Food for thought re: Television

have all used TV and other digital media to keep the kids (and
ourselves) occupied so we can get something accomplished- or just
have some peace and quiet. In fact, at times it seems easier to
relegate the kids to the television or computer than to deal with the
whining involved by restricting screen time.

is a whole generation of kids who rely upon some sort of electronic
device (tv, computer, Game Boy, Nintendo, IPODs, cell phones) to keep
them busy. When these are inaccessible or the privilege has been
revoked, the children become lost in boredom.
found as my sons were growing up that the more time they spent watching TV or on the
computer, the more argumentative and rude and downright mean they
became. With

limited screen time, they relied more upon each other for
entertainment, which required imagination, cooperation and manners.

intentional are your viewing habits?
of us take TV and the computer for granted, giving little thought to
the roles they play in our lives. How does it get treated in your
house? Does it have it’s own room? Does it get much rest? Is there
more than one?
controls the remote? How do people in your family decide what to
watch? Do you turn on the TV and see what’s on? check a weekly
listing and plan the week? or watch only certain favorite shows?
the whole family watch together? What happens when a program is over?
Does someone get up and turn the TV off ? Do you wait and see what’s
coming, or check the TV listing?
your family talk during TV shows? Do you discuss programs you’ve
seen with your family and friends when they are over?
some level we are aware that a TV show or video helps to shape our
attitudes toward life and the world. But how often do we give serious
thought to the messages that bombard us (and the children!) through
the media? 
next time you are watching your particular shows, think and talk with
your kids about how the various characters are portrayed. Who are the
main characters? Are they men or women? Young or old? What is their
ethnicity? How do they present themselves and their relationships to
others? What is their view of the world? How do these people
influence the way you see yourself and the world?
tend to forget the power that commercials have in molding us. What
products are being advertised? Are the people being portrayed in the
commercials men or women? young or old? What are they doing? What
messages are implied? 
taking some time to think about these messages, how they influence
who you are or wish to become, and whether they coincide with the
values you wish to impart to your children.
does the TV get treated in your house? Does it have it’s own room?
Do you like it better than your brother? Does it get much rest? Here
are some questions to get you thinking about your family’s TV
How do people in your family decide what to watch?
  • Turn on the TV and see what’s on.
  • Check a weekly listing and plan the week.
  • Watch only certain favorite shows.
How does TV get watched?
  • The whole family watches together.
  • The kids watch separately from the parents.
  • It’s different at different times.
What happens when a TV program is over?
  • Someone gets up and turns the tV off.
  • People usually sit to wait and see what’s coming.
  • Someone checks the TV listing. 
Does your family talk during TV shows?
  • Always
  • Usually
  • Sometimes
  • Never
What about programs you’ve seen?
  • You talk about them with your family.
  • You talk about them with your friends.
  • You usually don’t talk about them with anyone.
controls the TV tuner in your house?
there rules for how much TV you watch? Or what you watch? Here is how
different families deal with the issue.
  • No rules at all. Kids can watch whenever and what ever they like.
  • Kids get a total number of hours a day they can watch. No more is
  • No TV is allowed at certain times, like mealtime, before school,
    after ten o’clock at night.
  • TV is only allowed on weekends.
  • Kids can watch only public broadcasting programs.
  • Kids have to look at the TV listing and check programs with their
    parents before tuning in.
  • TV is only for times when you can’t be outside or have no chores to
    do. It’s OK in bad weather, evenings when homework is done, times
    like that.
  • There is no TV in the house.
you clear about your family’s rules. If not, it might be a good
idea to bring it up and see if the whole family could agree on how
the TV is handled.. Check with your friends. See what kinds of TV
rules they live with.
Increasing Awareness
It can be quite an eye opener to keep a tally regarding role models, stereo-types and incidents of violence while you watch your regular shows, and down right shocking to take a closer look at what the kids are watching! 

Week of TV Violence


used to solve a problem
used to solve a problem

Form for TV Show
of Show _________________________________
______ Time ______Channel ______

of Main Characters

Old _______________________
Old _______________________
of Minor Characters
Old _______________________
Young _____________________                               
Old _______________________
of work done


Form Commercial

of Show
______ Time ______Channel _____
of people
of people not shown
were people doing
I Am Not a Short Adult!: Getting Good at Being a Kid
by Marilyn Burns

TV Turn-off Week

TV Turnoff Week was launched by Adbusters magazine and other
organizations in 1994, in an effort to create awareness of the impact
of our reliance on television. In 2008 Adbusters changed the name of
TV Turnoff Week to Digital Detox Week to reflect the growing
predominance of computers and other digital devices.
is passive,  sedentary and non-experiential. The purpose 
of TV-Turnoff/Digital Detox Week is to focus instead on creating,
discovering, building, participating and doing.
it possible to survive for an entire week without the tube? Of course!
as a family the types of things you would like to do in the coming
week and create the sense that this is going to be a special time- a
vacation of sorts, rather than a deprivation.
  • Read!
  • Get
    out the art supplies, the sidewalk chalk, the play dough (there are
    plenty of recipes online.)
  • Teach
    your child to knit or sew, do needlework, or simple carpentry.
  • Plan,
    shop for ingredients, and make your child’s favorite dinner
  • Make
    mud pies!
  • Fill
    a roasting pan with rice (or dried beans if there are no babies
    around) , and add measuring cups and other utensils for pouring and
  • Put
    on some lively tunes and dance!
  • Teach
    the kids some card games (Go Fish, Crazy Eights, Old Maid,
  • Play
    Hide and Seek, Red Rover, Jacks, Chinese Jump Rope, marbles, kick
  • Browse
    the garden catalogs, and plan your garden. Plant seeds together. 
  • Go
    to the Museum of Science or Children’s Museum: these are awesome
    places with many hands-on activities for children.
  • Visit
    Stonybrook Park, Conesus Inlet, a friend who lives in the country or
    on a farm.
  • Make
    a list of items found in nature and have a scavenger hunt.
  • Put
    together puzzles. 


  • Instead
    of watching a documentary about birds, go out (with binoculars if
    you have
    and see how many real birds you can identify in your neighborhood.
  • Get
    out old photos and reminisce about when the kids were “little”. 
  • Visit
    a pet store. 
  • Play
    dress up and have a tea party.
  • Make
    a fort or pitch a tent. 
  • Have
    a backyard carnival.
  • Decorate
  • Hold
    a neighborhood Olympics.

possibilities are endless!

is shocking to realize how much we depend on TV, DVD, and computer to
keep us occupied. A week without these devices may be what is needed
to break the habit of relying on them for entertainment, opening a
whole world of possibility and experience- things we have forgotten
about, or have yet to discover.
RDW (2001, revised 2013)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *