No TV For My Daughter

GA4051_2iwatch-tvIt may sound like a miracle, or even undoable or impossible, but our daughter is almost 13 months old and she has never once watched TV.

I work for a cable company and, let me tell you, it’s true what they say about TV being Picture 6the surrogate parent for children. If I get calls from customers and the cable’ s out while the kids are home there is going to be hell to pay and innocent people will be slaughtered throughout the world and nations will collapse until I get that TV back on.

Why? Because, let’s just get it out there – no one wants to actually spend time with their kids.

Let me disclose here that I am by no means a perfect parent in this regard (but my wife on the other hand…well, let’s just say that without her convictions and strength as a mother, I wouldn’t be writing this post).

We didn’t employ any fancy tricks or adopt some rigorous legalism to abide by. Simply put, we don’t think it’s necessary for a baby or toddler to watch TV. Whether or not it does any harm, what good could it possibly do?

Below are a few reasons why our little girl doesn’t watch TV.

1. The TV is not a babysitter or a go-to

Just as our little girl wouldn’t want to be replaced, we as her parents don’t want to be replaced by anyone or anything. We want to instill in her that we care deeply for her and that if she has problems, her parents – not the TV – are going to help fix things.

funny-reading-book-vs-watching-TV2. TV should not be our primary source of information

Call us old-fashioned, but we don’t believe you can learn everything there is to learn from the boob-tube. Books are where it’s at. That’s where you get all your knowledge and information and build your verbal and writing skills. The Internet, too, can be a source of education, if employed properly, but let’s be honest, the computer’s more fun for games, just as TV is served much better as an entertainment outlet. Let apples be apples and oranges be oranges.

3. I don’t want to watch Playhouse Disney or Spongebob SquarepantsClassicSpongeBob

Let’s be honest. No adult wants to watch those mindless fart-joke happy cartoons day in and day out. If the TV is going to be on, it’s going to be what Mommy and Daddy want to watch, because we’re the ones that pay the cable bill. This also is a great accountability paradigm because it forces us to cut back exponentially on shows that are damaging or inappropriate.

4. What’s wrong with family time?

Now, out of the whole household, I struggle with this one the most. I’m an introvert to a fault and I’m not of the mushy-huggy lovey-dovey persuasion, and would much rather spend my time advancing my career as an author, which can be just as bad as flopping down in front of the TV when my kid wants me to play with her, or my wife wants me to pay attention to her. But I think there’s definitely something to be said for old-fahioned family time, and the TV doesn’t have to be a part of it, at least not all the time.

Now, none of this is to say that we’re never going to let our kids watch TV. But we’re setting the ground rules now that the TV is not the ultimate go-to, that there are other ways to learn about the world, there are better forms of entertainment than cheap cartoons, and that we can, indeed, exist without cable in our lives and actually enjoy each other’s company.

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About Andrew Toy
I'm in the beginning stages of starting my own publishing company that's unlike anything you've ever heard of in the industry. The direction of AdoptingJames is taking a 90-degree turn and will be more writing/publishing-focused. Stay tuned for huge updates and exciting news!

62 Responses to No TV For My Daughter

  1. dreager1 says:

    That’s certainly impressive and keeping the TV away at least for the beginning is pretty good. In moderation it’s not bad, but now it the best time for family time. Your daughter is still young and at an impressionable age so being careful is always good. For family time, my parents would typically play card games like hearts of poker. We also had a variety of board games like Trouble and Parcheezi (Doubt I spelled that right) as well. It’s old school, but they’re always a lot of fun and it’s also nice to know that I’m playing something that has been played for generations. I highly recommend playing a lot of those and there are many games that can be played at home without those as well like tag and hide and seek once she is older.

  2. Yoni says:

    I’m currently somewhere in the middle-I’m still a teenager but whenever I have to babysit my nearly 6 year old niece, I need to put the TV off or on a boring (for her) channel in order not to watch those new cartoons. Honestly said, Dora The Explorer’s way worse than Spongebob Squarepants 😛 However, when you do let her watch cartoons, I am begging you to play her the older like “Tom & Jerry” 🙂
    Thank you for the post. It was both informative and interesting 🙂

  3. Awesome! I used to work in early-childhood mental health and you would not believe (or maybe you would) the number of children who needed to be taught how to use their imaginations and play. Yes…play. I’d take them to the playground and pretend the play-scape was a ship. Three-year-olds would look at me like I was crazy…until they caught on. Yeah for parents who turn off the tube.

  4. How totally refreshing it is to hear your decisions. Your family is richer for this shielding from crazyness on 2 billion channels. I have a niece and nephew that were babysat by a tV and their lives show it… in all the worst possible ways. The messages of TV are not often healthy or good… and i myself shut the box off a year ago and live without it effectively!!! Thanks for a wonderful article.

  5. puppytd says:

    You are so wise not to even let it get started because once it starts, kids are addicted!

  6. Ritu says:

    All I can say is Well Done!!!

  7. productivechanges says:

    Love this post. Think you’re spot on with all your points and its great to hear when watching tv has become an almost zombie like act for parents and children. I’m seeing loads of stuff about how we kinda need to go back to basics and its great to see, really enjoyed your post!

  8. Bravo!!! I love this! We are on a 30 day challenge to rid ourselves of TV. It has been our fall back since being sick! Thanks for confirming what I all ready believed. People don’t want to spend time with their kids, they would rather just plop them in from TV. I am glad to see someone else be bold and say it!!
    ~m

  9. I’m sure you’re right with this. How wise!

  10. George says:

    I don’t disagree at all. Too many parents use TV as an excuse at the expense of a child reading quietly and using their imagination in other creative ways. But I also believe TV, in a controlled,moderate environment, also has some advantages. Children should be exposed to all reasonable forms of stimulation. It not only helps them intellectually but it promotes social interaction with other children. I’ve known parent s who didn’t own a TV until their children were in their teens. That’s the extreme opposite end of the spectrum. Good for you and your family for enjoying this peaceful time.

    • I do believe there are two extremes, and we certainly hope to stay balanced with this issue. Good news is, toddlers don’t talk much with each other about their favorite shows, that I know of. But our kids will definitely be catechized in the ways of popular Disney/Pixar movies.

  11. thatssojacob says:

    My parents were similar but with video games. To them (I guess) TV was a finite thing, they’d just say “turn it off and do something else” and we’d usually do that. And if they were in the room, we watched what they wanted to watch. Otherwise, they didn’t restrict our TV watching that much. They did not, however, let us play video games, or even own any, theorizing that while you only have to get one TV (this is in the pre-HD days), video gaming systems are constantly changing, growing, breaking, being discontinued, plus the cost of games. No Game Boy, NES, Wii, Sega, X Box, anything (of course, most of those were not around). So video games were something we did at cousins’/friends’ homes, and that made it more exciting and unique. We’d complain on the ride home that we were no good at them, and could we have some, but once home, with TV, books, games, and other things, we’d forget about it.

  12. busy lady says:

    Good going! This is great.

  13. Everything about this post is wonderful and inspiring. I’m glad there are still parents like you out there who value actual time with their children. Because those are the children that will grow up to be healthy, well-adjusted adults who can shape the world is wonderful ways. Thank you, thank you, thank you.

  14. Great article! I cringe when I see little ones propped in front of the TV while parents are else where.

  15. Jess says:

    Reblogged this on CPH Mom and commented:
    I have to admit that my 10 month old has watched TV. GASP!

    The other week when he was really ill and was too tired to even sit up on his own, we snuggled on the couch while watching a classic Danish kids’ show, Bamse og Kylling. Even now, I feel slightly guilty about it, but I try to tell myself that in moderation, it can’t be that bad. Right?

    And what are you supposed to do if you’re trying to get dinner on the table, your partner isn’t home yet, and your little one won’t stop screaming while you’re in the kitchen preparing it? I don’t feel comfortable having the baby in the kitchen while cooking, because accidents can happen when hot, sizzling things are involved. In my opinion, I think the safer choice would be to let the kid watch a little television.

    If other days, the TV is off and we’re playing with scarves, bubbles, or balls, how could a few minutes of television really hurt?

    • I’m definitely not against kids watching TV in moderation – and what the parents choose. It’s three years and under I feel is not necessary. When my wife is cooking dinner, she either holds our daughter (if she can), lets her play with her toys or our dogs, or if she’s choosing to have a fit, my wife will delay dinner to try to comfort her and if she’s still being fitful, she will ignore her until she is ready to have a good attitude. Me? If I’m in the kitchen, I turn the music on really loud and dance and do flips while I’m cooking something and the baby is thoroughly entertained by it all.

