whether or not to let the kids watch tv, that was one of the questions we tackled when our first wee one was our only wee-wee one. we haven’t had cable in many, many years and when bear was a baby we had a tiny tv, which was perfect for all those friends reruns we could watch thanks to our powerful rabbit ears! we never let bear watch tv or encouraged it, for that matter.
|[ we had just moved into our house, everything was still chaotic. ]|
|[ i used to plonk lion with bear to watch tv, so i could vacuum a room quickly.
not that i condone babies watching tv.]
it wasn’t until i was looking and feeling like a beached whale during my pregnancy with lion, that i really started to let 2.5 year old bear watch stuff. i needed the break, he had given up napping and so i would put on treehouse on my laptop, so that i could sit and nod off for a few z’s. he loved “toopy & binoo” and would eventually fall asleep watching those guys. we then go into the habit of getting DVD’s from the library, which introduced us to a whole new world of shows and characters. it worked well for us. as parents we held on tight to the control of what and when and how much he would watch.
Even though we hadn’t had cable in years, I do sometimes wish that we could’ve provided bear with more choice of things to watch. And, seeing as Nickelodeon had 611 thousand viewers in 2019, according to these favourite tv show statistics, it would’ve opened his eyes to more wonders and imaginations. But, he seemed to enjoy what was already in front of him so we just decided to continue with it.
that was the summer bear became obsessed with “bob the builder”. i actually think it’s one of the better kids shows. our kids are not allowed to watch a few of the popular shows, like “caillou”. he’s a brat and rude to his mother, no thanks! and “max and ruby” where the boy always comes in and saves the day and rescues the girl. no thanks! and, don’t get me going on dora, who yells so much or thomas who uses language that I don’t believe is acceptable for wee ears. then there are the shows that my kids just wont watch, because they are still too scary!
|[ bear asleep in front of the laptop, as usual, watching something. ]|
I am fully aware of how much screen time bear and lion take in. some weeks they watch a handful of hours, other weeks way too much. but, I have to let it go and not feel too guilty, because on those weeks that i let them watch more, I am probably sick and looking for an easy break!
For us, the biggest concerns surrounding television watching has been the advertising. There is so much advertising directed at kids out there, that by removing commercial television from our home, we felt we were protecting our kids and ourselves. Of course, there’s much less chance of advertisements online with streaming services in canada which is why they’re sometimes better than cable televison. Not only are they cheaper, there is also much more selection, especially for kids. Due to our decision to avoid cable television, our kids have never asked for a toy, because they were never enticed by the visions of colourful commercials. they have never asked to go to certain fastfood restaurants, like mc donalds, who are some of the biggest offenders of directing advertising at kids! (in fact, our kids have no idea mc donald’s even exists, they’ve never been there!)
|[ there’s lion with his buddy watching television. this kid NEVER falls asleep watching a show! ]|
last fall, we purchased a big ol’ shiny flat screen that hangs on the wall and the kids watch netflix on it. i felt like i had given into mainstream pressures of keeping up with the jones’ and initially felt quite uncomfortable with the huge screen in our living room. but, i got over it! i brought perspective into my life again, reminding myself that the kids are watching commercial free shows, and we as the parents, control what they watch and when. So, it’s not like they have free rein over what they watch and when. Although, they like to think they do. But with every person who binge-watches a boxset, the inevitable is always bound to happen – running out of things to watch. Luckily, our friends have pointed us in the direction of a company like Humax Direct to see if we can find a TV service that’s right for us. They’ve recently bought a YouView box from there, and they’ve said it’s the best thing they’ve ever done because there are so many programs, both for kids and adults to watch, without ever running out of choice. And with our new flat screen tv, this could come in good use. But we’re still weighing up the pros and cons. We have to think about our children’s watching habits after all.
the kids are only allowed to watch tv in the afternoons, after nap or after school depending on the day. sometimes on the weekends we will have a family movie night and watch a movie after dinner. the kids are not permitted to watch anything in the mornings, especially before school or before bed. it just works for us to keep things consistent and regimented. plus, the more time the kids spend in front of the tv, the less time they are interacting with each other or with us. and that human interaction really is so important for kids.
but, as technology changes, so do our rules around screen time. i am curious what other parents do, especially now that kids have their own computers, have access to ipads or other tablets, play games on their parents smart phones or just want to sit back and watch a show on tv. what are your limits in your home?
happy tv watching!