TV Philosophy

I’m not a huge TV person. Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE my Kardashians and Project Runway, but besides having the television on CNN most of the day, I don’t actively watch it very often. We always agreed not to have a TV in our bedroom –it disturbs the peaceful vibe and a distraction from.. other things- and it’s worked out well for our little family. So even though I’m not much of a TV person now, that’s not to say I wasn’t when I was younger. My little bro and I were SUCKED IN to that thing.

image Source

We each had our own TV and would spend hours watching our shows. I’m going to go ahead and date myself here, but we grew up with all of the TGIF faves (Step by Step and Boy Meets World FTW) and the Nick and Disney cartoons (David the Gnome, Lil Bits, Gummi Bears, Duck Tales.. it goes on and on). It’s funny because I have no idea what the popular kids cartoons and shows are now, especially since I don’t teach dance anymore, but from what I remember, if it’s anything like it used to be, most of it is intellectual garbage. We hardly watched educational shows –when the Schoolhouse Rock song started playing, I’d immediately change the channel- and preferred our cartoony fluff. My mom would monitor what we watched, so I was seriously excited when I spent the night at my friend Hayley’s house and we’d watch Beavis and Butthead… all night.. and we were in kindergarten.


While we watched a LOT of TV, we still played outside often and were active. We’d go swimming, ride bikes with our friends, build forts, I’d choreograph dances and “shows” with my friends, and weren’t totally addicted to technology. Of course, back then, we didn’t have iPods or the options that exist today.

It makes me sad to go out to dinner with Tom and see children with their families, totally zoned out from the world, tapping away on their phone or iPad the entire time. Part of me wonders if it’s to help the children behave during dinner, but when we were little, all it took was a stern look to know that we better be on our best behavior.

I’ve heard of many parents who limit their children’s time on the computer or TV each day, and I’m sure there are plenty of families out there who give their children free reign of the remote control, too. My bro and I did, and I don’t think it affected us too much. image Source

What was it like in your family?

Parents, how do you stand watching kid’s movies or TV shows- or are there actually some good ones out there? My friend said that if she had to watch another episode of Phineas and Ferb she would have a breakdown.

What’s your TV philosophy?

-Interesting articles: about too much TV and the harmful effects of too much screen time

-Similar topic: kids and social media

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  1. Keri on December 5, 2011 at 12:17 am

    We are so struggling with this right now! Our oldest daughter is 2.5 and she has just recently become super interested in watching movies (we don’t have TV so its either movies or stuff on youtube). On the one hand I hate for her to be glued in to the TV all the time but on the other hand it is great at occupying her so that I can get some stuff done around the house. It’s such a catch-22!

  2. Dominique on December 5, 2011 at 2:05 am

    When my two brothers and I were younger, my parents didn’t come home until about two hours after we arrived from school so that was basically our “watch whatever we want” time. My oldest brother and I have a six year age difference so while he was watching Degrassi (the original Canadian show), I did too and learned about stuff I probably didn’t understand back when I was young. My parents let us watch Sesame Street and other informative shows (Reading Rainbow, Today’s Special, etc) which were also fun. Saturday mornings were a different story though, because I’d get up just in time to watch Saved By The Bell and later California Dreams, etc.

    I think that while I may have watched a lot of TV when I was young, a lot of was informative as there was always a lesson to be learned. I don’t really know if that’s true of today’s shows. Also, the shows nowadays are way more riskier than what we were used to growing up. While my parents were fine with me watching The Gilmore Girls and The OC, I don’t think I’d let my teenage daughter watch something like Gossip Girl or The Kardashians (even though I watch both and love them).

  3. Coralie on December 5, 2011 at 2:35 am

    I’d be more concerned about my kids watching the Kardashians than Beavis and Butthead. What do you see in them that would make you want to contribute to their wealth by seeing their shows? I’m really shocked that you watch them.

    • Fitnessista on December 5, 2011 at 9:59 am

      i think a lot of people have a junk show or two that they watch- that’s mine 🙂

  4. Chelsea @ One Healthy Munchkin on December 5, 2011 at 7:41 am

    When I was a kid my parents only let me watch tv right before dinner or on weekend mornings. Also, they only let my sister and I watch one channel – the one that aired Arthur and Polka Dot Door. Their reason was that it didn’t have any commercials, so we weren’t constantly being bombarded with all those ads that target kids.

