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To TV or Not To TV?

My daughter came home one day and taught me a playground patty-cake rhyme:  "coca cola....  pepsi....  lemonade...  iced tea...."  I stopped her.  I asked, "What's 'pepsi'?"  She shrugged.  Slowly, she said, "You know.  Pepsi is when you shake some liquid and it explodes."   I was amused.  She had no idea what Pepsi was!  She knew what 'coca cola' was; her daddy drinks it maybe a few times a year.  We have since changed the rhyme to "coca cola.... izze...."  She knows and loves the fizzy izze drink.

Anyway, what spurred this anecdote is an email from Sarah who asks about how other urbanMamas and urbanPapas are dealing with TV and videos in their homes:

We have two boys (an almost 3 year old and a 5 month old) who have never watched TvTV or videos. I really wanted to get them excited about reading and in the habit of amusing themselves with active and imaginative play. My husband and I gave up TV in early 2005 and frankly don’t miss it (we’re not totally pure – we do get our movie fix from Netflix).

I love that my son doesn’t recognize a Coke logo and doesn’t ask for silly toys and sugar cereals that are so heavily marketed to young children. I realize, however, that TV is ubiquitous and I am wondering when (if?) to introduce our older son to TV or DVDs.  Do other parents have this dilemma?  When and how do I delve into this and what TV or DVDs do other urbanmamas recommend?

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We occasionally watch something on Youtube. They are short, and the best part is that there are no ads.
It's usually related to something she's doing or in one of her books. If she's been trying on my shoes, I'll search for toddler in shoes. If we reach about a horse or a hippo, I'll search for those. If you get a chance, look for the jessica hippo video - we've watched it at least five times!
I'm eager to hear what parents of older no-TV kids say - I'm kind of hoping we can leave the TV off.

The main thing I would say before this conversation gets rolling is that each family should do what is right for them. No one choice is inherently better than the other. I know, I know, there are studies, but I have a student with an A average, athlete, senior in high school and he watched TV as a kid-- as much as he wanted within reason. He hardly ever watches TV now, except on the weekends and after a phase he gave up game systems and only plays on his computer a few hours a week.

Pick what works for your crew and go with it, modifying it as excess becomes an issue.

Oh yes, the evil tv. It's a wonder anyone born after 1950 learned how to read.

Geez. Unless I'm mistaken, it's possible to turn off the television. It's all about moderation. 12 hours of tv--probably not so good. 1 hour--not going to kill you.

I understand the temptation to keep your kids "pure" (we go through periods of tv, no tv, cable, no cable), but really, once my older son started school, he was hearing about coke and pepsi and all other sorts of things we don't allow in our house. (Until he was 4, he thought soda was juice mixed with seltzer.)

Sometimes, though, the boys just want to kick back and watch some Sesame Street, or maybe even, *gasp*, something not on PBS.

I haven't found that watching tv will affect a child's interest in reading. My sister and I are voracious readers; I never remember EVER seeing our brother read a novel--yet we watched the same amounts of tv growing up (we had to, there was only 1 tv). Even with my boys, my older one loves to read and write (granted, his "reading" is whatever he memorized from us reading to him, and his "writing" is a random assortment of letters on a page, but the letters spell out a story to him). My younger one, not so much a reader (he is only 3), but he loves to set up blocks and little people and act out little stories.

And as far as all the marketing--yeah, pretty much every commercial that comes on, one of the boys will say, "I want that." And I say, "No." Because I'm the mom.

