TV or Not TV That is the Question

I have a feeling this could be a controversial week at Tech 4 Mommies.  A lot of people feel very strongly about the topics I’ll be discussing.  That is why I’m setting up a Twitter party tomorrow night for us all to discuss it!  If you participate in the Twitter party you will be entered to win a Logitech Harmony 300!  I just ask that everyone respect other people’s opinion and we can all voice our opinions with dignity and class.

I preface this post with the disclaimer because MY opinion is probably an unpopular one.  Or maybe I’m not as in the minority as I think…

I love TV.  I love movies.  Just a few steps into my house and you will see how much I love TV & Movies.  It’s really one of my husband and I’s favorite thing to do (well… almost) after the kids have gone to bed.  We just sit on the couch and watch a movie.

One thing that my husband doesn’t understand about me though is that even when I’m working or writing my blog, or paying the bills, or basically anything, I like to have the TV on.  I enjoy the background noise.  Especially if I’m doing something like the bills or blogging, I’ll put on one of my favorite shows that I’ve seen.  So I don’t really have to pay attention to know what is going on.  Since I enjoy this background noise… our TV is pretty much on all day.  It’s not like we are sitting in front of it WATCHING it all day, it’s just there and on.  The kids come and go, I come and go, my husband comes and goes, the dog comes and goes…. and the TV continues on.  (Here’s where I’m probably going to lose my mom card, right?)

Here is my philosophy with kids and TV.  I really don’t limit what they watch.  They still get outside and play, they still go up to their rooms and play.  They read books, they do everything else that kids should do.  I actually find that since it’s on all day they don’t ever feel the need to just sit in front of it all the time.  If a part interests them they may wander over to the TV and watch, and then move along when a commercial comes on.  It’s the same thing that I do.  If there is something I want to see, or a favorite part of a movie or TV show, I’ll stop what I’m doing and check it out.

So since my TV is on all day of course my children have watched TV BEFORE THE AGE OF TWO!  GASP!  Here is what I don’t like about those studies that absolutely forbid television before the age of 2 (and YES, I’ve read all the studies).  There are very different types of “watching TV”.  There is the “sit the kids in front of the TV and let them go comatose”… or there is the “sit with your kids, spend time with them and talk about what’s on the TV.”  We would do this with my daughter and Baby Einstein all the time.  I would sit with her, and when they had a dog on the screen I would say “dog” and point at the screen.  It was interactive.  I will admit though, I work FULL TIME, FROM HOME, with NO HELP (except for when my husband doesn’t have to work until later).  The TV is my only saving grace some times.  That is when I save the super special shows that I know my kids love and will sit down and watch at least most of a full episode.  I once wrote on my personal blog that Noggin was a gift from heaven for ill parents.

So I’m sure I’ll be judged for having the TV on all day, but I will say this… my 4 year old reads at a mid-year first grade level (according to her preschool teacher LAST YEAR).  She can do math, and can navigate a computer probably better than my Mother (sorry Mom).  Yes, she has the TV on as background noise for most of the day, and yes she probably watches way more than she should.  The difference, I think is whether or not the parent is involved in the child’s life.  Is the TV a tool to help educate, and give Mom a break once in a while, or has it become something they are propped up in front of as a means of ignoring the child?  THAT is where it can be dangerous I believe.

So I’m ready to take the beatings!  I’d love to hear from both sides of the argument!  Later today I will post the official details of the Twitter party for tomorrow (sponsored by Logitech), where we can have an in depth discussion on this and the other topics I’ll be addressing this week with regards to kids and games and other technology!  Commence discussion in 3…2…1…

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About the author

Sarah Werle Kimmel

Sarah Werle Kimmel is a digital parenting coach and family tech expert. She has spent the last 20 years of her career working as a Microsoft Certified IT Manager supporting over 100 small businesses. During that time she started Family Tech LLC to help families understand and manage the technology in their home. She has regularly appeared as a family tech expert on local NBC, CBS, ABC and FOX news affiliates, BYUtv and Studio 5, and has been invited all over the world from tech companies like Lenovo, Verizon, Microsoft, Dell, and Samsung. Find out more on her website


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Leave a Reply to collette Ynclan Cancel reply

  • This is a hard topic! I will preface my reply by saying both of my girls also watched (a minimal amount of) TV before they were 2 (well one is not yet 2) and we seriously limit the amount of TV they watch.

    I think the warning about kids and TV when they’re too young is that they can’t understand what is happening on the screen, it’s changing how their brain is wired and it can cause them to go comatose in front of the screen. But the fact that you interacted with your kids while watching TV and you’ve modeled the none comatose TV watching habit those don’t seem to be issues with your kids (or your family). But if they were, would you change your TV habits for your kids?