    It sounds restrictive, but we didn’t mind – we’d have rather been outdoors anyways!

  5. Katy Widrick on December 5, 2011 at 8:38 am

    We cut our cable a few months ago, and I wondered if I’d be despondent over missing my shows. It’s been the opposite — I spend much more time reading, working online and doing things around the house, not to mention the fact that I spend better quality time with my husband.

    We do have Hulu, Netflix and over-the-air digital cable, and I still watch quite a bit. But now, it’s planned, appointment viewing.

    We’re kid-free (for now!) but eventually, I’d like to think that our new habits will make it easier to be TV-free when the babies are around.

  6. Emily on December 5, 2011 at 9:02 am

    My husband and I have a 7 year old daughter and a 4.5 year old son. For our family, the TV thing just kind of worked itself out. My husband and I have never had (or wanted) a TV in our room. And the kids don’t (and won’t!) in their room either. But I’ll be honest…I love TV. I couldn’t get thru 45 minutes of cardio without it! 😉

    Our kids like TV and enjoy watching it. But they aren’t the type of kids who will zone out for hours. They would much rather be playing outside or playing pretend. One of their favorite shows is The Magic School Bus. 🙂

    One thing we DO ban is those teeny-bopper shows like iCarly and Hannah Montana and such. Many of our daughter’s friends and classmates watch them and they are just too old for first graders, in our opinion. And we don’t like the snotty, grown-up attitudes and the boyfriend-girlfriend themes on them.

  7. sarah on December 5, 2011 at 9:24 am

    If it was a nice day outside then we were forced to be outside playing and it was great! My sister and I rode our bikes and made mud pies but on rainy/cold days my mom would have an arts and crafts day with us. We hardly ever watched tv and we still have a no tv during dinner rule!

  8. JennP on December 5, 2011 at 9:34 am

    I try not to make too big of a deal about television one way or another with my daughter. I personally don’t want to totally restrict it or dangle it on front of her as a “treat”, because then I fear she will become totally fixated on it (similar to what happens when parents are super militant about sweets). On the other hand, I don’t want it to be the crutch that gets us through our day.

    The approach that works for us: I keep some different shows that I personally think are the best (Little Einsteins, Mickey Mouse Clubhouse etc) on the DVR. I’ll put an episode on in the morning when she wakes up so that I can sip my coffee and check emails. I might put another one on in the afternoon when we get home from running some errands. If we have the TV on in the evenings, then she watches what we watch, whether it’s football, Modern Family or Pawn Stars. Television is enjoyed loosely in our home. She doesn’t live in front of the TV, but she also sees it enough that she isn’t totally transfixed by it when she does get to watch.

    • Lauren on December 5, 2011 at 10:27 am

      I totally agree. 🙂

  9. Amy @ purewellnessamy on December 5, 2011 at 9:38 am

    My son is 4 and attends preschool every morning. I turn on PBS cartoons in the morning while he eats breakfast and then we usually don’t turn the tv on again until 5:00 ish when I’m making dinner. In the evening, he is a fan of nickelodeon – loves spongebob (and so do I. That show gets a bad rap. It’s not nearly as bad as people say it is), Kung Fu panda, and unfortunately tween shows like icarly and victorious. Those shows, while not bad, aren’t meant for preschoolers! Sometimes I get nervous that he’s watching to much tv when he begins quoting shows or talking about characters as if they’re real people in his life!! At this age, kids are sponges who remember and store every bit of Information they hear!

    Btw, I totally agree with you about not having a tv in the bedroom. I’ve never had one and never will!!

    • Amy @ purewellnessamy on December 5, 2011 at 9:40 am

      I meant “too much tv” <– pet peeve!

  10. Kate on December 5, 2011 at 10:19 am

    One way to think about it is to go with what the “experts” say. I am in medical school and they teach us to tell new parents that babies under 3 should get NO screen time at all. That means no TV, no computer, no game system etc. The reason is two fold, young babies don’t seem to learn anything from screens so its wasting “development time.” (For children under 2 years old, person to person contact is CRUCIAL for development.) Plus, large amounts of screen time are directly related to increased risk for childhood obesity.