Good comments! We have a tv, and we only watch it together. Mostly videos, and basically PBS since we don't have cable. I mentioned in another post that we watch sports together, and my daughter loves to point to the tv and say "Go Red Sox!" Of course, the commercials during those games can be pretty vile, so I do use the mute a lot. I did try to heed the advice of my doctor and the "experts" and enforce "no tv before 2" and was relatively good at it, except for maybe some Baby Einstein, which now they are saying "dumbs kids down" if not watched properly (whatever). I once had the pleasure to speak to a woman who is an executive at one of the preschool cable channels, and they focus a lot on programming appropriate for the under 2 set. I told her about what I had heard about no tv before 2, and she told me for every expert that says tv before 2 is a problem, there is one who will tell you that it is helpful in the learning process. I agree that this is the case with many things that apply to children, but still I have used mostly non-commercial tv and videos, and mostly when I just don't have the energy to come up with something else to do with my rambunctious toddler!

We are a "everything in moderation" kind of family...so, we drink a glass of wine with dinner, try to shop local but still find ourselves in the big box stores on a regular basis, and yes, we watch TV. We have TiVo, so there is little to no commercial watching, which is lovely. But mostly, the shows that Anders (3) watches are either PBS or Noggin, which are basically commercial free anyway. Anders also has a good collection of Norwegian DVDs that we let him watch occasionally--they are usually our first choice, because we like to think it helps with his Norwegian language skills....a little "culture".

Having said that, we have gone through periods where Anders has watched one show a day (30 minutes) and some when he has only watched one show per week. We see a huge difference in his behavior based on how much tv he has watched--the more tv, the worse his behavior--which I find very interesting. So, we do everything we can to limit it to one show a week, usually on Saturday mornings or afternoons, but not before bed--I'm concerned about too much "screen time" before bed for children and adults alike.

We are less concerned about the commercialism that kids can be exposed to with tv--I think it's pretty easy to avoid with Tivo, PBS and DVDs. We have just found it very interesting that we see a correlation in our kid between tv and his behavior. Even though the shows that he enjoys are very low key and even a little educational, he seems to be very spun up and rambunctious and more prone to tantrums when he's been watching more than normal. Having said that, we are also not considering cutting out TV all together, like I said, "everything in moderation".

We are a cable (on demand even), netflix, TiVo, DVD watching family. We are also blog readers, faithful library patrons, news paper readers, and bookclub members. Our almost three year old watches a couple of PBS shows (George, Clifford, Fireman Sam, and G (some PG) animated or live action kids movies (George, Nemo, Clifford, Happy Feet, AirBud). I think (hope?) in moderation. The only commercials my son sees are when and if we watch sports together or the "this show brought to you by..." bits on PBS. He also goes to daycare/preschool 4 days a week, reads everyday, plays pretend firefighter, does his "job" with his tool set, and makes cookies with his mama. Rather than a focus on the commercial aspect - since with DVDs, TiVo,and PBS you can control that - think about total "screen time" during the day or week. Screen time includes computers and video games (when older?). We even have pizza/movie night together. Movies and TV are a part of my life and I guess I want to pass that,just like reading or cooking or crafts, on to my kid. And be a part of it with him. My more than 2 cents.

I had planned on being one of those fabulous Mom's who instead of tv, read book after book or crafted or arted or played, etc.. With our first, I sort of did that for her first two years, but it's really hard, the day is LONG... So we intro'd Sesame Street on PBS. What a sweet amazing show. After watching myself, I remember why I loved it so as a kid and I appreciated lots more about it as an adult. We then moved on to Noggin (pay channel). No commercials and extremely sweet, educational and lovely. They also have a great website full of games, etc.
I needed some help in enteretaining the kids, especially after our little boy came along.
Our basic rules are no commercials, moderation and there just has to be a sweetness, a fun and creative aspect.
As far as all the merchandising, they do end up wanting all the Dora crap even without the commericals. Our girl has a Dora sippy cup and a puzzle, but not the shoes, t-shirt, playset, etc. We just tell her no.

