Kids and TV or rather Mom Versus TV

| January 31, 2011 | Comments (14)

child in front of tvAmongst other things, there is one thing which I have been stubborn about: keeping TV to a bare minimum for my almost three year old. We have been pretty good about not having TV on during her waking hours. We use YouTube a lot for a variety of things like nursery rhymes, some short stories and the likes.

We are so restrained about it, that hubby even gives up his football viewing. He might check scores, last quarter, but I can’t remember the last time he watched an entire game on a Sunday afternoon. Of course we wait until V sleeps and then it’s our time, it’s TV time, movies and all that jazz!

The programs like Dora, Handy Many, Mickey Club House, Sesame Street are rarely played in the house. She knows the characters though thanks to school, well branded toys, play dates, her own toys, books and occasional TV viewing.

I should actually use past tense in the above paragraph. Since in the past 2-3 months, we have laxed it a bit. She likes Handy Manny. I love the role of gender in that series. She also enjoys Mickey Clubhouse; I love how innocent it is. She has seen a few of Dora’s expeditions.

But, as she is approaching three, I am wondering, is my restraint overkill? Am I restricting her ability to grasp information from other places? Recently she saw Nemo, Shrek and another cartoon movie. I don’t think, she got the entire story. Weeks after she still remembers a few things, like how the shark came, how Nemo was sad, how Shrek galloped and on and on.

I read that limited (30-60 minutes) a day is now age appropriate for her. She has been good at following 5 minute and 2 minute warnings. She does have occasional tantrums when we turn off the TV, but a bit of coaxing and distraction seem to be working fine. (Knocking on wood)

For me: No TV has its reasons. I don’t enjoy how she slouches on her chair and just gazes into screen. Even if I try to engage her in the program, I barely get a nod. I feel she might be more active and more creative minus TV. Strain on eyes!

For me: Yes TV also has its reasons. We play ON-Demand shows right now, so we can ensure that its age appropriate. We watch sports and love how she does “nice Shot”, “Run” “Touchdown” actions. It does give us all time to sit on couch and regain some energy and cuddle time!

I was discussing with a friend recently about V’ birthday party planning, no theme, just friends and family over. We both recanted stories of kids three-four years of age having Thomas Train parties, Monster Truck parties and kids demanding their own theme. I was in a way happy that all V is asking for is Party Hats and Balloons for everyone who comes. But at the same time, I was second guessing myself, wondering if I have restricted her knowledge sources?

One thing I am still adamant about is Restricting TV to age appropriate programming. Period.

What’s your take? How much TV is good enough? Are kids today watching way too much, too little? Are we as parents being a bit too controlling?

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About Garima Nahar: Garima is always trying to find a balance in life: with family, with work, with fun and with life in general! She gets that its a very fine line, but still tip toeing on it is a bit hard. On a day to day basis she does everything possible to have her sanity intact including writing about it at It's a Start (gnsd.blogspot.com) and Mommy-In-Making. She has MS in Engineering and has years of experience in Project, Product Management and Quality Management. View author profile.

Comments (14)

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  1. I think your limiting V’s TV viewing is just fine. With obesity on the rise, I think we need to get our kids off the couch and moving, whether it be indoors or out. Besides, when all is said and done, I don’t think any mother ever said, “Gee, I wish I’d let my kids watch more TV.”

    • Garima says:

      Rita, I agree. No mom will say: Let her watch more TV. But I often wonder, Am I being too strict. With obesity, glasses and weaker physical strength of kids today, I think I can push TV away a bit more.

  2. Amy says:

    We’re choosing to keep the tv unplugged with our daughter too. We tend to “live” on the first floor of our (2 floor) home, and since there is no tv there, it’s easy. We do play “music videos” in Italian on youtube, hoping to support her language skills, occassionally.
    I was less anti-tv with my son, age 9, but I always focused on helping him to find fun outside of tv and now that he’s older and can flip on the tv whenever he wants, I find that – thankfully – he naturally limits his time.