    After that, the experts say to minimize screen time to under 2 hours. Most of families I babysit try to DVR “educational” shows that minimize adult themes and unnecessary advertising. That way they can control what is on and how long their kids watch. Plus, Word Girl on PBS isn’t half bad!!

    If you want some more information, I could email you some of the scientific articles they share with us.

  11. Lauren on December 5, 2011 at 10:24 am

    My son is 2.5 and pretty much only watches PBS…he LOVES Thomas the tank engine, Super Why and Caillou. Luckily, all of those are geared toward preschoolers and always have a nice lesson in them. While we might have the tv on during the day, it doesn’t stop us from going to other rooms of the house to play or outside on nice days. He LOVES to go outside and run or draw on the driveway with sidewalk chalk.

    We also cut our cable plan a couple years ago. We still have Netflix and over the air digital cable. But, we don’t let tv dictate our lives. 🙂

  12. Rhiannon on December 5, 2011 at 10:32 am

    I LOVED David the Gnome!! Living in the midwest, I was always very active during the summer months. But in the winter, we watched a lot more TV. No one ever limited my TV time, but I always wanted to do other things like write and draw. We had Childcraft books that came with an old set of Encyclopedia’s. There was a ton of cool kids crafts in there. I loved them. I think as long as you have activities to stimulate their little minds, they’ll want to do more than sit with electronics.

  13. mary on December 5, 2011 at 11:00 am

    From one of the studies linked: “The study, conducted by researchers from the University of Bristol, found that youngsters who spend hours each day in front of the TV or games console have more psychological difficulties like problems relating to peers, emotional issues, hyperactivity or conduct challenges, than those who don’t.”

    My question is how do you know if the tv watching causes the psych issues or if kids with psych issues just prefer to watch more tv because of their social/psych issues? The latter seems to make sense, and if that’s the case, the causal connection isn’t there and tv might actually be a good thing for those kids. It’s just so hard to gauge from some of these studies. The popular press tends to frame the results in ways that are intuitively pleasing to readers, I think.

    • Fitnessista on December 5, 2011 at 11:37 am

      it definitely makes you wonder about all of the other factors in their home life, including the parental dynamics and relationships between them.
      that’s a great point- i agree that news tends to sway results in order to favor their desired outcome for a “study”
      have you read freakonomics?

      • Debbie on December 5, 2011 at 11:55 am

        There are definitely other factors. A good friend of mine had a horrible upbringing and the only way to get “away” from it was to immerse herself with TV. She can quote any movie from the 80’s! She is also a very successful lawyer today. I believe it is like everything else in life….”everthing in moderation”.

      • JennP on December 5, 2011 at 11:59 am

        Freakonomics is the best book ever! I found every chapter so eye-opening.

        I agree about the ‘swaying’ of studies. It seems obvious that a child who spends their entire day parked in front of the television is going to be at a social disadvantage compared to a child who spends the whole day playing and interacting with a parent. That doesn’t necessarily mean that television is explicitly harmful, but just that it’s not super beneficial. I know that TV watching takes away from time when you could be talking to them, teaching them to count, taking them to a playground etc, but let’s be real… we are only human and sometimes a full-time mom needs a 1/2 hour break!

  14. Michelle on December 5, 2011 at 12:08 pm

    We had the problem of getting sucked in to the tv all the time so we actually cancelled our service about 2 years ago. I don’t even miss it. We watch only 1 movie together almost every night. (The nights we don’t are typically when Rodney has to fly the next day.) As for Avery, we feel very strongly about the “no tv for the first 2 years” rule. And after that, it will be limited. There’s just so much more to life than zoning out in front of the tv or computer. We want her to be an old fashioned kid, where she looks to a bike or a playground or even a book for enjoyment, rather than an iPad.

    • Michelle on December 5, 2011 at 12:11 pm

      Not to mention I read somewhere that the newer TVs now have such fast resolution that babies’ eyes can’t keep up and can cause some vision damage. Don’t know how true that is.