We started our son at 2yo with Winnie the Pooh (the older Disney version in which they still hand-illustrated the reels, unlike the computer-drawn graphics of today). Beautiful imagery, easy stories, and he likes the songs. We only do about 10-20 minutes a day, though, or he gets overwhelmed. He also really likes Mr. Rogers, who speaks super slowly and explains everything in minute detail—perfect for toddlers! Other than that, we also watch a little YouTube, mostly videos of steam engines and fire trucks. It's a slippery slope, though, as he now begs for videos every day, and two months ago, he didn't even know that moving images existed...

I grew up without TV, so it was easy to make that choice for my family. I'm more comfortable without it. That said, of course each family will make the choice that's best for them.

As for Sarah's question, I don't think you need to make any effort at all to introduce your children to TV and movies. That will happen all by itself just from living on the planet. My kids have seen TV at the in-laws, DVDs at friends' houses, etc. It's out there and they are going to encounter it. If (as I suspect is the case) your friends share similar values, your kids aren't likely to be exposed to anything more controversial than Thomas the Tank.

Like you, I've been really happy that my son's early childhood was completely free of logos and innocent of most brands marketed to kids.

At some point we will introduce movies (dvds on the computer), probably making one night a week "movie night." There are lots of old, terrific movies I'd love to introduce him to. But he's only 7, and I don't think there's any hurry at this point.

I guess my problem with TV is that it is so inescapable. There are so many places that it is just on ... the athletic club, some restaurants, my parents' houses, in some waiting rooms. It is loud and intrusive and annoying. Fight the damn TV!
Now on a more personal and humbling level ... we let our 2 year old watch dvds when we are away from home, on our computer. Not at home -- primarily because we know we would use it too frequently . We get tired and it is hard to read to him all day long, but I really think it is better to postpone exposure as long as we can.
Of course there are ways around commercials, I suppose, but we don't get cable or tivo or anything, and it isn't important enough to me to seek (or pay for) those alternatives.

My five year old and my almost 3 year old get to watch 1/2 hour of TV a day, always at 5:30, so that I can focus on making dinner. They always watch a PBS show from On Demand and they, I don't believe, have ever seen a commercial in their lives.

I haven't seen any negative outcome at all -- my five year old is a voracious reader who reads at a 6th grade level and my younger son has perhaps the most vivid imagination I've ever encountered.

As my grandfather used to say, everything in moderation.

Just a comment I heard the other day at my preschool. Child wants to go to Chuck E Cheese other mom comments "My child doesnt even know what Chuck E Cheese is....Yes I do Mom they are proud sponsers of PBS kids. You cant avoid it but you can educate your child about your values and families rules. everywhere...

We've had the Tv on a tight lease. I'm glad because now I have two voracious readers on my hands. Tivo is our friend. Our kids have seldom seen a real commercial for anything we don't care for like sugary cereals or battery operated toys.

Check out Into the Minds of Babes a book about TV before the age of five. I liked her approach, though true to mama life I only got two thirds of the way through! My son is seventeen months and we have yet to do any TV. I think it must be easier to control with just the one child.
http://www.amazon.com/Into-Minds-Babes-Affects-Children/dp/0465027989/ref=pd_bbs_sr_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1195441904&sr=1-1

My first response to this topic is frustration with the fact that so much energy is spent on this, as if somehow we can protect our little ones from the world if we just don't let them watch the evil that is tv, or movies, or moving images of any kind, or any media of any kind, yadda yadda yadda. Then I have other thoughts too, but the real overriding thought is that it's just another one of those things out there and the kids are going to get an attitude about it based on how we approach it. If we spend all of our time defining how much, and when, and what exactly, the kid's going to be as obsessed with it as we are. And yes, most kids are going to act out what they see. So, my three year old bounces like Tigger, because he watches Pooh. He also sings "Let's build a word" because he watches Word World. But he also turns the tv off when he's done watching it because he's ready to play. And he doesn't complain when we say, "no, we're not going to watch a movie now, we're going outside." TV, DVDs, they just exist in our house along with books and toys and people. Sometimes we use them, sometimes we don't. We screen, we don't spend money on it, and I say no to Clifford cereal. If he watches a movie, he watches the whole 60-90 minutes of it in one sitting because he hates to turn it off midway. I would too. I spend a lot of time being purposeful in my parenting, and I guess what I'm saying is I purposefully don't put that much energy into it.

