Thursday, May 27, 2010

Limiting Screen Time

I think Phil and I are strict parents when it comes to a couple things.

One is sleep. Our friends and family are amazed and shocked to see us putting our kids to bed at 6:30, and even more surprised that they willingly go to bed at that time. No fights, no stalling, we have worn them out and they are ready to sleep. Sure, sometimes they ask for a glass of milk or talk for a couple minutes in bed, but it's hard being perfect ;)

The other hard and fast rule we have around here is limiting screen time. Screen time is the combination of all things involving a screen - tv, movies, computers, video games. And we limit their screen time to an hour a day. Every once in a great while we'll put an old Disney movie on for them to watch (and if I'm in the throes of morning sickness, they get a little extra tv time), but on most days, they only get a half hour to an hour of screen time. There are plenty of summer days that they get no screen time at all because we're having too much fun outside.

I'm not sure why we limit them so much in this area. Maybe it's because Phil and I watch more tv than we'd care to admit, and don't want them falling into the same habits. Perhaps it's because I want to make sure they are being engaged and my kids tend to zone out while watching tv. Or it could be that I see parents who leave their tv's on all day and end up having kids who don't know how to interact socially, or who have nightmares from what they see on the news and other adult shows. Many studies have been done to show the harmful affects of too much screen time, as this article points out.

I would like to raise kids that can be creative and imaginative. Kids that want to figure things out for themselves, and learn by trial and error, instead of watching other people do it. I also want them to be active kids. Childhood obesity is such a problem, and although I struggle to get them to eat veggies, I know they'll gladly run around all day if I let them, so why not let them?

I know that the older they get, the more time they'll need on the computer to complete their school work, and of course we don't have a problem with that. I also realize that the only shows we let them watch are "educational" in nature and do teach them plenty. (I swear that Sesame Street taught my kids how to count and read very early!) But there are also shows that do not.
(I could never undertand the appeal of the Teletubbies)

But for now, they are all so little, and I want to make sure that they are not seeing too much of a world they don't quite understand. We'll take it one small step at a time, and hope it's in the right direction.


  1. Wow! It sounds like you've got your house running smoothly. I completely agree. I think limitations have to be set and standards and expectations of these little ones also are good for them.

    Right now I am struggling to figure out exactly how summer will work around here. I want it to be fun, but I know without our homeschooling pattern and schedule to keep us on task that precious hours can easily just be wasted. I've got dreams for this summer (as I do every sumer) and hope that our family finds a wonderful balance.

    Keep up the good work in your household!

  2. I agree!!! We too limit our screen time with the kids. The exception is a movie once in a while and when I'm on bedrest with a pregnancy during winter...that's tough! Generally speaking though it's limited and I too get the boys outside as much as possible. As far as TV they mostly watch Curious George and Thomas. We do have a Wallace & Gromit video :-)

    We got a Wii last Christmas and the only thing they are allowed to play during the week is the Wii Fit or Wii sports if it is raining. They can play Mario brothers on the weekend only.

    I think some hard rules are good. Keith and I could never understand the love for those silly teletubbies either.

  3. I wish my kids would go to bed earlier, but if they do then I end up awake with them before 6 am which is NOT pleasant! So we stick to an 8 pm bedtime. However no one is in school yet so that could change in the fall.
    We limit screen time as well. Most days the kids watch about 1.5 hours of tv (they don't play video games or use the computer at all yet). Some people are surprised at how little tv they watch but unless I am completely exhausted (like lately) it just isn't necessary in my mind. There are so many other things that they can do! I imagine that after #3 arrives we will have extra tv time for a little while as we all adapt to another kid but hopefully we will get back into a routine as soon as we can.
    It is nice to see that other moms limit tv time to, many of the moms I spend time with have the tv on frequently and don't understand why I limit it.

  4. Holy cow, 6:30? We don't even eat dinner till 8:00 some days. With older kids in so many activities, we have to work around weird schedules. We always eat dinner at the table together, so we eat when everyone is home. Well, sometimes not everyone, but we try. How early do your kids get up? I'm not a morning person, so I like that my kids sleep in.

  5. um... did i miss something here.. morning sickness... if i did, and you are.. congrats!!! if i missed it.. so sorry..

    the TV i can kinda understand.. though i will admit that i probably would let mine do more than just an hour a day...

    BUT 6:30... WOWZERS!!! that blows my stinkin' mind!!! i don't even get home from work till 7:00.. lol- sometimes we don't eat until 8 or 8:30...

  6. Ah, all the time I would have if they went to bed at 6:30 :) As it is, William gets up WAY to early, but maybe he needs and EARLIER bedtime...maybe I will try that tonight :)

    It's wonderful that you are able to limit screen time so much. I wish I did more. Although I do have to say, I don't watch much now, and I was glued to it as a kid :) And I'm happy to say my kids have never seen a soap opera or Oprah or anything like that. I grew up with CBS's soaps in the background!

  7. Good for you! Bedtime and Screen time were two areas I struggled with several years ago, but have since made more limitations. Bedtime around here is still late by many standards {my older two are in bed by 9}, but it is better than what it used to be {no set bedtime at all}. As for screen time, when Sierra was tiny it seemed we had the tv on in the background all the time. Over the last few years, we've changed that, and now it is rarely on. And they don't play video games. The closest would be solitaire ;) Sierra loves that game, and I do let her play it occasionally ;)

  8. That is great! I have tickets for 1/2 hour of media time that I give my kids when they have finished their chores or done their homework. I think it makes them appreciate and choose wisely what they want to spend their media time doing when we do it like that.

    Good for you!



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