  15. Lisa on December 5, 2011 at 12:49 pm

    You watched a lot of TV as a child and you turned out fine, so why worry about it 🙂

  16. Meagan on December 5, 2011 at 1:08 pm

    I let C watch 30 minutes max a day–and that’s only if I have to get something done (like packing, preparing for a party, cleaning something potentially hazardous). She loves Dinosaur Train (on Netflix!) and Sid the Science Kid (also on Netflix!). They’re both PBS shows, and Dinosaur Train is ridiculously entertaining. Did you know that velociraptors had feathers? It blew my mind.

    Anyway, I think that boredom and play is important for a growing brain. Even though she sometimes hates it, I make her be bored 🙂

    When she gets older she’ll watch movies with us, I’m sure. DH and I love movies, and I think it’s a modern form of storytelling that can be well done, see: Pixar, some Disney, The Secret of the Kells, Willow, the Princess Bride, etc. It won’t replace time that we spend together telling stories and playing, but I don’t think it’s badevilohmygod.

    However, when it comes to personal devices DH and I are pretty decided about that: no. None, maybe a locked cell phone in the teen years, to be deposited in a basket and put away when they get home. Computer in a public space, no TVs in rooms, etc.

  17. Beth on December 5, 2011 at 1:43 pm

    No kiddos yet, but growing up my parents monitored what and how much we watched TV. My dad frequently vetoed shows that were inappropriate – including Full House and the Wonder Years! Those were probably okay for us to be watching at 14 years old, but now I appreciate that they were aware of what we were watching. We were allowed to watch our Saturday morning cartoons, but by 9-ish, it was expected that we’d get the day going whether that meant doing chores or playing (sans-TV) with friends.

    One rule that my parents had, especially when we were younger, that I plan to do with my kids is that they must be doing something while watching TV or a movie. Granted, it won’t happen everytime because sometimes it’s okay to just focus on the movie or show, but it kept us from completely spacing out on a TV show.

  18. JenP on December 5, 2011 at 1:52 pm

    We have a technology time limit for our kids – 10yo and 7yo. We’ve always limited technology because we notice that the more technology time they get, the worse they behave, but we made the decisions on a day by day basis. When we allowed our older son to get a DS (he was literally the last kid he knew to get one – we are mean and we’re ok with that), we implemented a weekly limit for all technology. We’ve noticed a few benefits. They watch NO tv. They don’t want to waste time on the tv that could be used for video games. Not that video games are better than tv, but the mornings are much quieter without cartoons. I like that. They are learning to budget their time. They think ahead to playdates or car trips on the weekend and plan accordingly so that they don’t run out of time early in the week. I think that’s a good skill to learn. We can use it as a discipline tool. If they misbehave or don’t listen, we take away time. If we want them to do something (like read a book that isn’t Pokemon), we can offer up extra time. Also, we don’t allow them to play video games in restaurants or when visiting family, so they still need to learn to behave even when they’re bored. So far, it’s worked well.

  19. Bree on December 5, 2011 at 2:03 pm

    Ha..I know about “the look.” All it took for me and my brother was my Dad to give us the look and we froze. My younger sister however is not deterred by the look. My brother and I are baffled by her defiance.

    I don’t worry about TV as much as I worry about technology in general these days. I see kids with iPads, phones, Nintendo DS3’s…etc all the time. My husband and I talk about that stuff more than we do TV, but we have commented on how we don’t want to use the TV as a staple in their day but more of a treat. Like getting to watch a movie if we had a sitter or something like that.

    That being said, I grew up in home day cares, and we were allowed to watch cartoons in the mornings while other kids arrived, and occasionally at the end of the day after a snack. Otherwise it was outside play time all summer and winter the majority of the day.

  20. Lisa on December 5, 2011 at 2:31 pm

    We have a 2.5 year old daughter who is currently in love with Disney Movies and I think it’s totally ok to let her watch it from time to time. We also watch PBS Sprout to get ready for bed. It actually helped in the “getting ready for bed” stage with my daughter.

