It’s TV time!

This post may contain affiliate links. This means, if you make a purchase through one of my links, I may receive a very small commission at no additional cost to you. Thank you!
TV time is a very important time at our house.  Well, at least my three year old thinks it is.  Like most kids his age he is completely entranced by the characters he sees on his movies and on television.  Oh, and we all know how nice it is for mom when a kid will sit quietly on the couch for a couple hours without interrupting you every five minutes with “Mom, I need…”.  Sometimes you just want to get stuff done, you know what I mean?!
So what’s the big deal?  You need to get stuff done.  Why not just turn on the TV?  It’ll keep ’em quiet….you know you want to.
Well, you may want to.  Heck, we all want to, but should you?  Why is there always that nagging feeling of guilt in the back of that cranium of yours that makes you think that perhaps you’re letting them watch too much.
Lets ask the American Academy of Pediatrics why you’ve got this nagging feeling of guilt (they know lots of stuff):

…the American Academy of Pediatrics strongly discourages television viewing for children ages two years old or younger, and encourages interactive play.
For older children, the Academy advises no more than one to two hours per day of educational, nonviolent programs, which should be supervised by parents or other responsible adults in the home.

Knowing that we parents might not be so keen on the idea of not being able to employ a media-nanny they gave us some reasons why television viewing may not be the most enriching activity for the kiddos:

In general, while watching television, your child is probably not doing any of the following:

  • Asking questions
  • Solving problems
  • Being creative
  • Exercising initiative
  • Practicing eye-hand coordination
  • Scanning (useful in reading)
  • Practicing motor skills
  • Thinking critically, logically, and analytically
  • Practicing communication skills
  • Playing interactive games with other children or adults (helpful for developing patience, self-control cooperation, sportsmanship)
Also, as AAP points out, numerous studies have found that excessive television viewing can lead to attention problems in children.
 They are careful to make the point that some TV viewing can be beneficial if the parents choose quality, age appropriate programs.  I would add that when your child is watching a program, help them get the most out of it by (depending on the age of the child) pointing out or asking about the emotions the characters are feeling, why they are feeling that way, or what they are doing.  Ask critical thinking questions like, “what do you think will happen next?”, “why did so and so do that?”.   You can ask these same types of questions later in the day (especially good for younger children).  This will help with information retention and relaying skills.
Probably the most difficult age to regulate media time  is when the kids get older and start playing video games (yep, that 2 hour TV viewing time now becomes 2 hours total for all you child’s media needs–TV, computer, video games).  A recent study found that 3rd, 4th, and 5th grade children who exceeded the AAP’s two hour recommendation for TV and video games are “1.5 to 2 times more likely to be above average in attention problems”.  Interestingly, and kind of frighteningly, young adults “showed a similar association, suggesting that early video game exposure may have lasting consequences”.
So, I think we can conclude that “Start ’em while they’re young” might not be the best slogan for child television viewing.  When you do decide to “start ’em” just remember a little in moderation can be great if you choose quality programs and stay involved.

What do you like to do to make sure your kiddos don’t sit in front of the TV all day?

Want to read more? Visit:

About Amy @ Oh So Savvy Mom

Amy is mom to three, wife to one, and a sister and aunt to many. Her family is a former military family now settled in Lehi, Utah. Oh So Savvy Mom began as a way for Amy to share parenting and product advice with others. Just as she has evolved, Oh So Savvy Mom has evolved into a resource for Healthy Living for Families, Food, Parenting, and Family Travel.


  1. We do lots of other quiet games: playdoh, coloring, reading (lots of reading), felt people, I Spy. And then there are the loud games pots and pans drums, baths, hide-and-seek, free museums on campus, baking. We keep the TV downstairs and away from the main living area to make it less of a temptation.
  2. Crystal Escobar says
    My daughter is in the worst habit. I've had her watching movies to go to sleep at night, every night since she was probably 18 months old. Gosh, I'm such a bad mom. I really try to limit it though out the day. I tell her she can only watch tv for quiet time and bed time, doesn't always work that way, but I seriously need to crack down on this a little better.
  3. Sometimes I think I am way strict with my children and TV watching, but I have a few friends that are way more so than I am and it serves them very well. I am trying to wean us off the TV and do better some days than others. We are at about 1 movie a day or 1 hour a day at the most. If they do watch they are only allowed to have it on either PBS station. Those shows are fairly tame (not perfect in my opinion), but the fact that kids are exposed to very minimal advertising on PBS is very important to me.

    My kids love to draw, water color, play make believe, and now that they are old enough 6 and 4 (big YAY) they can play outside on their own. When little sister is awake I will take her out to play and sit and read or something else while they play.

    I have to say that when my kids have a structured morning without TV and minimal TV during the day it is so much more peaceful in our house. I can also say that I am very familiar with the opposite of having too much TV during the day or week. My boys are much MUCH more likely to act out their aggression and have temper-tantrums throughout the day or week.
  4. When I was pregnant (in my third trimester) with my second Big Brother watched a LOT of TV. Once I felt recovered enough I had to put Big Brother through detox. It wasn't pretty, but we were both happier. I was happier because I didn't feel so guilty that he was watching TV all day, and he was happier because I spent more time interacting with him doing things like playing games, having learning time, and going outside to play.
    Big Brother still asks to watch a lot (the TV is in the family room where all his toys are so it's a constant temptation), but he knows he is only allowed to watch one movie, or 3 shows on PBS Kids, per day so it's not too hard to regulate.
  5. Well, I can't speak for the experience of raising a child on limited television. But, I have a few years of experience living without a TV in my home. I spend more time cooking, crafting, reading, talking to my spouse, going for walks, watching my fish tank,(and when I was in school, giving more focused attention to my homework), etc. :) The quiet is refreshing I think.

    I like this post and the pics, Amy. I think the list of things your child is probably not doing while watching TV is shocking and makes a great point. Maybe what America's children need most is not more prescriptions for Ritalin, but just fewer unaided hours in front of the tube and little more parental interaction?
  6. All I have to say is Amen, Jami.
  7. I'm a mean mom! My kids are 12, 14, 15, and 17 and I don't allow TV or gaming during the week. They are all involved in sports and school activites and homework was suffering. We've done this for about four years now and let's just say, my kids LOVE school breaks and summer
  8. I don't think that's mean at all. I think it's great! When you are involved in after school activities there really isn't time for much else other than homework and the very important family time.
  9. This is SO something that I struggle with! My Mister and I both work from home, long hours - and have a toddler. We take turns working, so someone is always around to play and interact with her. But I am guilty of sometimes setting her down to watch a movie when I have a deadline. We're lucky though - her very favorite videos are the Baby Signing Time series. She knows around 150 words already as a 19 month old, and can sign over half of those. It helps relieve some of that mommy guilt! :) Finding balance in everything in the mommy life is so hard!