To TV or Not to TV: Moms Answer the Question

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February 17, 2015

Let’s be honest. TV runs the way of fast food, sugar, and spiked coffee. We wish we could avoid it all together, but sometimes we thank the heavens it’s available. The American Academy of Pediatrics released newer guidelines for television, internet, and handheld devices last year. They still recommend limiting kids’ viewing to no more than two hours each day. The guidelines also include viewing suggestions like no TV in children’s bedrooms and watching with kids to participate in their media consumption.

We’d probably all admit that this is great advice, but I wondered what it looked like in average households with average moms trying to get through the day. Here’s what moms of elementary school aged children, all with at least two kids including babies and preschoolers, said about screen time in their homes:

  • They can only turn the TV on when everything else – homework, housework, reading – is done.
  • My kids work so hard at school, I think they need a mental break, so they get to watch pretty much whenever.
  • I end up using it as a babysitter most of the time. My son uses the iPad while my daughter is at dance because he would be so disruptive otherwise.
  • In our house it really varies by age and personality. Some of my kids are okay watching a quick show or video but others will get sucked in for hours.
  • Honestly, by the time homework, chores, and dinner are done, there isn’t much time left to overdose on screen time. Our schedules regulate electronic use for us. On the weekend, it is kind of a free for all though.
  • Every 20 minutes they have to step away from the screen and take a break.
  • We try to make sure they exercise their minds, bodies, and souls rather than just zone out in front of the screen.
  • We tend to use it as a reward or for leverage.
  • Once homework is done for the whole week, they can watch but we set the stove timer to limit it.
  • TV plays babysitter more than I’d like to admit. But generally, time limits- 30 minutes in the morning if they’re ready on time and maybe 30 in the afternoon.
  • Regulating the kids’ expectations got too hard, so we made it simple. No screens during the week but they can watch when we are home on the weekend.

Wherever you fall on this spectrum, rest assured, you are not alone in the struggle. Moms around the country juggle what’s best for their kids with what’s best for their sanity. Find your own balance and hope they turn out alright. Perhaps with a little help from that sugar or spiked coffee!

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