Growing up, we never had cable (my parents still don’t) and our little rooftop antenna received just the major networks – NBC, ABC and Fox. Our screen time was limited to one hour before bed and t.v. really never played that big of a part in our daily lives. As a mother of two, I knew I never wanted my kids glued to the television all day long when there’s so much to see and learn outside. Even now, I’m not a huge t.v. watcher and my husband tends to be the biggest culprit of having the television on, even if it’s just in the background – before work, after work, after the kids’ bedtime, sporting events, etc.
While I’m at home during the weekdays with my kids, we watch one hour of Sesame Street each morning and that’s about it. I do understand there are plenty of educational programs on for kids but there’s also a lot of valueless trash. I can’t really control what they see the 2 days I work and am not with them.
I want them to explore and develop their own sense of play and imagination. I want them to become curious about the world and look for their own solutions to problems. I want them to be free-thinkers and march to their own beat. I’m by no mean saying I’m perfect – my house can turn to pure chaos in an instant and nothing is easier/quicker than turning on a half-hour program for my toddler while I regain control of my home. But we definitely do not live in front of our big screen.
My husband was out of town this entire week for work; he left on Sunday and just got home early this morning. When he left, I made a challenge to not turn on our television set at all while he was gone – and I stuck to it. And it was fabulous. Being basically a single mom of two young ones while he’s out of town, my days are long and exhausting so I knew I wanted to fill our week with lots of activities to keep us busy (and keep my sanity intact) and the weather is still so nice for us to enjoy.
So what did we do all week without t.v.?
We went on a walk everyday in nature at the metroparks. We went to an indoor playground to socialize and burn some energy. We baked a homemade peach cobbler from scratch. We went to storytime at the library. We had a picnic at the nature reserve and visited the greenhouse. We rode our bikes and dug in the dirt in my garden. We played dress-up and tea party. We read lots of books. We watered our flowers and picked the ripe green peppers. We wrote in our nature journal and colored pictures. We visited our families and shared in meals.
And what I realized is we do most of this stuff anyways, so why even add t.v. in there? I didn’t miss it at all and my kids most certainly didn’t either.
Plus there are so many scary statistics about television-watching these days:
- Children ages 2-5 spend 32 hours a week in front of a TV—watching television, DVDs, DVR and videos, and using a game console. That’s over 4 hours day!
- Excessive TV viewing can contribute to poor grades, sleep problems, behavior problems, obesity, and risky behavior.
- Inactivity plays a huge role in weight gain, and television watching consumes only a few more calories than sleeping.
- Young children are particularly vulnerable to the influence of commercial advertising and children who watch TV consume more soft drinks and snacks, which are heavily advertised on television.
- Some studies link early TV viewing with later attention problems, such as ADHD. One study found that TV viewing before age three slightly hurt several measures of later cognitive development.
- Two-thirds of all programming contains violence and programs designed for children more often contain violence than adult TV. Even further, most violent acts go unpunished on TV and are often accompanied by humor.
- Researchers found that just being awake and in the room with the TV on more than two hours a day was a risk factor for being overweight at ages three and four-and-a-half and often carries into adulthood.
And I could go on and on about the negative effects of too much t.v. So no couch potatoes here!
Read more about a study completed by the University of Michigan on Television and Children >>