I have three kids and am amazed every day at how different three little personalities can be in the same environment. One can watch TV in moderation, one would watch all the live long day if we allowed it. (The baby is exposed to TV every once in a while just by virtue of being the littlest, but she is too busy cruising around to pause for long.) Both my older kids (ages 3 and 7)tend to be a bit more sassy and whiny after watching TV, so I do limit viewing. Every kid and household is unique and there are issues that have to be constantly balanced and reigned in. And yes, it does take energy to resist the temptation to stick them in front of it while I get some work done. I TIVO PBS shows to use when I need them the most, and we rent movies for the weekend. My pet peeve is mostly with the sassy, fast-paced hyperactivity of most animated showsl-so annoying! And of course it pisses me off that my little kids are such a pointed demographic in marketing. When my oldest was about 3 while we were shopping in Target, I had a rare parenting victory that happened to stick without much fussing. I said, ever so casually that oh, we can't buy anything with TV characters on it (including organic Sesame Street cereal, etc) and now it is just a fact. They police themselves and it's not even a discussion usually. Ah, if only more things worked like that...

For me, mom22 says it perfectly.

i, too, come from an 'everything in moderation family,' though we have trouble with the moderation part sometimes.

given my two little boys who adore tv and another one who certainly notices it when he's kicking on the changing pad near the tv, I'd say: don't feel you need to introduce your child to tv! if you're happy without it, by all means, keep it that way. I've been trying to gradually eliminate tv from my kids' diet but it's so ingrained in the family culture -- any time they have an aunt or uncle babysit them, the first thing they do is promise a new disney movie (sigh).

i don't know why anyone who's able to peacefully cope with the world of parenting without tv would want to bring into their lives, honestly. will they feel left out in conversations with other kids at school? maybe, but if it's a value of yours, I can't see any reason to clue them into the tv inspeak. (for instance: i would be thrilled if my children never knew what dog the bounty hunter was, despite frequent playground references. geez.) there have been many times i've wished i hadn't exposed my children to some 21st-century cultural symbol; i can't think of a single time i wished i'd let them watch something we missed b/c the tv was off.

if my children are begging for tv and they're letting me pick, i'd go for sagwa (pbs); the backyardigans (nick jr); dora (nick jr -- she can be annoying to some but she's teaching my kids a little spanish); jane and the dragon (qubo); word girl (pbs i think); and cyberspace (pbs). they're all good clean fun.

It's funny, because when my now 3 yr old was about 1, I worried a LOT about his seemingly insatiable desire to watch the tube. If the TV was on in the room he was in, he would stop and STARE at it with a blank stare until we turned it off. It didn't matter what was on, it was all-consuming for him. We finally just turned it off while he was awake for about a year. I was freaked out that he would become a child TV-addict.

We are also a TiVo family and I highly recommend it. You can control what is watched and commercials, and when the show is over the Tivo turns it off (no next show coming on too hook them).

Now that my son is 3, he probably watches 1 hour a week of TV, if that. Right now, he is home sick from preschool and wanted to watch "elmo" so he's watching Sesame Street. He's never seen a commercial, doesn't know what Coke is, but strangely enough is totally addicted to Thomas the Tank Engine through a book-set he got when he was about 18 months. It was and still is his favorite book theme, and that led to gifts of trains and tracks and now a train table. Only after 6-12 months of this intense train play did we start Tivo'ing the Thomas show on Sunday mornings, which he now asks for almost exclusively when we offer to let him watch something. He watches with his trains on his lap, and then goes right to his train table and plays trains for hours. The Tivo has really helped to clarify that a show is over when it's over and we don't have him begging for more.

