Friday, October 28, 2011

Would You Let Your Child Have a Television in Their Room?

TVs designed for children's rooms. ©Soctech
I was just reading the annual report released by Commonsense Media and while many of the statistics about children and screen time are shocking, I was most taken aback by their statistic regarding how many children have televisions in their rooms.

42% of children under 8 years old have a TV in their bedrooom 30% of 0- to 1-year-olds, 44% of 2- to 4-year-olds, and 47% of 5- to 8-year-olds.

I know every child is different, but my experience as a parent is that children under 8 are not known for their self-regulating abilities. In fact, for the under-six set, they pretty much do whatever they can to test every limitation you try and impose. What? Your kids don't do that? We don't even allow our kids to keep their Nintendo DSi's in their rooms!

Without even getting into the whole issue of child obesity rates reaching epidemic levels in the USA and how children with TVs in their room are probably leading more sedentary lives — What does this statistic say about the state of the family dynamic in our country?

I am happy to provide a space for our kids (ages 5, 9, and 12) to play the Wii and watch DVDs (no access to cable or internet) on their own, but it is still a public space in the house that I can monitor when they are using it rand I can walk in to check at any time. I can't imagine turning them loose on their own with access to those things or cable, DVRs, and the internet in an unsupervised area like their rooms. I'd never see my 12-year-old except at dinner-time, I'm sure of it!

Despite the fact that my kids may drive me crazy, making me wish they'd spend more time in their rooms sometimes, I value the time that I spend with and watching them run around the house. I like knowing what they are watching and talking to them about it. I want them to be around and part of my routine and, more importantly, I want them to view *me* as a fixture in their day. They need to know that I am around and will hold them accountable for the choices they make. I don't want them holed up in their rooms, being influenced by the characters of some tv show that makes my skin crawl.

I got a TV in my room when I was 9, with the extenuating circumstance being constant squabbling with my much older siblings over what to watch on the family TV and my constant campaign against my parents to relent and allow me this little bit of freedom from my brother and sisters' tv tyranny. There are so many reasons why things are different today than when I was a kid, though. The content of even basic network television being the number one difference. I remember loathing Hill Street Blues and St. Elsewhere as a child because they were all boring and talk-y, so I hope that children now would also shun the worst offenders on the networks for violence and sex. But with shows like Gossip Girl portraying the glamorous life of money, sex, drinking and drugs... Say goodbye to your innocent tween forever.

As long as the pervasiveness of cable with its options of The Cartoon Network, Nickelodeon and Nick Jr. pumping out content aimed at children 24 hours a day, I cannot believe that almost half of the parents in our country would allow their kids to have a television in their room.

What do you think about this statistic? Do you believe it? I don't personally know anyone who allows their kids to have a TV in their room, but I also live in a neighborhood that is fairly affluent, very white, and liberal, so know that it is not the norm. If you do think a TV in your child's room is okay, at what age did you allow it? What factors went into your decision?

Stefanie at is also writing about this same issue today on her site (click HERE to read Stefanie's article). We started the conversation on twitter a few days ago and were overwhelmed with the visceral response that it invoked from many of our friends there and wanted to explore the issue further. Stefanie tweets at @ooph, follow her because she is, quite simply, a fantastic person.


I've written a few articles about related things on Strollerderby, if you want to read more:Are Anti-Obesity Ads Too Harsh or Just What the Doctor Ordered?
Could Home Ec Help Solve America's Obesity Problem?Lawsuit Charges General Mills' With Deceptively Advertising Fruit Snacks As Healthy

1 comment:

  1. I had a TV in my room when I was growing up BUT today is a lot different than 20 years ago (i am 28 and yes I had a TV in my room at 8). I only recall watching it at night, I was the child that never slept. I would watch nick at night. As I got older I still had the TV but we didn't have cable for our TVs in our rooms so I was rarely watching it. We did not watch much TV as a family so I never gave much thought to the TVs. We didn't have gaming systems.


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