Thursday, February 25, 2010

TV Time

TV time or the lack thereof is something all parents have to consider. I'm going to share what works for our family and how we decided to do it this way.

Before we got married, Dan watched several hours of TV per day. I had the potential to do the same, but neither of us wanted that to be our life. We decided on watching one hour of TV per week and one movie per month. That quickly morphed into one hour of TV per night and one movie per week.

We each get one movie pick per month and one TV pick per week. We use our picks to watch something the other person may not be so interested in. The rest of the time Dan picks something he thinks we'll both enjoy simply because TV is more of Dan's thing than my thing. If there is something I really want to watch, I'll suggest it and he'll usually go for it.

The two nights that Dan works second shift, I could watch an hour of TV by myself, but often forget. I like The Office (or as Daniel calls it, "Michael") and Project Runway when I'm in the mood to watch by myself.

When Daniel was around one years old, we started to think there should be a policy for kid TV time as well. We had a Baby Einstein movie that we liked to put on for him, but he was not as interested. He would watch for a minute or two, then move onto playing. We decided that if he wanted to watch kid TV, we'd limit it to two hours a week, or roughly a half hour show each day Dan was at work.

Daniel doesn't want to watch TV, so I never push it. Sometimes he'll suggest that we watch a Thomas movie tomorrow, but when tomorrow comes around, he doesn't ask again. Every few weeks when he says he wants to watch something today and I put it on, he gets tired of watching and goes and plays. I am perfectly okay with that, except for the fact that he doesn't like me turning it off until it has played the whole way through.

The kids are usually awake when we start watching TV at night, but quickly fall asleep. They then wake up for a before bed routine when the show is over and go to bed for the night. I know that is an odd way to do things, but it works for us.

Oh yeah, and this is all done without a TV. In the fall of 2008, my physics teacher from high school, Bob Crawley, was on Survivor (and won!) and I wanted to watch it on the TV while Dan was at work. The rabbit ears weren't cutting it so I searched for TV alternatives online. We had Netflix for a while, but found that we didn't need it with all the other options available. Between hulu, YouTube, and our DVD collection, we have plenty to watch.

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50 comments:

Susan said...

Television unites us in our culture. We have the same benchmarks in life due to the little glowing box.
We make references to ball players and games, actors and their characters, news stories. And we all know what you are talking about. Because it was just that moment that connects us all.

I love Daniel calling calling the show 'Michael', too cute!

Do you take the daily or Sunday newspaper? My dad just cannot get through the day without a news fix. Do you keep up on current events on the web?

As for Daniel seemingly not watching his shows, he is multitasking. Honestly, kids will wander off and do something else but they are still keeping up with the show. Evidence, they don't want you to turn off the show until it is over.

I watch a lot of history and science on tv. I want to keep my mind open to learning and experiencing things I physically cannot do. By starting your children on such programs now, you will begin to foster a life-long gift of continuing education.

Have you ever tried some of the Food Network shows. The recipes and cooking hints are great!

strangeknit said...

My husband and I got rid of our tv too. It helped reduce the mindless noise in the background a lot! We watch some shows on hulu, joost, or movie from dvd. The best part, our electric bill went down a lot. Those hours and hours with the tv on or all those electronic gadgets really add up to some wasted money. The hours wasted were much worse!

It is really inspiring just how many right choices that you and your family are making. I don't think people tell you that enough. Yes, I might not agree with everything you do but you have a lot more common sense than most Americans. Thank you for reminding me of that we all can make different choices.

Terri
strangeknit.com <put my blog there but need to really update again. lol

Christena said...

how can you stand to watch project runway on youtube? firstly, i assume it's cut into five minute parts, which is annoying, but itsn't it also technically illegal? i would think that watching illegally ripped tv shows online would be against your religious beliefs. I dunno... i thought there was something about not stealing in the bible somewhere.

Suzanne said...

We got rid of cable as it was getting so expensive and basically garbage was on anyway. We joined Netflix and we can choose what comes into our home this way. Oft' times on the weekend we rent a family friendly movie for Saturday night. But I do like my BBC Mysteries and Masterpiece Theatre. We let the younger children watch Mr. Rogers. Not much of quality for kids on TV these days, sadly. I read a great book called Endangered Minds, by Dr. Jane Healey, the affects of tv on youngsters is amazing--not good for them at all.

Linda said...

