Bullet Point Parenting: Are My Kids Watching Too Much TV?
“But, Mom, it’s rated PG-13.”
“Jimmy’s dad let him see Transformers, why can’t I?”
Whether the pressure comes from your own kids or other parents, every parent has watched their kids watching TV and wondered: Am I screwing them up? How much of what’s happening on screen do they really understand?
TV and movies are not inherently bad, but if we’re not making wise choices about what to watch, seemingly harmless entertainment can slowly corrupt good character.
In Matthew 6:22, Jesus says, “The eye is the lamp of the body. So, if your eye is healthy, your whole body will be full of light, but if your eye is bad, your whole body will be full of darkness.”
What we consume with our eyes affects us, and the same is true for our kids. Guarding what your kids watch doesn’t make you mean; it means you care.
Tips For Screening Your Kids’ Screen Time:
Know what your kids are watching.
Just because a TV show is on a kids channel or a movie is rated PG doesn’t mean the show’s themes will align with the principles you want to instill in your kids. For example, some shows portray parents as idiots. Others use talking back and disrespect to get a laugh. Watch the way the main characters behave, and make sure their attitude is worthy of imitation.
Take time to explain different themes or how a character could have better handled a situation. This can be a simple 10-15 minute conversation in the car or after a show ends where you ask:
- Who’s your favorite (Octonaut, Disney princess, etc.)? Why do like him/her?
- What’s your favorite part of (insert the name of show here)? Why do you like that part the best?
- What did you learn from watching it today?
Guarding what your kids watch doesn’t make you mean; it means you care.
Use the family room for watching and the bedroom for sleeping.
If kids don't have TVs in their rooms, they will congregate in the family room. As a result, you’ll spend more time watching TV as a family. When kids escape to their room to watch TV, it’s much harder to monitor what they’re watching.
Consider eliminating TV during the school week.
TV, like anything else, can become an idol. If it interferes with a family being together in meaningful ways, if more time is spent watching TV than watching and learning about each other, it might be time to rethink TV’s role in your home.
Cutting the cord during the week could be the best thing that ever happens to your family. One mom who tried this saw a miracle unfold before her eyes — the kids started playing together instead of fighting over who got to pick the show or whose turn it is to use the iPad. As an added bonus, eliminating TV during the week makes watching a movie or TV show feel like a special treat, not something we’re all entitled to.
Set the example by limiting your own TV viewing.
Quality time with our kids and with each other has far more positive and long lasting impact on children than any TV show can.
At the end of the day, parenting is a responsibility not a democracy. God has entrusted you with your kids for a reason. Part of our job as parents is to know our kids and train their hearts the best we can.
Just because a new movie comes out and everyone is seeing it doesn't mean we have to cave our kids’ request. Just because all the cool kids are watching The Walking Dead doesn't mean your kids have to watch it.
- Make a decision about what kind of TV shows are appropriate for your kids.
- Clearly communicate what’s allowed. For example, “We will be watching one 30 minute show before ..."
- Stick to your word. Being firm about how much and what kinds of media are appropriate for your family gives your kids a sense of security. And, they will figure out you are ultimately the boss.