I agree with the poster that said attitude about it does determine how a child's relationship with TV will be. Just like candy, if it's off-limits entirely, they will want it even more. I definitely think too much TV for kids is a problem, but no TV can also be a strong extreme.

I used to worry (through my laughter) when my son would tell people when they came over and asked "What did you do today"? "Well, we watched Oprah" (mom has it on Tivo, so sometimes have it on the mornings). He doens't actually watch it though, as he just isn't all that interested in TV in general and has moved on to big boy things.

my husband and i haven't watched tv for like 15 years, so it's natural to not watch in the house. that said, i decided when our son turned 4 it was a decent idea to introduce him to a video every now and then to avoid the forbidden fruit syndrome. my sense is that beyond the commercials and how odten issues (we easily agreed on those),it was contetn that was tough.

we finally settled on a few sesame and zooboomafoo dvds that he can choose from. i watched them first in their entirety (call me obsessive, but i am often surprised by what i come across when i leats expect it), and now leave him on his own to watch one 1 or 2 times a week. we also have a 20-month old so i play with her in the other room.

he likes them well enough but didn't fall too hard - not sure why. he loves to read with us - in fact, anything with us is preferred, it seems. i asked a librarian for video recommendations and wasn't all that impressed. my take is that there are shows where the kids7characters have bad attitudes and i will always wrk hard to avoid those. when my son asks why he can't watch certain things, i just tell him it's because i don't like the way the characters act so we choose videos where we like the way everyone acts.

of course it won't always be like this, his world will certainly broaden, but for now, at 4 and 1/2, it's working just fine. plus, the tv is small, old, and not in an ideal spot since we never watch it - and i guess i think that's a good thing for our family given that we don't love it too much. i watched a decent amount as a kid and was also a voracious reader. some thigns are just a mystery!

I highly recommend a book called "The Big Turnoff" - Confessions of a TV addicted mom trying to raise a TV free kid. The author is from Portland and she tells a great story about the benefits and struggles of keeping TV out of her son's life. She is a fabulous story teller and it is a valuable resource for anyone struggling with this issue. Be prepared to laugh and not take yourself too seriously!

Our little guy doesn't watch much, he's happy with just a little bit a few times a week. I recently read that OPB will no longer be showing Mr Rogers as of next year. This has been one of our favorites to watch with our son. There's no Mr Rogers merchandise in the stores, and it's not sponsored by Chuck E Cheese or McDonalds. I just think it's a shame that they're getting rid of such a quality show I guess in order to add another children's cartoon of marginal quality.

No Mr. Rogers! Will he live on in DVD?

we're also a tv-in-moderation family - pbs, discovery, a few dvds...

in our home, most viewing is done as a family and we introduced media literacy at an early age. although i think it's admirable to avoid commercial influences (and you'll never find a character on my kids' clothing), i think it's a mistake to completely deny its existence to children.

in practice, we use commercial time to either discuss what we've been watching or work through identifying what the commercials are trying to sell. as the kids have gotten older and have become very astute at figuring some things out, we've expanded to HOW are they getting us interested in buying.

as a result, my kids are able to define what is and isn't useful information while watching tv.

...and to combat the occasional tv-stare, i enact the motto "too much tv will make you stupid" (sounds harsh i know, but it's hard to convey tone sometimes). by saying this, we try to be aware if we're getting something useful out of the program or if it's simply a waste of time. the motto has definitely been effective in self-monitoring tv time and balancing it with other enriching, everyday activities such as reading, art, music and exercise.

Since my kids have such a big age difference (2 and 7) it's been tricky to figure out this issue in our family. I didn't mind my older one watching a show or 2 a day (only PBS, ever) but my two year old ended up watching it too which I wasn't feeling good about-even the though time to get things done was great. I decided to try the "big experiment" and take it away for a few weeks to see what would happen. That was 4 months ago and it's still gone! It's been pretty suprising. My husband is definitely the biggest whiner! The kids rarely ask for it and have amazed me with the stuff they come up with to entertain themselves! I think I get more done now than ever, honestly. It took a few days but I really did see a shift in them both. They are doing more together, more imaginitive play alone. The long-term value that really hit home with me is that they are not waiting to be entertained by someone or something else.