Hi Emily, very good post. I am afraid I watch way too much TV but then I don't have little one's anymore. We watched very little TV when my girls were young. I think that is great that Bob Crawley was you High School teacher...he was one great guy and I loved that he won Survivor! I think you make good choices.

Emily said...

Susan, we keep up with current events from the radio, but we don't get the paper.

Christena, Project Runway is on hulu and it is not illegal.

Anonymous said...

I've actually read credible studies (not wacky theories by fanatics) that there seems to be a correlation between TV watching and the rise of Autism and ADHD. They don't know exactly what it is, but speculate it could have something to do with the way small children's brains are developing and that TV watching makes their brains wire incorrectly. Another theory is that they stay inside more and are thus exposed to more household toxins. It isn't proven yet, but it's interesting to consider.

Jennifer said...

Anonymous, I could buy that theory if it made sense. First of all, both Autism and ADHD have been around for a lot longer than since the 1980s. That's just when they gave it a name. It hasn't been "on the rise", it has been more and more formally diagnosed. I had ADHD as much before I was nine and diagnosed as I did afterwards. Knowing what I know about autism (a lot, I've done a lot of research), I am pretty sure I have a high functioning form of that but am undiagnosed because it didn't interfere with my schoolwork, which is the main reason people seek diagnoses in children. And in fact I plan to ask to be tested once I have health insurance again.

If you read accounts of daily life from time periods before there was tv, there were people who behaved in a similar manner as people with these things today. Society was different then, and didn't medicalize behavioural conditions. Because of this, it was dealt with differently with each individual: there were no medicines or treatment plans or what have you. So these people weren't lumped together as "autistic" or "ADHD". That doesn't mean no one or a smaller population had them.

Finally, as a child I watched very little television and was outside for hours daily. I want to know how sitting inside with the household toxins and watching tv can be to blame if I hardly did either of those things? My diagnosed classmates were outside playing with me as well. When I was inside, because it was cold (which didn't happen often in South Texas) or raining, I much preferred making up stories and reading books. There were times when my mother took me to the library every day, or once I got old enough and trusted enough by the librarians, where I would take home eight to ten books and come back three days later. If you read that much in that short of time, you don't have time for tv!

Domestic Goddess said...

Jeebus, everything causes autism these days. Parents of Autistic children feel guilty enough without all of these (unproven) theories that abound. My kids didn't watch until they were at least 3, one just started watching and he is seven. And they still have a diagnosis of ADHD and autism, long before they even watched tv.

I dont' see anything wrong with quality programming.

Amy said...

We've gotten by without TV either. (We actually have a TV but don't get a single channel where we live! I think if we got an outdoor antenna we could but DH isn't wild about installing a rooftop antenna on our rental house. ;)) You really can watch a lot on Hulu! Though we have discovered that the Olympics with no broadcast TV really stink. :(

The Walmart Vegan said...

We cancelled our cable years ago. We watch Netflix (carefully chosen), National Geographic Videos and other things of the sort.

I hate the influence commercials have.

The only down side I have found is that now that our oldest is in college, many people make references to main stream tv shows and he has no clue. On the other hand, he can explain plays, music etc. to them. So maybe it isn't a bad trade off.

AnnMarie said...

OMG--you got to have him for a teacher???!!! I'm so jealous. We LOVED him. And when we moved to Maine last summer we discovered he was from the area (there was an article in the paper right after we moved or while we were looking) and I so wished we'd end up in G....but then our daughter is about 12 years away from high school physics anyway. LOL

Andria Stanley said...

When I was doing my clinical rounds with a pediatrician, he had studied in depth the effects of tv on children, and felt that it didn't necessarily cause autism, but the effect on children is significant, because the eyes flicker over 250 times per minute, as they stare at the tv. It's not good for neural development.

We got rid of all our DVD's, except for a few cartoons the kids like, a few classics (like, Miracle On 34th Street, Gone With The Wind), and other DVD's that we KNEW that we would watch again. We have no more than 15 dvd's total. Even then, I think that's a lot, and I live in a large 2 story house. How many did you trim down after Valentine's? Do you feel like you have too many DVD's in your small space?

Tim Majorins said...

Christina, There are a few tv viewers like Hulu. They are owned by the television networks and generally are online 24 hours after they air on tv or cable. This is not at all illegal.

cori

Atheist Mama said...

