Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Screen Time Confessions

I'm reading Boys Adrift with my preschool co-op, and last nights discussion was on video games and screen time. I admitted that my middle son watches, on average, an hour in the afternoon when his younger brother is napping, older is at school, and his mommy needs a break. There was one gasp and one person said, "Oh that is not good." Thanks guys! Wow, talk about guilt. I was actually a little annoyed because I figure that whenever someone says they only let their kids watch a certain amount of TV, you can just add another 30 to 45 mins. to that and you'll almost get accurate picture. (Like sex...husbands always think it is less times during the week and wives always think it has occurred more.) "Good moms" do not want to do the unthinkable, which is expose their children's brains to too much multimedia.

As our discussion progressed, moms came "out of the closet" and admitted:

1. One day I let my son watch 6 hours.
2. Well, when it is raining we watch a lot of TV.
3. Yeah, it is always more than I say.

The things is, I'm always battling it with my boys...and my husband. And I realize the dangers, and I do enforce limits. I'm always trying to find ways to cut back, so maybe the first step in cutting back is being honest.

So, I'm going to actually keep track, and I'm actually going to post, and I'm actually going to let you all know what is actually going on with screen time this week. AND! You cannot judge me or make me feel bad or try and make yourself feel better with this information. Maybe we can all just do a little bit better during this week. It'll be our Lent! Fitting, right?

(Note: my youngest is watching Veggie Tales while I type this.)


Genny said...

Mine is watching Cat in the Hat as I read this. :) It goes in waves for us. More when we have new movies from the library, less when we don't. Mine have learned lots from tv. They enjoy it when the get the word right that the show is trying to get them to read.

Sally said...

Big source of Mom guilt here too, Rebecca. Quite a while back (maybe a year ago?) we stopped letting them turn it on before school. I find that now they don't ask to turn it on when they get up on the weekends. It was an easy habit to break. For those gasping that I would EVER allow TV before school... it's what happens when your kids wake up waaaaaaaaaaaay before you're ready to be awake. And you're nursing. And you're just trying to make it through. How much do they watch? I'm really not sure. TV isn't as time sapping as the Wii. My middle son would play all day if I let him (I don't). It's easy for me to get absorbed in something and not realize he's still playing. AND with 3 boys if we do have some downtime when we're all together, it's not uncommon for us to allow them to EACH pick one "pre-school" friendly 20 minute show. So there you have my life in a nut-shell. :)

Jennifer said...

I am totally guilty of letting the boys watch more than they should. So now it's an annual tradition that we turn off the cable (yes, completely!) in the spring to ensure the boys spend more of the sunshine months outside!
That being said, if someone gets sick, I pull out the DVD's without any guilt at all and let them watch as much as they want. Sometimes even T.V. is a huge blessing!

Heather said...

Mine watch way to much TV, especially in the winter months, when we can't get outside. Then during the summer they barely watch it at all. I hope it evens out, but I am sure they still watch way more than they should, but at times we all need a break and there is just so much "help" that I can use.

Jessica said...

The way I figure it, I watched Sesame Street, Smurfs, & Care Bears, and I still turned out okay! :) I agree with Sally that the TV is very nice, especially early in the morning, when my responses to my dear girls is less than noteworthy.

Rebekah said...

True Jessica. When I was little I watched Sesame Street and Mr. Rogers, so and 1 and 1/2 each day, and then as I got older I think I watched Little House, Fat Albert, He Man (Yep,true.) and sometimes Electric Company, so like 3 hours in the after-school hours. Oh and in the evening I'd often watch another hour. So, like 4 hours of TV! I also think I may have turned out OK. Or not.....I think one difference is that when my shows were over it was over because there were not videos or Netflix etc. So, parents do have to be better and saying no because really you could watch and play computer all the time, literally.

heather said...

Growing up, I watched way more television than my kids watch. I sometimes I use that to comfort myself-as in "I turned out okay". But, honestly, I have no idea how much we watch. We go days without turning the television on and then this last rainy Saturday the kids spent hours and hours in front of the screen between Wii time and watching movies. Today, I have a cold and my voice is scratchy so we watched a docudrama and a biography movie for school instead of doing our normal school work.

I used to worry more about how much we watched, now I mostly focus on watching quality programs (we don't have "t.v.", only movies, netflix, the computer and the Wii-which is all more than enough for us) and on making sure we are balanced in how we spend our time, overall.

Jen Rouse said...

I used to let the kids watch at least 1/2 hour in the morning (while I was in the shower) and often another 1/2 hour in the afternoon. That's minimum, not maximum!!

However, last year I stopped letting them watch it on school mornings (which is M-F) for us, because it was so hard to drag them away from the screen when it was time to brush their teeth, get shoes on, etc.

They might make up the difference on weekends though, because on Saturday mornings we'll let them watch it for several hours. Sundays a little less because we have to leave for church. Friday nights we often all watch a movie (or kids watch one movie and Mom and Dad watch something else on the computer in the office).

Also, Lucy spends half an hour or more playing games like PBS kids on the computer, most weekdays, because while she's pretty good about staying occupied during naptime, she gets bored and I usually give in after an hour or so and let her play on the computer at the end of naptime.

And then there are some random evenings when we're tired and the kids are cranky and we let them veg on the couch.

Like Heather, we don't have "TV," but we have DVDs from the library, Netflix, Hulu, a Wii and computer games...so there's plenty of screen time going on here. Even though I feel guilty about it sometimes.

Pat said...

There was a time years ago, when each person in the family had so many coupons a week for their watching allowance. If someone was using their coupon to watch something, others could not watch it too without using their coupons. It wasn't that hard to manage.