“American children and adolescents spend 22 to 28 hours per week viewing television, more than any other activity except sleeping. By the age of 70 they will have spent 7 to 10 years of their lives watching TV.”
— The Kaiser Family Foundation
We don’t have a TV. The truth is, we haven’t had a television in 2.5 years. When my oldest boy was one we moved to a new state. We took that opportunity to sell or donate a lot of our stuff (somehow, we still have way too much stuff, but I’m working on that). One of the things we donated was our television. At the time, I guess we were doing better than the average household, because we only had one television, but it was on all day long. I thought I needed the background noise and that it somehow helped me feel connected to the outside world.
Now that I’ve told you we don’t have a television, and you think I’m strong and awesome (wink wink), I’m going to admit that we do have laptops and a desktop computer and our kids watch some shows on Netflix. Actually, this winter, our “show watching” hit an all time high. It has been really easy to rationalize it because we didn’t go anywhere all winter…I was petrified Champ would get sick and we would have a long hospital stint to deal with. I felt guilty that my kids were playing with the same toys and doing the same projects day after day, so I let them feel like picking a new show to watch was their new treat. If I’m being really authentic, being stuck inside all winter is hard. Sometimes letting my kids watch a show on Netflix meant I could just lay on the couch feeling sorry for myself, get the dishes done, or (gasp) take a nap!
I’m working on tuning in to how things make my body and mind feel, and I can say that having my kids watch Netflix for more than an hour a day (we all need an hour of Sesame Street, lol), makes me feel awful. It’s a slippery slope… one extra show often begets another and results in me feeling less connected to my kids.
I need to get back on track. Winter is over and I really have no excuses. I can give my kids the benefit of using those ten years of their lives to actually improve their quality of life.
Do you have a television? How much do you let your kids watch? Do you use the TV for “family time?” If so, how? If not, what do you do instead?