As I have mentioned, Alex is 10 years old and since she was young she escaped often by sitting in front of the TV. I wish we didn’t allow so much TV when she was younger. In some ways, it did serve us well. We put her potty chair in front of the TV and popped in a VCR tape of potty training. We put early education videos in when she was learning her ABCs. Also, occasionally, it allowed us to get some work done around the house.
TV viewing among kids is at an eight-year high. Kids ages 6-11 spend about 28 hours a week in front of the TV. The vast majority of this viewing (97%) is of live TV.
I monitor and I limit the amount of TV Alex gets. We have to be on her constantly to read instead or even tell her she needs to read first if she wants to watch TV. That lasts for about a day and then she finds a way to get around it.
In school, some of her homework is for 30 minutes every night of reading. She fights us every night, rolls her eyes and stomps her feet. If she could, she would watch TV for every minute she is in the house. She gets up on the weekend and goes directly to the TV. At the beginning, we told her she had to come ask us to watch but that woke us up on one of the only days we can sleep in. Now her limit is it has to be at least 7:00 am before she gets up.
After school, she comes home and goes right to the TV and when we get home, we sometimes allow it at first in order to hinder an argument as soon as we walk in the door. A normal conversation on a Saturday afternoon:
Alex: “Can I watch some TV?””
Us: “Have you read yet today?”
Us: “Reading first”
Alex: “Just one show?”
Us: “You need to read 30 minutes today.
Alex: “It’s only 20 minutes.”
Us: “We have to go out in 15 minutes”
Alex: “I’ll turn it off in 15 minutes, I promise.”
Us: “Only if you don’t argue with us about turning it off.”
Alex: “I won’t.” She says with a smirk.
And off she goes to watch what ends up to be at least 30-45 minutes.
According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, there are several negative health effects that could happen with too much TV watching including violent or aggressive behavior, obesity, decreased school performance or substance abuse. I’m sure this is based on what they watch. Right now, Alex still watches many cartoon shows or movies. She also watches shows that have children her age in them. Topics in these shows are full of things that she is also going through in middle school but most of them have a happy ending where the good guy or girl wins. Good positive reinforcement seems to be in these shows which she chooses. Even though it is still TV, these have a better content than others out there, not that it is any justification to allow more TV.
Now, I need to get her away from the TV so we can go to a friend’s holiday party. Wish me luck!!