I'm sure we'll watch selective TV now and then. But I was truly suprised by the results of our experiment.

Cheers!

Ahhh...the infamous TV issue. My husband and I are definately part of the "everything in moderation club," but TV is a tricky one because I personally believe it is predatory of young children and designed to be addictive. Even so, we do let our 5 year old son watch PBS or Noggin (commercial free!) on days he doesn't have school, which is now just the weekend...thank bog. It was easy to get lazy with him because he sees a show and then pretty much forgets about it. He is not one of those kids that needs the underwear and lunchbox, or who talks about characters incessantly during the day. Our almost 2 year old daughter, on the other hand, has taken to watching morning cartoons with him and then can name the character ("Look momma, it's DORA!") in an Ad on the computer screen the next day. So our TV days are limited. To me this is a clear sign that she could be the kid who needs the underwear and the lunchbox, and talks about TV characters incessantly during the day...so now I'll have to get my butt out of bed on Saturday mornings, make some coffee, and be ready for my children when they wake up. I see a lot of pillow pile jumping in my future.

It's funny, my 4.5yr-old watches some PBS some mornings and she recognizes Chuck E Cheese as "that mouse with the hat" but has no idea he is related to pizza, etc.

She has seen commercials when daddy watches baseball or the weather (never, never children's commercials! Horrible, mind-sucking, mezmering things!) but we always talk about them --
Her: Why are they doing _______?
Us: Because it's a commercial and they want your attention, did it work?
Her: No [she always says no]. Why do they want my tension?
Us: So you will want to buy ______.
Her: Why?
Us: So they will make money. But we have to make our own decisions about what we want to spend money on.

She now tells us this last bit when she sees commercials or billboards or ads on buses, etc. Advertising is everywhere and we do our best to teach her what it is really about and how to think about it. We challenge statements made, we talk about other things that might be better, why we don't need what they are selling, etc. We even talk about how things like the Sesame Street tie-in toys -- do we want that toy because it is a character we know? Will it as fun as the character on TV or is it just a toy like any other? Next year is kindergarten and who knows what the other kids will bring to her "tension" -- train them young to resist our commercial culture!

We have swung back and forth between no tv and a bit too much tv. Probably not the best parenting approach, but it's so hard to be consistent over time when you're figuring out how things work! These days, we keep the tv in an inconvenient place (like another poster mentioned) and the kids rarely ask for it. Sometimes we watch DVDs, usually as a family. But I like having tv as an option for two reasons--1. it's a good way to teach marketing/media savvy to your kids--I'm not saying you can't do that another way, but it's worked for us; and 2. some days I'm ready to tear my hair out. I think it's better to give my kids an hour of PBS while I detox than it is for them to see me explode over something small. So tv is just another parenting tool for us, and when my son (who is 8) questions why we don't give him unlimited tv time, we talk honestly about the negative effects of too much tv. He seems to accept it even if he's not happy about it. It hasn't hurt his social life--he has lots of friends. And if they're all running around talking about the Lord of the Rings movies, well, he's read the Lord of the Rings, so he's not totally out of the loop.

Oh, and for kids who are about 3 or 4 up till they really take off reading, I think books on tape can be another great parenting tool--achieves some of the same ends in terms of entertaining them while giving mom/dad a much needed break!

So, a couple of observations here. Do folks realize how many "never, evers" and "always" comments there have been on this topic? And there seems to be a lot of money spent on something so many of us are trying to avoid. No conclusions, I just find both of those observations interesting.

