On Watching Television

April 29, 2012

Dear Children,
We own a TV, but you're rarely allowed to watch it.  It has zero channels so the only thing you can do on it is watch an occasional movie or play the Wii.  We also have a rule that there's no TV during the week, only on weekends.  It's something that you're so used to you, you don't really think about it too much.

When we lived in NV there was a going away get-together for one of my friends at a yogurt shop.  I thought it was for the entire family, but when I got there I found out that it was only for the mom's.  Luckily, there was a TV and a couch so the four of you sat very quiet and content for over an hour while the mom's and I visited.  All my friends were shocked that you would sit and be so good, but I explained to them that you hardly ever get to watch TV so you were quite happy to sit and gape at it.

Just in case it becomes an issue in later years, here are some reasons why we have such strict rules.  I've included some quotes to back me up.  :)

1.  I don't like fighting. 
Children are imitators and those who watch violent shows are more likely to display aggressive behavior. They are more likely to “strike out at playmates, argue, and disobey authority” according to the American Psychological Association Help Center.  

"Today, watching television often means fighting, violence and foul language - and that's just deciding who gets to hold the remote control." -Donna Gephart  (Funny and so true.)

My kids already fight and argue enough as it is, so why would I let them watch programs that encourage fighting and disrespect?  Even cartoons and the Disney Channel aren't safe.  They're full of fighting, disrespect for adults, crude humor, and sarcasm. 

2.  I think TV's are ugly.  
In most homes today the first thing you see when you walk in is a big ol' television.  All the couches are turned to it and it's the main focus of the room.  I'd rather not have a TV in the main rooms of the house and the one's we do have I like to tuck away in cabinets so you can at least close the doors.  This living room would look so much better without the big ugly black box:
living room design
3.  You already have everything you need. 
There are thousands of commercials seen on TV each year and many of them are for products that I don't want to encourage you to have.  Alcohol, junk food or fast food, the newest toy gadget, etc.   Plus, many items advertised use sex to sell them and that just bugs me to no end.

"In general my children refuse to eat anything that hasn't danced on television."  -Erma Bombeck

I also don't want to encourage materialism.  When we lived in Korea I was pretty content with our tiny apartment, lemon car, and sparse furnishings.  We didn't want for much because no one else in the village had much either.  Suddenly, when we moved back to the US we wanted so much more.  What we had was no longer enough because that's what society teaches... you can never have too much.

4.  There are better things to do.
Watching television takes away from important activities such as reading, school work, playing, exercise, family interaction, and social development.  These are the things I would rather you do:

Make forts 

Play with toys

Play with Friends

Read books

Play Outside

Use your Imagination

 5.  I used to be addicted to TV.
Yep, I'm owning up to it.  There have been two times in my life when I've fallen into a depression and the TV sucked me in and it became an outlet to get away from the world.  As much as I hated it (because it made me even more depressed watching pointless shows all day) I couldn't seem to escape it.  I was willing to watch anything and everything and I would usually follow my TV watching with a nap.  I would wake up and half the day was gone.  I'd snap out of it for awhile, but about 7:00pm the shows would come on that were actually semi-interesting so I would turn the tube back on to watch for a few more hours.  Pretty much the whole day was wasted.

"The television, that insidious beast, that Medusa which freezes a billion people to stone every night, staring fixedly, that Siren which called and sang and promised so much and gave, after all, so little."
-Ray Bradbury, The Golden Apples of the Sun

6. Television isn't real.
According to the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry children learn information from television that may be inappropriate or incorrect.  They often can not tell the difference between the fantasy presented on television versus reality. 

"Television is not real life.  In real life people actually have to leave the coffee shop and go to jobs."    
-Bill Gates

A few more reasons it's misleading: there are rarely consequences to people's actions and it glamorizes immoral behavior.

7.  I'm a lazy parent.
I know there are good programs that teach and inspire, but I'm not not willing to take the time to do what raisesmartkid.com suggests:

"Choose what your kids watch.  When the chosen show is over, turn the TV off.  Make sure you choose shows that promote positive values that you want your kid to adopt -  like being kind, responsible, and cooperative.  Watch with your kid, and talk to him about the show that you’ve watched after it’s over.  Explain disturbing images to him, and that conflicts can be resolved without violence.  Also, characters in movies can do things that real people cannot.  Let him know the difference between what is real and what is not.  Encourage your kid to make TV viewing an active learning experience, rather than a passive one."

See?  I told you I'm lazy.   Much too lazy to monitor everything my children watch and then have a chat with them afterwards to make sure it's educational and uplifting.  

I hope you still love me, 

P.S.  As always, these are my opinions and I don't expect anyone to adopt them as their own.  I'm just sharing lessons I've learned along the way of life.


  1. I love this post! I am very careful about what I let Zack watch, but sometimes it's the quantity that's the problem. Like the fact that it's been on all morning because Ruby and I were up all night. Thank you for the information as well, something we all need to be careful of.

  2. I agree with you so much. We will never have cable and movies will be a privilege for our kidos cause it is true you get addicted and Reed and I have definitely been there and I don't like it. It's much better to get out and do something different.