that most who watch tv regularly grow desensitized to it if they're not careful. Commercials, especially, are corrosive, and they are one BIG reason I hate tv. Most commercials are aimed at children, and they can be very enticing. Not to mention, they can also be really mind-numbing and stupid, and I hate that. No thank you.

Tannie Datwyler said...

Can I just say, WAY TO GO DELIA! I was just sure that when you posted this you would be telling us all how you are amazing and Owen only watches 1/2 hour of TV per day. :) Thus bringing my "mommy guilt" up another notch. Thank you for being honest.

I have to agree with you in a lot of ways. If you need some time (you have a new baby, you are pregnant and SICK SICK SICK, or you just need a break) then I don't think there is ANYTHING wrong with letting your little one watch some TV. I know Claire and I watched way too much television when I was pregnant, but there was little I could do about it - I was so sick. I also know that when I come off a really rotten night I let her watch TV too much sometimes. I feel guilty about this sometimes, but not too much.

Claire watches about an hour of TV per day. It is pretty rare when she watches more than 2 hours (though this does happen sometimes). Do I keep a timer on it? NO! Does she sometimes watch 1 1/2 hours. YES! Do I think it makes that much difference? No.

When and why she watches TV has changed for us. Over the summer before Linus was born I let her watch 1/2 an hour while I showered after our walk, and then 1/2 an hour in the evening while I made dinner. Then for several months after Linus was born I used to have her watch half an hour in the morning while I nursed Linus and then half an hour in the afternoon while I nursed Linus (I just couldn't stand the hovering and how she would sometimes try to climb on me while I fed her brother - especially at the beginning when he was a super bad latcher).

Now it is changed again, because Linus' feeding schedule has changed and she is only awake with me while I feed him once (she is asleep in the morning or napping at the other daytime ones when Richard isn't here to distract her). So now she just watches one hour of TV straight in the morning while I read my scriptures and help Linus go back to sleep during his morning nap (silly kid doesn't always know when he should wake up from his nap - come on son - you are crying hysterically, you must still be tired!!)

I think that answers most of your questions. Yes my perspective has changed since Linus was born, ect. . . What do I do to busy her besides TV? I mentioned this before - I use ART time at the table (she usually does this while I feed her brother - I seriously have to get her out of my hair while I feed him it just makes me crazy).

I also have to agree with JeriLynn. I REALLY dislike having actual television stations. For the first two years of our marriage Richard and I didn't have cable or an anntanea or anything. Then, the olympics came (this is seriously the one thing I could - and do - watch for hours in a row). So we got cable specifically for that with the idea that we would get rid of it afterwards. Well, we never did get rid of it. So for 3 years after that I found myself progressively watching more. Especially on Wednesday nights when Richard was out at bishopric and Claire was asleep and I was alone. I started to watch stuff I didn't like MORALLY (though I was grossly obsessed). So, a year ago I said, that is enough! We were cutting our budget and I was tired of the TV being a pull on my time. SO we got rid of it again. Now, we have it once more, because it makes our internet and phone cheaper (stupid huh?) But I think we will just unplug the cable.

I also have to agree with Delia. PBS and KBYU have WONDERFUL programs. That is the one thing I miss a lot about not having channels. So here is how I solve this problem. I get my friends or SIL to record episodes of all the PBS cartoons. Claire watches them over and over and yes they do teach so much about letters and other good things. Claire also learned her letters and sounds primarily (with help from me of course) from a LEAPFROG movie. That is another good route to go. Now that we have televsion I think I'll just record some episodes for Claire anyway, because I like the option of pulling it out anytime she needs a cartoon that is good and worth watching to learn.

To sum up - I feel good about myself when I don't let my family watch television STATIONS, but I don't let myself feel guilty if we are watching movies or good learning cartoons off PBS. Whew! That was long, so sorry!

JeriLynn said...

Well said, Tannie. I like the idea of recording tv shows. Jay and I probably ought to invest money into some learning shows so that Liesl doesn't get bored with our movies, which she's already starting to do.

Now here's a question, how do we keep our babies from watching the tv our toddlers watch?

Tink said...

