- “Americans 2 years of age and older now spend an average of 4 hrs and 49 minutes per day (emphasis mine) in from of the TV.” (pg. 145)
- “In 2003, 77% of kids under six watched television every day, and children younger than 2 got two hours and five minutes of ‘screen time’ with TV’s and computers per day.” (pg. 145 & 146)
- Children should not watch TV before age 2.
- “For each hour of TV watched daily by children under age 4, the risk increased 9% that they would behave in bullying behavior by the time school started.” (pg. 146)
- “For each additional hour of TV watched by a child under the age of 3, the likelihood of an attentional problem by the age of 7 increased by about 10%. So a preschooler who watches 3 hours of TV per day is 30% more likely to have attentional problems than a child who watches no TV.” (pg. 146 & 147)
- Regarding Baby Einstein DVD’s and related: “They had no positive effect on the vocabularies of the target audience, infants 17-24 months. Some did actual harm. For every hour per day the children spent watching certain baby DVDs and videos, the infants understood an average of six to eight fewer words than infants who did not watch them.”
- Some shows (after age 5) can help improve brain performance – interactive types like Dora the Explorer and others that may have “intelligent interaction.”
- “Kids with their own TVs score an average of 8 points lower on math and language-arts tests than kids in a household with TVs in the family room.” (pg. 149)
How do we handle TV time in our home?
Now that I’ve presented some of the facts, I’d love to talk to you about how I handle TV time in our home.
- I try and limit TV to one hour a day. Many days we have no television. Some days we have more than an hour.
- I do not do television with children under the age of 2.
- My children will not have a television in their room.
- I encourage my kids to watch fun, interactive and educational shows like Magic School Bus, Dora the Explorer, Mickey Mouse Clubhouse, Veggie Tales, Super Why, Sid the Science Kid and Sesame Street.
- TV time is given if the responsibilities (school work, piano practice, picking up, etc.) are completed.
- The removal of television time is a consequence for behavior. See “Consequences that Make Sense” for other consequences we do in our home.
- Friday Fun Day is one of our favorite days of the week. We have sugared cereal for breakfast, pizza for dinner and a family movie. Bonding over a movie is a fun tradition in our home.
- There are times I use TV time as “mommy get stuff done time.” However, we have been recently watching “Little House on the Prairie” together, and I watch every episode with them. There are tough topics I want to address with them, and I enjoy it. Here’s a link to the first season.
- Sometimes I reserve television time for that 30 minutes before dad walks through the door. It creates a calm in the house and gives me a bit of time to prepare dinner.
- We are particular about the content of shows. I don’t think my oldest 2nd grader needs to be watching teeny-bopper shows that have a cast of older kids focusing on boys and clothes. I don’t want those shows to influence her. I also noticed that I was letting my son watch some Ninja Turtle shows, and he was beginning to play more by punching and fighting. Shows have a huge impact on how our children play and think. When we watch Little House together, my girls play make believe like they are living on the prairie. How do you want your children to behave? What do you want them to be thinking about? Encourage them to watch shows that will promote good play and behavior. I absolutely love the VeggieTales because of their great influence for God, morality and fun. Another Christian TV option is The Hermie Series by Max Lucado.
Now that you have the facts and a little insight into how we manage TV time in our home, I hope you feel like you have the tools to figure out what works for your family. Here are some more thoughts on limiting screen time.