    • Thing we have to remember is, our ancestors had a lot more kids and no television to entertain them. Our modern inventions are wonderful, but they’re not necessities.

      • Jess says:

        I’d like to also point out, our ancestors lived a very different life style than modern day people. Village-style life meant you could have your kids play at the next hut over, or another mom could bring over a casserole if you were that desperate. The inventions are not necessities, of course, but they are (poor) substitutes for a community and network that we used to have.

        • Val_ToWriter says:

          I think your point is a good one. Life style has changed so much. I’ve always felt that if both parents work, when they pick up the kids and get home they’re pretty stressed, and quality time is going to be at a minimum. Often people don’t have family in the immediate area any more so it’s hard to ask for and get help; and neighborhoods aren’t the same as they used to be when I was a child. When we got home from school, we went outside and played with other kids. My mother would yell out when dinner was ready, and we’d come running home. Obvious seasons made a different, but we were always in each other houses, too. Even stay-at-home parents are more pressured to have their kids in preschool, sports, ballet, etc. etc. Running around several day a week is not uncommon.

  16. That is so amazing. I definitely believe that TV is the new babysitter and that what these kids watch can be really damaging. Good for you and your family for doing something about it!

  17. Lisa McAfee says:

    Great post! My children were 12 and 8 when we got rid of our television. I got tired of saying, “We don’t act like that in our home.” My children were in no way deprived of electronic media as we rented family movies and they had all of the electronic games, gadgets and our family computer. However, we did limit the amount of time they could spend on them. I believe it is our responsibility to raise our children and be mindful of what they watch and listen to until they can be accountable themselves.

    P.S. I came by for a visit after not being by in a long while. I was reviewing my list of blog followers and saw your name. Thanks for following. (schoolmarmohio.com)

  18. Sahar says:

    Isn’t this such a difficult debate? On the one hand, television should definitely not be a surrogate parent, and just because a show is labelled for children doesn’t make it good for them. On the other, television is part of our social reality, and we need to teach children to have a healthy relationship with them. And it’s nice sometimes to sit with your child and watch a show together instead of running around after them! Perhaps a moderate approach would be best?

    • That’s what we’re after. We don’t intend to shield our kids from TV altogether, but we will not allow the TV to broadcast mindless junk just to have on as a distraction.

  19. thewriteedge says:

    I admire your resolve to keep your daughter from watching TV. We have a similar situation when it comes to fast food — as in, we don’t eat it. At all. My daughters are 8 and 6 and have never eaten in a fast food restaurant. As you say about the TV, what good could it possibly do them?

  20. We chose to drastically limit our sons’ TV options, from having no TV in the home at all to limited time, to no cable [only videos], etc over the years. Where I lost the battle was on computers, a hazard of being married to an otherwise wonderful computer geek. We did make sure that in their formative years they had a lot of ‘electronics free’ time, which led to plenty of creative play that I believe serves them well now as adults.

    Kudos to you for thinking about this now and making deliberate choices on your daughter’s behalf!

  21. Val_ToWriter says:

    My daughter just had her fifth child before Christmas. Two of her kids (0-8) are in school, and she has to pick them up every day. When they get home (like all kids), they’re off the wall — even moreso because they’re boys and need the physical activity. She has them pretty well organized. Usually a nice snack, the homework. Then, while she cooks dinner, they watch TV — mostly stuff on Netflix or DVDs so they don’t watch commercials. That calms them a bit, although they still attack Daddy when he gets home! My daughter needs that quiet time to make cook (and now feed the baby) and so do they to unwind and calm. If you haven’t watched Veggie Tales, a Christian video series, you might want to check it out. There are so other nice kids shows, too. You just have to be very selective both in time and quality.

  22. Val_ToWriter says:

    PS: I see almost no value in video games. Kids don’t need to get hooked on a computer or device too early. I also dislike videos in cars; that time with kids can be used much more constructively.

  23. That’s a very interesting idea you have… I’d love to see the educational and emotional results of a TV raised kid compared to one who was raised without. I’ll have to search and see if any studies have been done on the subject.

    I’ll say one thing… Kids were being raised just fine BEFORE TV was invented, and frankly, I wish smartphones HADN’T been invented.

  24. Pingback: Why I Took My One-Year-Old to See “The Good Dinosaur” | adoptingjames

  25. Annie says:

    Even though I own a t.v., I prefer to read real books not ones downloaded on a computer.

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