My oldest watched a lot of tv and videos when I was pregnant w/#2 and then while he was a newborn. He is intelligent and doesn't have any extra desire now at almost 9 to watch it most days. I'd say he watches once a week after school for a couple of hours. My third boy watched a lot of educational cartoons while I was pregnant w/#4 during my ENTIRE pregnancy because I was sick and on bedrest. And you know what, he's intelligent and doesn't ask me to watch tv ever. I have to offer to turn on Word World while I exercise every so often in the mornings. I watched a TON of tv as a kid. I watched all evening after school and all morning at my grandma's while my mom worked and all the time when we lived my grandma. And you know what? I have a Bachelor's Degree and don't feel like I have a mush brain. I don't even turn on the tv at night until the kids are going to bed. I have to admit, though that I probably watch for about 3-4 hours a night, depending on how late my insomnia keeps me up. I really don't think it's that big of a deal when your kids are outside riding bikes and playing baseball, etc. so they're getting the exercise they need to fight obseity.

On The Go Family said...

We decided when we first got married never to have cable TV. It's been a great thing for us! We get two or three stations (through snow) but watching them is a lot of work!

A few months ago I turned on a talk show one afternoon because they were discussing ways to save money. It was the first time the kids had ever seen actual TV (not videos) and they were MESMERIZED. I got so freaked out (about how into it they were) that I was muting the commercials and my daughter said, "This DVD is broken. Why does the sound keep skipping?" It was hilarious to realize she didn't even know what "tv" was.

As for videos ... the one main rule we have is no videos until after nap time. I find that the earlier we start watching, the more we end up watching. Having this rule helps the kids because even in their limited understanding of time, they can grasp that at some point in the day they'll get to watch something.

Length of watching varies by day, mood, season, etc. In the winters, I'd say we watch 1 to 2 hours a day. In the spring/summer/fall, many days pass where we don't watch any at all.

Do the best you can and give yourself a break on the days the kids watch more than ideal. Being sick during pregnancy, needing time alone to nurse a baby, needing time to make dinner, needing a moment to regroup, etc, are all great reasons to resort to (content-controlled) TV. And remember ... "Ideals are stars to steer by ... not sticks to beat ourselves with." (Barbara B. Smith, Ensign, March 1976)

Ben, Shauna, Cole & ? said...

I'm so glad this topic has come up, because it's been something that has been eating at me, making me feel like a bad mom.
Cole went through this time where he'd wake up at 5:30am, and would not go back to sleep, so then I'd put in a movie, and that way could still get some sleep! Now he's doing better at sleeping in, but now that's the routine, to watch a movie when he wakes up! Knowing that you shouldn't let them watch more than 2 hours a day, it's been tearing at me, to know he already filled his time of 'screen time' for the day! So then when other things come up, like doing dinner, or just needing a break, I've tried to come up with other options, but sometimes I have just given in, and will let him watch something else, but then the rest of the day I feel guilty, that he watched too much tv. So I feel a lot better knowing I'm not the only one in these type of situations.
I also agree with being able to have them learn from tv as well. I'll have to record some shows like it has been suggested, and have him watch those instead of the same old, same old movies that are getting boring to him as well! Thanks for the ideas, and topic!

Kara said...

I don't know how in the world kids only watch 2 hrs of T.V! plus the computer! I still wouldn't get anything done. If there is a kid friendly show on and their playing PBS computer games, I don't think there is anything wrong with it. T.V. and computer games are very educational. Yes I do think we need to spend time with our children daily and they need to spend time playing with toys and making up their own things daily, but if I was constantly planing things for him to do and constantly spending every hour with my kids I would get worn out and nothing would get done! Not only do I need a break from my kids, they need a break from me! I believe good monitoring is a must. Yes, it would be different if kids were watching inapropriate things and playing inapropriate games, then kids' minds will be corrupted. It doesn't hurt a child if he/she is on the computer and watching movies all day! not everyday, but admit there are those days! We need to help our children balance their time out, even if they have screen time half of the day (the time they are awake) I think 4-5 hrs of screen time a day is just fine :)

Jes said...

I agree with you Delia, and Tannie.

Now, granted, Addie is only 8 1/2 months old yet... but this is still something I worry about.

'I' personally hate most tv, and would much rather spend time playing games and reading and etc. Dan however watches a LOT of tv when he is home.... which means she is usually paying attention to it. I believe the less tv time, the better... but that doesnt mean Im against ANY tv time!

To make me feel better about it, I remind myself that at least we make sure its good/clean tv... as well as that she isnt 'babysat' by it.. the majority of her day (even when Dan is home and tv is on) she is either playing by herself or with me.
As she gets older I think it will be easier for me to keep her out of the tv room and occupied with other activities when Dan is watching it.
When I do need her preoccupied with something else here and there, I do let her watch PBS and KBYU... she LOVES Super Why and Worl World as well for a few minutes.. its funny how much she will laugh continuously at them!