    • Garima says:

      Amy that is so good to read that your son can manage TV time on his own. That is the hardest I feel. We do put on Hindi stories on You-Tube for the multi-lingual up bringing as well.
      I like how so say “live”. No TV does imply we tune in to other things more.

  3. mom-mom-mom says:

    I knew we created a monster when my 8-year old went through the 5 stages of grief after his TV/Video time was reduced!

    • Garima says:

      Haha… I am hoping its better now. Not that I know anything about 8 year olds (My daughter is 3 right now!), but am assuming he has come to terms with it soon. Please say yes!

  4. Lisa says:

    We are at pretty much the extreme opposite end. TV is almost always on, except during homework time and when the tv is used for music. My son is super active, maybe choosing to sit and watch one show while sitting still before he’s off and “playing” that show. All of my boys have been raised with the similar situation. Is it too much, surely,but my husband is the one home full time so he makes the decisions while I’m gone. But all of our boys are super active and on the cautiously thin side. I think that their tendencies will be what they’ll be. For me I LOVE watching my youngest (just turned three) watch a movie (2 hours) and then spend days “playing” that movie. If they would do nothing but sit idly and watch it, it’d be off more in our house. But it really seems like a spark for them. But I also love technology for helping learn, ie a video game has taken 1 month to teach my son letters to a level we couldn’t in the last year.

    • Garima says:

      Lisa, that is very intresting. 3 year old playing out movies.. Hmm.. that is amazing.
      By the time I was 10-12 years old, I knew TV was ours. We didnt have rules and such. And again, there was not such good programming as well> So, I dont remember growing up with TV but I dont remember the TV being a big deal also.
      At this point, I am still so torn!

  5. Our girls don’t watch TV during the school week. On the weekends they can watch one sow per day. There are too many other things they can do to waste time staring at a TV screen.

  6. Sirsha says:

    Garry, whatever you do you’re the BEST mom (in my world view, which may be limited but who cares). I love that you restrict her TV time but remember you’re playing and engaging with her during that time, so she is definitely learning. No way you can keep her from knowing Thomas truck etc. (sorry i’m a bit out of loop on characters) – she will eventually know everything just like kids always do. Didn’t we learn stuff our parents didn’t want us knowing? So, yes, please let her be a little more child-like because she’s only going to be like that for some time. Perhaps and I don’t know squat, you can let her watch a good program uninterrupted and ask her questions about it later – what she thought of the theme, the characters, why did X do that etc. Interrupting in middle of TV watching and asking questions won’t elicit answers from my frown-up husband, so forget about your almost-3-yr old’s ability to tear her eyes away!! Cutie pie V!! She’s a wonderful little girl!

    • Garima says:

      Sirsha, You are too sweet. Hugs! I guess you are right, as long as she is engaged into activities, she should be okay. Like B says, her mind is like sponge these day, and I wonder with limited TV am I restricting her?

  7. Sumit says:

    Agreed with Sirsha….you just do your best, and forget the rest…

  8. Christy says:

    While we have never used the TV as a babysitter like I see so many do, the TV is on most of the time at our house. The difference is that it is only background noise, we very rarely sit and watch. Our almost-four-year old watches what we do, no cheesy kids shows, and no inappropriate ones either. Mostly things on Discovery, TLC, or Animal Planet. We watch the news at night while we cook dinner, and this summer he was asking us questions about the oil spill (especially since we live near the Gulf Coast and took him with us to the Jimmy Buffett benefit concert there).

    He has just now shown some interest in movies, and we have let him watch a couple (Toy Story 1, 2, and 3), but we all did that together as well. He would rather be painting, drawing, building a city for his cars with blocks, or have us read him a book.

    It does make it difficult when we take him to the Dr. or dentist and the ‘prizes’ are usually something to do with a character such as Spongebob or Dora, who he has no idea who they are. I don’t remember everything having some character’s face plastered on it when we were kids?

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