Saturday, September 19, 2009

TV free time

"The TV has spent much more time raising us than you have" Lisa to Homer in The Simpsons. Ironic isn't it.

Christie from Childhood 101 made the interesting observation that this week is "turn off the TV week" in the USA. What a wonderful thing!!! I'm all for encouraging Australian famlies to do the same.

Research has found that too much exposure to the electronic media may risk developmental blocks in young children, not to mention:
  • Difficulty switching off

  • Blunted senses, visual strain, understimulation of the brain

  • Social isolation and withdrawal

  • Less creativity and imagination

  • Commerical exploitation

  • Inability to concentrate

  • Attention deficit

  • Desensitisation from information overload

  • Exposure to violence

There's so much to be gained as a family from switching your TV off or even limiting the time to once a week. For instance in the evening you could try:

reading novels together;

taking up a craft like knitting or crotchet;

playing board games;

telling a story by candlelight;

putting on a puppet play or a concert.

Just eating dinner and talking around the table instead of having the TV blaring in the background has so much to offer - sharing each other's days, listening to your kids and knowing what is happening in their lives, relationship and communication skills.

I guarantee that once your children have more TV or computer free time you will stop hearing the words "I'm bored".

I know for some families it might pose a challenge at first, but the benefits are really worth it. For more information on research into children's development and eletronic media, and for ideas to support your family in turning your TV off, I can highly recommend Set Free Childhood a parents survival guide for coping with computers and TV.


  1. Well done for posting this, Melissa.
    Packing the telly in the cupboard was the best gift I have ever given my children. I literally "set them free", and the creative play hasn't stopped! Thoroughly recommended!

  2. Once homeschooling started again this fall we told the kids-no t.v. After 2 days they never mentioned it. My daughter said, "I think tv makes me tired." Yup. It's been so much better without it!

  3. Yeah!! Melissa, you are brave. I love it when people are prepared to stand up for something and this is a great thing to stand up for.
    I have experienced the difference between children who watch tv (even a little) and those children who don't for about 10 years. There IS A BIG DIFFERENCE- in their imagination, their creativity, oral language skills and they are able to play without adult direction but also, and this is really important- in their social ability and being able to make good friends. TV free children have a much easier time in life and NEVER have behavioural issues in kindy.
    Keep up the good work!

  4. I very much agree with you! I would much rather my girls be doing someting creative or reading!

  5. This is so true. It's amazing how many homes have it on in the background all the time! I think the exposure to advertising is the worst part of it. However, I haven't ruled tv out altogether. I let my munchkins watch Playschool now and then, and then on Friday afternoon, we have a special dvd afternoon where we make popcorn and sit and watch something age-appropriate together. And this way too, no advertising!

  6. Hi Melissa,
    We have no tv in our home at all and don't miss it. My children don't even ask for it. Once a week we have a dvd afternoon, and that is a special occasion. My children are creative and cooperative and find lots of things to do without relying upon tv for entertainment or to provide themes for their play. There will come a time when they are older that we may need to look at having a tv again ... but I hope not. Our recent holiday saw us watching tv all the time and it was so noisy ... and boring!!

    By the way, thank you for adding Lavendilly Garden as a link on this website - I have just updated my Story Garden with lots of beautiful seasonal stories for families and teachers - and more to come! I am going through years worth of stories stored in my folders :)