I’ve never been overly concerned with the amount of television my children watched – and it was evident. Sometimes they’d watch a few shows in the morning and a few more in the afternoon. I thought it was a good way to keep them occupied while I worked blogging or writing articles. However, they still interrupted me more often than not, and that was frustrating, of course. While we were in Washington, though, we watched very little television. Certainly much less than we were watching at home.
So, upon returning home, I instituted a new rule – no TV. Simple and to the point. It is difficult but the kids aren’t suffering and I think they’re actually doing better without it. They’re playing on their own and honestly, they don’t interrupt me as much as they did when the TV was on. And now, instead of letting them watch TV while I work, I actually interact with them more. I work for a bit (15-30 mins), then we read books, play a game, or go outside. I steal moments here and there while they play on their own or together and it’s been working out quite well.
The AAP recommends no more than 1-2 hours of quality programming for children for all entertainment media – this means not just TV watching, but video games, computer games, etc. Let’s just say my children were in excess of that on a daily basis, and I really do think their behavior suffered for it – maybe not all children do, but I think mine did.
I have a friend who’s probably smarter than you and I combined and she has a brilliant system for TV/movie watching with her children. I asked if I could share it, and she said it was okay – it’s quite ingenious.
The Credit System for TV/Movie Watching Guidelines:
1 Credit = 1 show (appx 22-25 mins), 3 credits = 1 movie
Credits are earned for learning a specific skill
Credits are not taken away for bad behavior, nor a reward for good behavior
Credits can only be used when all children are watching TV
Child can earn 1 credit per day
Credits are kept in jar by television (visual reinforcement) – use monopoly money or beads – different colors for each child
The way it works is quite simple – my friend uses the credits to encourage her children to learn a skill – brushing their teeth upon waking up or using utensils properly. As stated in the guidelines above, they are not used to punish bad behavior and they’re not removed for bad behavior either – they’re a device to be used to encourage skills.
For instance, I want Jeremiah to work on writing his name. Every day we practice, and when he writes his name 5 times, he gets a credit. The credit (say, green monopoly money) goes into the jar by the television. Sarah needs to work on using the bathroom on her own – so if she does, she gets her credit (pink monopoly money) and it goes into the jar. They can choose to save their credits for a movie on the weekend, or use them. Of course, parents ALWAYS have discretion as to when the credits are used – and the parents must remember to remove the credits from the jar!
I think this is a great way to motivate children to not only learn a new skill but to limit their TV exposure – and this can extend to computer games and video games, too. We have a Kinect that the kids still play – it’s more active than television, that’s for sure!
How much television do you or your children watch? Do you make an effort to limit their electronic media exposure?