I've been a little bothered today by this topic. It really feels as though we've been competing for who's the best parent here, based on what we allow with regards tv. It's like those of us admitting to allowing tv have to apologize for it. And then qualify how and what we allow. Maybe I'm just reading into it or having one of those days where I don't feel like I've got this parenting thing figured out, but it's just been my gut level response to this. I hate commercials and their impact on my children as much as the next person. But I also know there are more important things out there than whether or not a child has a Dora lunchbox because there are plenty of kids out there lacking a lunchbox becuase they just don't have any lunch.

I'm thinking twice before I post this, but doing so anyway. I really am not wanting to offend anyone. I feel like these are valid thoughts on the topic and not meant to hurt feelings. Sometimes I think we just need to look at what it is we're talking about and what kind of language we use when we do so.

How strange...I was just thinking how middle-of-the-road and not controversial most of these responses are, myself. Seems like most of the responders wrote that they allow some TV, but try not to overdo it. Those not into TV don't seem to be predicting apocalpyse for those who do. Whether kids watch TV may not be of the utmost importance, but does that mean it's not worth discussing?

Thanks, m. I would hate to think that when I say, "We don't own a television" people infer that what's unsaid is, "and the rest of you are evil!" Because that's not what I think, at all. And I certainly don't think I implied it in my comments.

I totally agree with mom22.

I'm one of those moms whose kid does have Dora sneakers. They were cheap. Plus my kid is motivated to put on shoes, which is a time-wasting battle some days. I wonder how much of this rubs off on our children. I hope a parent's disapproval of licensed products doesn't backfire and make kids elitist.

I'd hate if children thought my kid was morally inferior ... we're not as wealthy and hence, shop at Payless (Dora sneakers) rather than at Nordstrom (See Kai Runs).

Kids like Chuck E. Cheese. Ella went there once for a party and I have literally heard about it ever since. We also recently went to "Funderland", an amusement park for the preschool set in Sacramento. Funderland has somewhat run-down looking tacky rides with "carnies" running them. Kids have no filters, they could care less, they just to be entertained and have fun. Period. This makes them soooo fabulously honest, I love that.
So, because a worn out mom needs help from the tube, the ensuing requests are made, some are granted, some are not.

An underlying issue here is Portland elitism. See, I love the elitism, it's different than CA elitism (think socal more than nocal.. nocal elitism looks more like Portland elitism)which is truly only about brand names and bling. Portland elitism is based in eco-conservation, anti-consumerism, other important stuff...it's really smart. It just doesn't take into account the desires of a child or the finances of a young family. So our family goes back to the moderation philosphy. We do our best. We get organic produce, we still go to Target, we recycle, we have a thriving garden, and we buy a Disney princess T-shirt, we watch a little Sesame Street or Noggin. The kids are the same way, they watch a little tv, they want to read a ton, they go outside.
All of this comes up for us mamas soley because we are trying so hard to make the best life for the kids.

Anders is (proudly) wearing the tackiest Diego tracksuit today that he received as a gift from Grandma last week on his birthday. I hate it, but he loves it and it was free so it's staying. My mom knows he loves Diego, and she also knows that I dont buy him this kind of stuff. She bought him a Diego backpack this summer, and I'm sure at some point she'd buy him the lunchbox too. We're not about to tell her to never ever buy him another gift with a licensed character on it again. I guess we kind of figure that it's a grandma's right to spoil her grandkids with the "goodstuff" that mama and papa wont buy. I have fond memories of staying the night with my grandma and the highlight of the visit would be the sugar cereal we got to eat the next morning!

It's true what Monica said about kids not having filters. Someday Anders might prefer the soft, organic cotton shirt with classic colors from Hanna Andersson, but for now, I can totally see the appeal of the cheap Diego one.

We just got back from his 3 year check up at the doctor. She asked us how much Anders is watching on a daily basis and told us that the AAP recommends no more than 1.5 hours per day for a 3-4 year old. Based on comments here, I think we're all falling well within that range with the limits that we're setting for our children. If not on a daily basis, than likely on a weekly basis.

