TV is bad for kids.

Now, I bet you’re expecting me to tell you that we don’t have a TV, or that I don’t let Fiona watch TV, or that, at most, I enforce a solitary half-an-hour a day screen time and never let her see it before age two.  Ha!

Ha! Ha! Ha!


I fail at television. I think every parent has places where they aren’t the best, and they try to improve, and they try to make changes, and they still struggle.  For me, that’s television.

The AAP recommends no screen time before age two and very limited time after, but most of us don’t abide by that. I was told that the big problem with TV was that it limited development. So, I didn’t worry about it.

Fiona hit all her developmental milestones on time or early, so I wasn’t concerned about something where the big risk was delaying engagement and skills development. No biggie, right?

The other problem that I’d heard was that kids who watch too much TV end up with attention problems and are at increased risk of attention deficit disorder. Again, I wasn’t concerned. Fiona can focus just fine. I mean, if I sit and read to her, she can sit through a full Magic School Bus book and asks for more afterwards. No problem. We’re in the clear, right?

Wrong. I read something interesting last week, and for the life of me can’t remember where, about attention span and TV.  It said that children who watch television didn’t suffer badly from a decreased ability to attend to information, what they suffered from was a decreased ability to do things.Kids who spend too much time observing don’t learn initiative.


This is a problem we do have. Fiona can’t seem to start herself on activities. She doesn’t go play with toys without an adult starting to play with her first. She doesn’t want to do things herself, she wants to watch others do them.


That means I have to fix this. That’s the crappiest part about parenting, to me. It’s not the worrying; it’s the fixing your mistakes. It’s the editing. Anyone who’s been reading this blog for long knows that I’m not the worlds most enthusiastic editor.

So, here’s the current goal: I want us below one hour of screen time a day by her third birthday.

I don’t want to raise a child who can’t act on her own. I want her to be someone who goes out and does things, not someone who sits passively by and watches.  She is too amazing to waste on my own laziness.


5 thoughts on “TV is bad for kids.

  1. TV can make the day so much easier and therefore it is hard not to rely on it. I wish we did a better job with monitoring the amount of time the kids watch television. In fact, I would say my wife and our children are all tv fiends.

    • It really is easier, which is why we’re in this predicament to begin with. We’re actually way down in TV viewing this week as I cut out a ton of afternoon watching this week.

  2. I think you’re overthinking this…Now I will be the first to admit that I am the product of a family that communicates almost exclusively through movie quotes, enhancing our understanding of a situation through the recognition of shared experiences in movies we watched together growing up….Where are we going? “That Way, to the Lake (Willow)” “Do or do not, there is no try (Starwars)” “Right side of the road ok, left side ok, middle of the road..get squished like grape (Karate Kid)”
    …..needless to say I admit we watched WAY too much TV as kids, but every kid in my family is INCREDIBLY creative. My oldest brother is an accomplished Violinist, an excellent writer, and does beautiful oragami. My second Brother plays guitar, Bass, and is the most amazing pen & Ink artist I have ever met (He did an beautiful drawing of YODA hanging in my father’s home). I knit, crochet, write, paint, and craft. Jesse plays guitar, bass, drums, piano, sings, and is a pool shark. And Rebecca designs amazing cupcakes, cooks intircate meals, and has taken up at least 15 different crafting hobbies. We all love TV, and we might not be great at getting all our chores done growing up, but we didn’t lack in the area of iniative.

    There is an element to this study that I question….were these kids left alone to glue themselves to the TV, or did their parents and siblings engage in TV watching with them? Did the talk about the programs and what was learned afterwards, did they apply the lessons learned on the fables to their life? TV has taken the place of the Fairy tale and the fable as a teacher of vicarious lessons in this modern day culture.
    I personally think I greatly benefitted from Family TV watching..and to be honest, those same kids who watched too much TV and suffered too little iniative, are prolly also the same ones not getting enough attention, boundaries, physical touch, verbal affirmation, and instruction from their parents. Fiona is not missing out on any of those things…..moderation is good, I applaud you wanting to encourage your child in other persuits…but don’t overthink it. sometime YOU need those 30 minutes of passive activity. And what is good for one-third of your family benefits the whole.

    • There’s definitely truth to all of that, Chris. And I agree that making vast and sweeping changes on the basis of one study would be silly, but I’ve been feeling increasingly uneasy about how much TV we watch. Especially because I don’t enjoy a lot of TV and so don’t watch. I surf the net, or clean house, or read a book. I’m present and monitoring what she’s watching, but I’m not engaged. That’s part of the problem.
      The other part is that she doesn’t engage in play while she’s watching. She doesn’t color, she doesn’t play with blocks. She doesn’t move. She just sits and watches. And that’s not healthy.
      So, we’re making changes to get us down to a healthy amount. If I’m going to tune out and she’s going to veg out, then I think we probably shouldn’t do that for more than an hour a day at most.

  3. I feel your pain ! I promised myself (before I had kids) that I would never be one of those parents who just plonked their kids in front of the TV. I wish I didn’t, but I would have ended up in a home for the bewildered by now if I didn’t, as I’d never get anything done in the house. Don’t beat yourself up, we all the do the best we can and if we fall short, it’s not from lack of love 🙂

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