How Much TV is Too Much?

Ah, the TV questions. They’ve been floating around since I was a kid, and probably before that. How much television do your kids watch? What do they watch? Do they have TV’s in their rooms?

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As much as every mom would like to say that their kids spend all day doing puzzles, reading books and playing outside, most children spend at least some time in front of the TV. Opinions vary among experts and parents alike about how much is appropriate, but most seem to agree that kids today watch too much. We have a childhood obesity problem in this country that is often attributed to the sedentary lifestyle Americans have become accustomed to, and children are more difficult to entertain without technology.

Growing up, TV was off-limits on school days in my parents’ house, and on weekends we still weren’t allowed to sit in front of it all day. Even though it often frustrated my sister and me, I’m now grateful that we weren’t allowed to spend too much of our time mindlessly watching.

My baby is only seven months old, and cannot yet follow a television show or movie. However, I do have the TV on in the house more than I know I should. Being home and, for the most part, alone during the day with a baby who can’t talk yet, I often have it on. This is not to say that I sit on the couch all day watching, but I often find the background noise comforting. And while I know that William cannot yet understand what he is looking at, I catch him looking at the screen from his bouncer, and when we are in restaurants or stores with TV’s, he often turns toward them and stares.

Don’t get me wrong – I like TV. I enjoy the Real Housewives as much as the next girl and my husband and I sit down to Netflix almost every night after the baby goes to sleep. And I know that there are times during the day, like when a mom is cooking dinner or trying to make a phone call, that it can buy you a few precious minutes without children underfoot. But I know there are many things for William to experience that I don’t want him to miss out on by watching too much TV, and I also want him to participate in more activities that intellectually stimulate him as he grows and develops.

So at the beginning of this parenting journey, I’m trying to decide how to handle this question. I am determined to turn off the TV more during the day because I don’t want William to become too used to it. But eventually I’m going to have to make a conscious decision about how often to let him watch. Just in the mornings when everyone is getting ready to leave? In the evenings when we’re winding down before bedtime? Not at all?

How much TV does your family watch? What limits do you set for your kids?

Emma is mommy to one-year-old William and wife to Bill. She was born and bred in Baton Rouge, attending Episcopal High School, the Manship School of Mass Communication at LSU and the LSU Law Center. Married since 2010, she is loving her new life as a mother. She is an attorney but has limited her practice for now so she can stay home with William full-time, and she feels so fortunate to be able to do that. She is learning as she goes, rejoicing in every milestone and happy moment as well as working her way through the challenges that come with parenting. When she gets a chance, she loves reading, writing, and watching movies. She and Bill are both lucky enough to have their families close by and love spending time with them. She looks forward to seeing her little boy grow and eventually expanding her family. Motherhood has been the most fulfilling role of her life.

1 COMMENT

  1. Good discussion!! Here is a thought…how about playing music instead of having the TV on to provide that much needed background music to otherwise silent home?
    I have a four year old who watches TV while my 2 year old naps and I can get a start on dinner…usually about 1 to1.5 hours. Depends on if he wants a movie or just a TV show. I highly recommend Netflix to help regulate the shows. My 2 year old is in love with danial tiger neighborhood (about 20 minites show) so she gets to watch a show after breakfast and getting dressed….like a reward for getting ready to start the day! My 4 year will also sit and watch too! Which gives mom time to get dressed and ready!
    Once their shows are over the TV is off! The TV may or may not pop back on after my kids are asleep. Usually I’m ready to go to bed as well!
    So my four year old watches 2 hours top of TV and my 2 year old 30 minutes top. Probably not the best, but hey I need breaks too!!!

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