/**/ The Purposeful Wife: Why I'm Not a Big Kids and T.V. Fan

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Why I'm Not a Big Kids and T.V. Fan

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I might have mentioned once or twice {heh} that I really don't like my kids to watch much t.v. It's an area I'm constantly trying to find balance in. I often fail to meet my own standards, and my kids have watched much more t.v. in their lives than I'd prefer.

A lot of people wonder why I feel this intensely about television. I've been told I need to relax, to give myself grace, and that it's not as huge of an issue as I think it is.

Frankly, everyone who has told me these things is probably right!

Television is not the end of the world, and plenty of kids grow up simultaneously with television & good character, intelligence, and creativity. So I'm trying not to sweat it when I find myself in a season of relying more heavily on television for my kid's entertainment.

And if you don't feel strongly about t.v, we can still be good friends! Every family has got to decide what works for their household and how screen time best lines up with their personal preferences, convictions, and values.

But in case you were wondering why I feel so strongly about the issue, here is the reasoning behind my position.

1. It's the way I was raised. My mom was pretty strict about the amount of t.v. we watched as kids. Usually we could watch one or two shows on a weekday afternoon, and cartoons Saturday morning. We might enjoy a family movie on the weekend. Otherwise we were kicked outside to play! We rode bikes, roller skated, climbed trees, read books, and built stuff.

Looking back, I can't say I remember many cartoons that I watched. They hold little significance to me as an adult. The many creative games I enjoyed with my sisters, on the other hand, are still a source of fond enjoyment in my memory storehouse. We had a ball as kids!

2. Bad attitudes. I've noticed a direct correlation between t.v. watching and increased whining, rebellion, and general crankiness in my kids. If less screen time means more joyful and peaceful family life, I am definitely willing to sacrifice it.

3. I don't want my kids to miss out. I remember reading in the intro of this book that the author wasn't concerned with television viewing in and of itself, so much as what little ones aren't doing while watching; exploring, coloring, being read to, baking, getting fresh air, etc.

Last year I read Catherine Steiner-Adair's book The Big Disconnect: Protecting Childhood and Family Relationships in the Digital Age, and I remember being especially concerned about the negative impact developmentally on babies and toddlers {from both their watching time, and watching their caregivers stare at screens}. I highly recommend this book as you consider the place of screens in your family's life!

The early years are both short and formative. Our kids need plenty of empty time and space to learn about the world around them.

4. Educational advantages. According to The Read Aloud Handbook, studies have shown that kids' academic performances begin to suffer if they watch more than 11 hours a week. Kids who watched 11 hours or less demonstrated no significant difference from kids who watched no t.v. at all. Moderation seems to be the key as far as education is concerned.

What about all of the educational programs? Also from The Read Aloud Handbook, the educational benefit kids enjoy from these programs noticeably drops off after age 10. Yes, kids might grow their vocabulary, learn facts, and memorize numbers and letters in their early years {personally, our family loves Little Einsteins and Magic School Bus!}. But as they grow it shifts to mere entertainment. Not necessarily a bad thing, just something to keep in mind.

5. Screens are addictive. On a spiritual level, I'm concerned that my children will have such an appetite for screens that they have no love for weightier, eternal things. In my own life I see how compelling screens can be- oh how I crave that down time with Netflix or Facebook- and I want both myself and my children to love God, His Word, and people more.

Nancy Leigh DeMoss's words strike my conscience often: "Children will cultivate an appetite for whatever they are fed in their earliest, formative years. I have known young people from 'committed' Christian homes who know more about movie stars and rock groups than they do about the patriarchs or the disciples. They can sing along with all the top hit songs but do not know the great hymns of the faith. I can only assume they have an appetite for what they have been exposed to" {Lies Women Believe, page 175}.

6. I want us to be book people! I read for fun, and I want my kids to read for fun too. We live in an increasingly alliterate society- I want to fight the tide and raise my little humans to love and live on the written word! If my kids are getting their appetite for story and entertainment filled by me reading aloud to them, I believe its a win-win for us all.

7. Treats are best enjoyed in moderation. Because my kids watch less than the average amount of t.v, when it is on they really focus on it. This could be a good or a bad thing ;). Friday family movie night feels like a big treat when they've only watched a few short programs {or none at all} throughout the rest of the week.

Just like I don't want my kids gorging themselves on sweets everyday, I want them to consume limited and controlled amounts of media as they grow. My hope is that they will learn to regulate their appetites for entertainment {and sugar! ha} so that as adults they are self-controlled and disciplined in these areas.

Lest you develop an inaccurate view of our habits, my kids do watch t.v. Many afternoons you can find them parked on the couch for a half an hour or two. What I aim for is serious limitation- I don't mind if they watch one program a day, although I'm always happy when we skip it for a few days altogether. I also aim to hit all the important activities each day- if they are getting outside, coloring or crafting, playing creatively, helping in the kitchen, doing chores, and listening to me reading... probably a little t.v. won't do much harm.

When we are sick or I'm feeling run down and overwhelmed, I will allow more extended screen time. I'm always fluctuating, never quite feeling like I've reached the ideal. These are the guiding principles that cause me to persevere in limiting screen time and finding that ever elusive appropriate balance.

I'll leave you to judge if I'm extreme or not. Please do tell what you agree and disagree with, how you decide how much and what your kids can watch, and anything else of interest in the comments! I love hearing how different families weigh in on these issues.

I feel the need to say it again- truly, all is grace my friends! My desire isn't to cast judgment or paint a black and white set of rules here, just to share why I land where I do and hear your thoughts on the issue. Thank you for making this a nice place to converse on the internet!

P.S: You might also like Gentle Ways to Cut Back on Your Child's Screen Time.

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