As long as my children dont turn out like my younger brothers and a large part of the youth today who DEPEND on tv, video games, and internet for entertainment. Literally. Its SO bad in some situations (ie my little brothers!)I want my children to be active, outdoors, social, and involved in activities where they can learn and better themselves and both use and stimulate their creativity/imaginations!, lol if you too feel you need to justify it or just need a reminder that youre NOT a failing mother just because your kid(s) have watched an extra half hour or so of tv.. youre ok, at least theyre not 'depending' on it!! :)

Megan said...

I've been thinking about this all day long and realize that Lucas probably watches too much tv, already at 1 years old! Lately I have been trying to do better and since, until today, the weather has been nice we have been spending more time outside. However, I do notice that if he is awake and I absolutely have to have a shower, or do something else, I really do depend on TV to keep him occupied. Granted, it is always an educational movie. But, I've resolved to try and do even better because like the above comment stated, I don't want my son to become depended on devices with a screen for all his fun and stimulation.

Tannie Datwyler said...

Jes I can't agree with you more. Although I think some screen time is fine, I am not okay with it becoming a mainstay of my children's entertainment. My parents have let my brothers spend a lot of time on the computer and xbox playing games. They don't do it as much now, but a few years ago I was constantly annoyed by their screen time. I think that is why I limit Claire's time to one hour per day.

I will reiterate what I said above though - watching wholesome TV is not bad. It is epecially useful during rough spots of the day or for toddlers who don't nap (we all still need some alone time). I really do think we should be senitive to how much though, because it can get out of hand quickly.

Kelly A. said...

My daughter is only 16 months, so I try to limit her TV to half an hour a day. It is easier said than done on some days, but there are also many days when we don't watch TV at all. My dear husband introduced our little one to cartoons and she does enjoy them, but since she is still young I rather her watch something more 'educational' for her age. She LOVES the Baby Signing Time DVD's so on days when she does watch TV, that is what I put in. I am sure things will change as she gets older, but for now that totally works. I agree that the content of what children are watching is important and I am glad that there are good shows on channels like PBS and KBYU for older kids. To answer your other ?, when I am trying to cook dinner, she likes to play in our drawer full of Tupperware lids or with her fridge magnets.

Jared and Delia said...

This is not totally serious but, one way to get your preschooler to not want to turn on the TV. Throw your back out and watch it from sun up to sun down until he is deathly SICK of it. I did that and now I will ask if he wants to watch a show and he says, "NO!" Can you believe it? Ha ha. :) It has been two weeks too...still working most of the time.

Kelly A. said...

Ha Ha, Delia :) So glad you are feeling better! But yes, when you or your kids are sick, things totally change! I know we had much more screen time than usual when our daughter had her sinus infection!

Forward With Fun and Faith said...

This topic is somewhat of a soap box for me, but I don't want everyone to think that I am crazy! =0)

I dislike where the "media" has gone in general. I grew up never watching TV or having cable. When my husband and I got married TV wasn't a priority so we have never had it. I can remember going to visit family and sitting down to watch abc family to pass sometime and being absolutely applaud at what I saw on just the commercials. While media can be used for good things there is definitely a lot of desensitizing evil on it!

The only time we watch TV is when I am getting a shower in the mornings. And that is usually 30 min of an educational/age appropriate video (BLUES CLUES ABC or Little Bear).Otherwise it is a rare/special occasion when we do.

I totally agree and practice what others have said about having desperate occasions (being sick with my 2nd pregnancy or if my kids or I am sick).

I know that there are days that I would love to just pop in a movie to pass the time, especially in the winter when we can't do as much. But, when we do I personally to not feel as fulfilled and know that there are better things to do with our time.

I agree with the experts! I also know that children are not able to totally distinguish reality on television until the age of 8. Not that we shouldn't let our kids watch tv until they are 8 but I just found it interesting.

There was a point when I thought the only way I could get things done was to stick my son in front of the tube. I got so sick of doing it and realized one day that he can keep himself just as occupied playing with his toys. I had just never given him the chance to keep himself entertained without my assistance.

Since I have gained another child I have found that I have less time for TV in general, but more of a need for it to keep my oldest occupied and my youngest with me while I get ready/showered.