Thanks for tolerating me, mamas. I needed to hear a little of the other side of the story stuff from folks.

We have a TV, HD cable, and something TiVo-esque. I love watching TV with no commercials. I love on-demand so I can pick and choose what the girls watch. We usually choose something on DiscoveryKids, but we used to pick Noggin favorites all the time. Nowadays, TV/video watching is down to about once every 2 weeks or so. (I also love on-demand music videos and my husband & I spent over an hour the other night watching our favorite 80s music videos).

The grandparents are visiting and something different happens. Suddenly we are watching lots of videos and TV. Then, like magic, this huge box of Disney princess dress up stuff appeared out of nowhere. Like Leah says -- they know we won't buy it for them.

I have a lot of admiration for mamas like Zinemama who does not have a TV and doesn't make us feel bad for having ours. It is inspiring and makes me think twice about our TV/media exposure, but it doesn't make me feel bad.

Hello ladies, Mom 22 and all of y'all. Yes I am really opinionated on this subject, but not judgemental. Only of myself when I don't follow my own rules! We (moms) are pretty harsh critics of ourselves in general, so I actively try not to criticize other moms. we're all doing the best we can, right?
I do view the advertising agencies harshly, intentionally peddling to children's need for belonging to sell their wares. That being said, I know lots of folks who get character stuff second-hand, or at Target or whatever, and just refuse to give it power.

I re-read what I wrote and I'd like to replace the word elitism with idealism. Elitism surely occurs, but I think idealism applies more here.

I have my opinions but nothing to expand the discussion meaningfully, so I'll
skip to the question about what DVDs are recommended... my 2 year old loves "Signing Time", plus it airs on PBS every Sunday morning, so we have quite a few episodes on the DVR. "Chicka-Chicka-Boom-Boom" is another favorite.

I think there are a lot of assumptions about motivation here, ranging from keeping kids "pure" to elitism/idealism. We've avoided television so far because we are interested in Waldorf education - not because it produces passionate readers or straight-A Ivy Leaguers, but because it seems to encourage well-rounded, self motivated critical thinkers. Call that misguided purity, idealism or elitism, but I'm hoping to help my child toward that kind of adulthood the best way I know how - and I don't think anyone here suggested there aren't other ways to go about it.
From the little I understand, Waldorf discourages television and videos for young children to avoid inhibiting the way their imaginations develop on their own. The other stuff - like not attempting to explain marketing to someone who only speaks 10 words - is a side benefit.
I'll never forget sitting next to my nephew when he was a toddler, while his mother drove us past the only McDonalds in town. He wasn't even two, but he threw a fit because we weren't stopping at the golden arches - he knew that Ronald McDonald lived there. He is now a lovely person who had great grades in high school and college and has moved on to a fascinating career that takes him around the world - on submarines, no less. His mom did a great job with all her kids. I'm hoping for a similar result - I'm just going about it a little bit differently.


A bit off topic, my nearly 2.5 year old son goes crazy every time he sees Starbucks wanting to go to the "coffee shop" and asks to stop by IKEA every time we drive on freeway. After the first time we went, he recognized the sign by sight. It's surprising what kids pick up elsewhere other than TV. Crazy how brand recognition does start so young; and how impressionable the little ones really are!

Sort of related to this discussion - a fascinating article on reading, television, and what life will be like if we enter an age of "secondary orality"...http://www.newyorker.com/arts/critics/atlarge/2007/12/24/071224crat_atlarge_crain

I really appreciate all these comments. When writing the original post, I agonized over how to ask this question without sounding righteous. I really like the suggestion of Youtube and we've watched some short clips with Cole about different types of music and steam engines. Thanks mamas - I rely on this forum for so many questions and enjoy your suggestions and different perspectives.

Interesting blog: www.unplugyourkids.com

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