If you don't mind I'd like to "whore" my post about TV here...because...I think everyone should cancel cable (it's sooo expensive!!) and start watching stuff online because *everything* can be watched FOR FREE. Free = YAY! :P

http://thehappyatheisthomemaker.blogspot.com/2009/12/who-needs-tv.html

About kids watching TV...I'm so in the camp that doesn't freak out about it. Sorta.

I mean, a kid watching SAW? HELL no. But a kid watching (or being in the same room) an appropriate (or at least not inappropriate) show? No biggie.

I did it when I was a kid and as far as I know am not autistic nor do I have ADHD.

My Dd watched baby Einstein and is happy, healthy and smart (not because of the movies, lol, she just *is*).

Ds is totally uninterested in TV and it's cool. It's not like I force people to watch stuff...but if they, no matter their age, wanna...whatever.

Life is far to short to sweat the small stuff :P

Sondra Rose said...

If TV watching contributed to Autism, my sisters and I would be in BIG trouble--LOL! I watched an average of 5 hours of TV a day growing up. Found that I was so addicted to it, that I wasn't getting my schoolwork done, so I stopped watching. I haven't lived in a house with a TV since college!

Nice to know about Hulu. We watch lots of DVDs from our local video store and I used to subscribe to the Spiritual Cinema Circle which puts out a feature film and several shorts once a month--a nice option if you don't want any sex or violence and are looking for more positive, inspiring movies...

I'm not so interested in being "united in our culture"--much more interested in thinking for myself and creating a life that truly reflects my values and beliefs.

Emily said...

AnnMarie, G..... is an excellent school district for all grades, and he was a fun teacher, but there are several good districts in the area.

Rachel in Florida said...

WalMart Vegan, I read an article about actor Ted Danson. He grew up in a no t.v. household, and it wasn't until college that he actually watched t.v. then he was bit by the acting bug. So, your son is in the same place he was. Wonder if he'll get the bug!

I hate to admit it, but our t.v. is on all the time we are awake. Even if I am not watching, I like the background noise. It was always on at my home and the home of my cousins growing up. It is just a second nature type of thing. sometimes by the late afternoon I will turn it off, having gotten tired of the noise, but my husband comes in and turns it on. He watches Cheers reruns, a Ted Danson theme going here?
In the evening my husband does crossword puzzles and is only paying a little attention to the t.v. I find that I watch more since diagnosed with fibromyalgia a few years ago. If I am in pain or in a brain fog, I can't really concentrate to read or do crafts projects.

What do I like? Masterpiece Theater, the Big Bang Theory, Castle, NCIS, Criminal Minds, Numbers,The Forgotten, various PBS specials. As you can see, I don't care for reality t.v. My husband loves the Biggest Loser. I love movies, and so does he, so we have a NetFlix subscription and go see a movie occasionally.

Our Family Is His said...

Anonymous at 9:25am, the problem with that theory is, how does watching TV mess up your gut to the point that you have horrible digestion and diarrhea many times a day? How does it cause constipation? How does it cause your blood work to come back looking like a very sick person? How does it create an inability to process gluten, casein, and soy in many children on the spectrum? How does it create all the whole body issues that goes hand-in-hand with Autism? If TV watching can do that, we should ALL throw the thing away and not even watch a movie or news show on them.

Treva said...

http://sports.yahoo.com/olympics/vancouver/blog/fourth_place_medal/post/Hannah-Teter-is-going-off-the-grid?urn=oly,223826

An olympian plans on living, at least part time, in a yurt! You have to read this article!

dust in the wind said...

We don't have TV in our house, and I am so glad for that. Maybe in the future we'll get something like SkyAngel so we can have a little TV without all the crap, but I'm not sure I'd even want it... I feel like the TV is sucking away my brain whenever I watch it! Lol. We'd much rather go outside, do a craft, or listed to the radio.

Have you read what Sharilyn had to say about the TV in her post "the t.v. is broken"? It was good.

http://lovelydesign.blogspot.com/2010/02/tv-is-broken.html

Thanks for sharing. I'm going to look into some of what you mentioned, because we would like to watch some things (Like the World Cup this summer!!!)

dustin @ www.onlydustinthewind.blogspot.com

Cris said...

My house is TV-free - no TV, disk drive for netbook, or online watching. My parents were TV-limited and at times TV-free. Obviously I agree with that aspect of their lifestyle:p

TV is everywhere so I do get exposure. My partner is cable-free and loves Netflix so I watch some movies at his place. My ex is the same so our kiddo watches some movies too.

Clisby said...