    See it really comes down to the question “How is your TV being used in your family?” And “How does it effect you, your kids, your family?” If you don’t think the affects are a concern to you (maybe their brains are being rewired for faster images and to jump from one thing to another, which studies I guess show are bad for concentration and other brain development… but I guess you could argue in a world full of tech, maybe they’d get this anyways or even need it to survive the onslaught they’ll be getting as they get older) and you don’t mind how the TV is being used in your family. Then how you you limit or don’t limit TV to your kids is probably fine, as long as it fits your own philosophy and you feel your kids are doing fine.

    My kids on the other hand, total comatose drones in front of the TV and the more the TV is on, the less they do. So we’ll continue to seriously limit the TV and instead foster other activities to get their brains stimulated.

  • I’ll weigh in. Your daughter (my granddaughter) is certainly more adapt at navigating the computer than I am. She’s very smart and you have done well in channeling her intelligence.

    Personally, my TV is off all day. It’s the way I was raised. My mother felt we needed to be creating, using our imaginations, getting sunshine outside, hitting the beach, whatever, so TV would only be on in the evening when we were winding down. Daytime TV was not allowed.

    Now, I find when the TV is on, I will stop and watch a segment of Dr. Oz or whatever because it interests me. It disrupts my work. So, instead, with the TV off, I Tivo my faves and catch them in the evening – fast forwarding through segments that are not pertinent. With the TV off during the day, I get more done at home (especially in my home office). Studies have shown an “interruption” requires 15 minutes to get back into the thought process to where we were before the interruption. The phone and other people are enough interruption for me. I don’t want to further complicate getting my work done.

    Finally, with the TV off, I’m able to hear the word of the Lord as He speakes to me. It’s a known strategy that if the enemy wants to conquer, he’ll jam the radio signals. With the TV off, I’m not giving him the opportunity to jam God’s radio signals to me. When it’s quiet, I have a better chance of hearing Him.

  • I also work from home without outside help. I am with you on the sanity-saving qualities of certain channels and/or programs. Sometimes it was the only way to get anything done. But then again, there are times when I think my head will explode if I have to listen to Spongbob Squarepants, or the Phineas & Ferb theme song one more time!
    If I am the only one home (happens once in a while) then I turn it off during the day. But in the evening it’s always on.
    My kids are just fine. They are well adjusted (as well adjusted as teenagers CAN be) and they are good students. I don’t think I’ve warped them to seriously….at least where TV is concerned. 🙂

    P.S. Your mom is a pretty smart lady.

  • I restrict my kid’s TV time now more than I did when they were babies/toddlers. But mostly now is because they have chores/homework/church activities/sports/scouts and a million other things that who has time for TV?

  • I’m with Veronica– Your mom is one smart lady!
    My kids have permission to turn on the TV only after their homework and chores are done. I feel like a TV nazi, but they have to tell me what they want to watch. They can’t just turn it on just for the sake of having it on. And when I get sick of it, I’ll send them outside.
    When they were little though, TV was the only way I could get a shower in!

  • If anyone thought they were a tv-nazi…they haven’t met me yet. The tv in my house is very limited. My kids rarely watch live tv. They are allowed to watch what I have recorded for them on the DVR and they must fast-forward commercials. If you sit and observe the messages being delivered to your kids in the commercials you would be sick. They’re the worst part. All of my kids love Dora the Explorer but they always show Degrassi or other older kids commercials where they dealing with intimacy etc ON THE COMMERCIALS. I also do not allow shows like Hannah Monatana or any live-actor teenie-bopper show on. There are plenty of studies that show that young kids feel that those “teenie-boppers are their peers” and that affects their actions…usually those kids on tv have boyfriends, are mean to each other and their parents, etc. I don’t want my kids to think that is a reality for them. They also watch tv only when they have accomplished the things they need to (homework, chores, etc.) We do watch alot of family movies, discovery channel etc, together.

    We try to limit the mindless noise in our house. With 3 kids there is plenty of noise, but radios and tv’s are left off, even in the car, those are my moments to have good deep talks with the kids, where they can feel they can share anything. As my friend with teenage boys says, ” That is when they are locked in with no place to go, they HAVE to talk to me.” It is also true you can’t hear the still small voice with useless distraction.

    Having said that I don’t judge people based on MY tv preferences. You’re the parent and what works for you works for you.

    • Thank you Collette! I am so glad you weighed in! I want to hear both ends of the spectrum, so thank you!! I actually agree about the commercials and those “teenie bopper” shows. (although it may be more for Hubby who may disown me if I allowed Maddie to watch anything like that. 🙂 ) Boomerang is great, cause there are no commercials, also Noggin.

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