    When it comes to technology (ipad, cell phones, etc.), I personally think this is the world we now live in. I don’t think it should take away from family, but kids now will be much more into it then we were simply because – we just didn’t have it. With books now virtual and everything easily accessed on ipads, we have to expect it to be prominent in our children’s lives.

  21. Dee on December 5, 2011 at 3:23 pm

    I don’t have a TV philosophy. When I have kids, I hope to keep them active doing stuff but I don’t think I’ll have strict no TV rules like friends of mine had growing up- my bff was allowed her choice of one 30 minute show per WEEK. Until the age of 26, I was a TV junkie, and not one bit concerned about it. Then I entered graduate school, and quickly realized that if I allowed myself to get into all the new fall TV series (The Fall Preview Guide was my bible), I might not graduate. I literally needed all my time for school work (a sad existence). So, I got out of the habit of watching TV regularly and when I finished school, I never got back into it. Now I only watch reruns of my favorite old sitcoms, at night to relax before sleep!

  22. Ali on December 5, 2011 at 6:26 pm

    I said the same thing…you just never know what will happen and what kind of child you will have/or what kind of day they are having or what kind of day YOU are having. To me TV is not a big deal as long as they are outside a majority of the time. As for dinner, haha, there are times when it makes sense, when you just want to talk to your husband and not have your child going crazy. It has NOTHING to do with your parenting. It’s situational. As for good kid shows? My daughter loves Yo Gabba Gabba.

  23. Ali on December 5, 2011 at 6:30 pm

    Oh, and I heard a great idea recently. Once the kids get old enough to understand chores and that sort of thing- good behavior/bad behavior you can have them “win” technology minutes. So for the chores they do, maybe they get 10 minutes per chore, or good behavior and they can put those towards TV time. They can save them for a movie or whatever. They can also get them taken away from bad behavior.

  24. Juani on December 6, 2011 at 4:03 am

    I don’t really mind children watching tv,as long as it doesn’t consume their days.My niece (10) has absolutely ZERO interest in watching tv of any sort (not even movies).She is an outdoorsy type of girl,and cannot understand why anyone would want to sit in front of a screen at all.

    Then there’s my 4 nephews.They all adore watching “their” shows and movies (especially ones about dinosaurs and robots), but not one of them would choose to watch a tv show above playing outside.They are very active,playful boys.

    I personally have nothing bad to say about tv, because I believe it helped me to learn English in a way (I am not English-speaking and hardly ever heard English growing up, except for on tv).

  25. Jess on December 6, 2011 at 4:30 am

    I used to work in a restaurant in a really posh area of London, and the number of families who come in with their little kids and just open up a portable dvd player or ipad and plonk it down in front of the kids is horrible! Especially as it is quite a family restaurant and we had colouring stuff available! It always made me really sad.

  26. Kristi @ Hiding in Honduras on December 6, 2011 at 2:20 pm

    Growing up we didn’t have cable TV, only the basic channels and we only had one TV in the house. There were certainly shows that we enjoyed watching (like TFIG, holla!) but there wasn’t 24/7 programming (like Disney channel) so it was much easier to turn off the TV and go outside and play. In comparison, a 5 year old I babysat for (4 years ago) was constantly watching TV or playing computer games. She was really intelligent but she was also an only child so there weren’t any other kids for her to interact with in the house. Of all the times I was there she never wanted to play outside and never had a friend over.

    My plan is to give the (future) kids a time limit per day, like no more than an hour on weekdays. But the parents also have to play along – you can’t tell your kid no TV and then sit in front of it yourself all night!

    You’re such an active person and live in a gorgeous place full of outdoor activities. I’d be very shocked if your little girl ended up to be a couch potato!

  27. Carrie on December 6, 2011 at 8:53 pm

    This is going to sound terrible but we allow our 5 month old to watch tv. Not a ton, but it is one of her “stations.” She was really difficult and it had been one of the only things to keep her calm at times. Just like us on occasion she also seems to need to “zone out.” She simply does not want to interact with me all the time and needs time to just watch and relax. I have fond memories of watching tv growing up and I think as long as it is balanced with outside time and exercise it is fine. Also, I’m so impressed with some of the shows out today. So cute! Everything in moderation. 🙂

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