We got rid of our TV when our now-13-year-old was 6 months old. We had stuck the TV in a closet as part of a housecleaning binge before she was born. We took it out when she was 5 months old, so her first babysitter could watch TV if she wanted. Then we stuck it back in the closet. We moved a couple of months later, and figured that if we hadn't missed TV in the past 7 months, we didn't need it - so we gave it away.

We were never heavy TV watchers - a big week would have been maybe 3 hours - and now my husband and I find TV incredibly annoying. We do watch DVDs, and occasionally something on hulu - on the computer. That's plenty.

And for anyone concerned with current events - TV is the last place you should be looking for information on that. That's what newspapers and news magazines and the internet are for. TV news is crap. The format doesn't allow for anything else.

Dreamer13 said...

We don't even get "real" channels. :) We do have a massive fancy TV which we got for FREE! But we only watch movies on it. and only occasionally. We also enjoy some old seasons of Friends and Gilmore Girls on DVD! and my daughter always watches some old school winnie the pooh (real actors) or concert dvds while I do her hair in the mornings :)

All things in moderation, right :)

Christena said...

i'm sorry to have jumped to conclusions. when project runway was on bravo, it was not available on hulu. now that has moved to lifetime, they've made a deal i guess. I use hulu almost daily to catch up on shows that i miss. Sorry for the harshness.

Mary Jane said...

Clisby- I disagree that TV news is crap. It all just depends on what you're watching. This might not be a popular opinion, but I honestly believe that there is absolutely no better source for news than Jon Stewart. The man is a genius and I suspect that his viewers are much more well-versed in current affairs than the average daily newspaper reader.

Luckily you can now watch the Daily Show online for free.

Anonymous said...

You may already have this site bookmarked but there are lot of Thomas episodes here.

http://www.youtube.com/user/rkovision

They are short, about 8 minutes long. Each one is one little story. My little guy loves trains and adores Thomas. He doesn't like this site as much as the TV because they don't play the theme song though...the song is his favorite part

lesstaken@gmail.com said...

We have no TV here , Just a laptop. We never watched TV when we had one.

Sarah said...

Tv causes autism? As the older sibling of a very deeply autistic brother and one who has worked with these kids for quite some time...most autistic children HATE having to sit down and watching that much television. Granted, there are some who "stim," or perseverate, off a particular program but even then I don't believe they're truly watching the show.

Sometimes I think it's the "normal" kids we need to be more worried about. ;)

Sarah said...

P.S. Sorry Emily for not commenting on your actual post. =) It sounds like you have a perfectly reasonable system for watching TV. I have been watching too much lately with the Olympics! Normally I will watch the Office or Biggest Loser.

Anonymous said...

I need to set further limits on my kid's TV time, but I have a question that I hope you will answer, or if you already have addressed it, point me to the post. What are your babies doing while you are cooking from scratch and sewing, etc, etc? I admire it, but I have an infant and an 22 month old, and I can barely keep the dishes and laundry done, and I use a lot of shortcut convenience foods. It helps now that my 22 month old can kind of assist with unloading the dishwasher and putting clothes in the dryer--I can get something done while keeping her occupied. But seriously, how do you watch your babies and get everything else done with very little TV?

Emily said...

Sarah, I love Biggest Loser! It's another one I watch while Dan is at work.

Anon, I don't direct most of my children's play. They usually play independently where I can see them, and they like to help with a lot of the work I do. I get this question a bit, so I might develop a whole post to it.

lesstaken@gmail.com said...

Anon w/ 22 Month - I may not be emily but I do a lot of other activities and my kids , they just toddle around playing , looking out the window etc. Its all about the baby gates , and a good pile of toys. At least w/ mine , sometimes i just sing them silly songs or they play on their own , it was the same way with my eldest when it was just him alone.

Kat said...

Again, this is totally not on topic (well it sort of is I guess...) but Emily, I love when you blog about crunchy mom stuff! I've really enjoyed your posts on EC, cloth diapering, breast feeding, , birth etc. I would love to read more AP/mothering posts (baby wearing, gentle discipline,co-sleeping and of course more about the topics above.) Especially in regards to frugality...as ironic as it seems, being crunchy can be costly!

Erin said...

We shell out some coin for satellite tv each month but typically only actually watch an hour or two each week. I gave up following any TV shows during the writers' strike but haven't quite given up on paying for the option yet. Hulu, Netflix, etc. in favor of cable/satellite is a great way to shave money from your budget and raising kids who watch less TV than average can't be a bad thing.

Anonymous said...

Hulu is going to start charging a fee for access within the next few months!
How is watching (and wasting time) on a computer any different than watching (and wasting time) on a tv? Curious

Emily said...

Kat, i agree that soe aspects of being crunchy can be not so frugal. I'll add soem of those to my list of ideas for posts.

Anon, all forms of entertainment could be seen as a form of wasting time. The only difference between the TV and the computer is that not having a TV frees up space and its free. Even if hulu charges, the individual networks put the videos on their websites. I doubt they could all justify charging as well.

Anonymous said...

I disagree that all entertainment is wasting time. Going to a museum is entertaining and educational. Taking a walk/riding a bike is entertaining, healthy and can be educational. There are lots of ways to be entertained and not waste time!
My tv is as small as my computer and I get many free channels (granted not cable but all the major networks and a few other channels. I use a special antenna). The computer shows aren't really free as you have to pay for internet access.
My understanding (can't find the article)is that most of the free viewing places will be going to charging fees. Bummer.

ainmemphis said...

I wish I could cancel our cable! I grew up watching tv (I was a latch key kid) and turned out just fine, but I find myself not watching much tv now. I find it as a distraction and waste of time. But my husband grew up without cable and ever since collge its like he's making up for lost time! I want to raise our son to not value the tv so much but am afraid of creating a tv addict when he grows up like his dad. I still have time since he is only 4 months and doesn't realize that the tv is on whenever daddy is at home. Do you think that if you were in a different place financially and had more than enough for cable, would you have it and limit watching time or not have it?

Shannon said...

I have no problem with people not watching TV or opting to not own one or whatever. Kudos.

Since the weather is cold, we don't spend a lot of time outdoors and watch more TV. I've not ever seen ANY ill effects on my kids. In fact, they seem to learn more. You should hear the vocabulary on my 5 year old! I keep tabs on what's appropriate and don't stress about how long they watch as long as it doesn't become a problem, and having 4 kids, it has yet to ever prove a problem.

And mama likey her TV time. My kids are all in bed by 9, and my DH doesn't come home from work til 11, so for 2 hours I like to kick back and channel surf.

Anonymous said...

This seems overly complicated to me.

Clisby said...

As far as watching on a computer vs. TV: If you'd spend exactly the same amount of time in front of one vs. the other - nothing. In our case, our 4 computers are in our home office. When either I or my husband is working in there (which is a lot of the time), the kids can't do anything on a computer that requires sound - it's too distracting. If we all get together to watch a video or something on hulu, we sit on the regular office chairs - no lounging around on a sofa. No multitasking (playing, doing homework.) For us, watching something on the computer requires that you really *want* to see it, and are willing to go to some trouble to do so. I think people are much more likely to just switch on a TV and keep it on.

www.nelliebugs.com said...

Kudos to you for not letting your family fall into the TV TRAP. We don't watch tv AT ALL, though we do have a decent movie collection. The girls would rather play than watch movies most of the time, but sometimes it's nice to get peace and quiet.

Sadie@
nelliebugs-swaps.blogspot.com

Anonymous said...

Is there a reason that you and so many of your readers ignore the AAP's advice about television viewing for the under-twos?

Sara said...

Speaking of Dan, what happened to the link to his blog? I check in from time to time but don't have it bookmarked. I can't find it anymore.

Emily said...

Sara, it's rantofdan.blogspot.com. I restructed my bloglist.

Jennifer said...

Anonymous, Daniel and Bobby are both over two years old. Emily never said the boys watched before then.

Anonymous said...

Jennifer, how is she stopping the baby from watching in a place the size of hers if her other children are watching all the time?

TV Mom said...

I think the most important thing about watching television, especially with kids, is knowing what they're watching and spending time watching TV with them. I've always wanted to be the one answer their questions if there's something on TV they don't understand. I love that you're using the computer to watch TV. Technology is moving fast now and it really is going to change how we live, get information and are entertained.

Love your blog, Emily. Keep up the good work.

Bubblej said...

We have 3 TV's but we never watch TV. Well, almost never, I watch around 2 hours a week, but that varies based on when I work. If I am working when a show I like is on I MIGHT watch it online, but that depends on what it is and how much I like the show. This summer I went nearly 6 weeks before I noticed that I hadn't watched any TV. I turned on the TV and turned it back off again because there was nothing on.

We watch DVD's and we have our favourite TV shows on DVD, so we can watch them without the ads.

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