Letting Kids Watch TV

Parents often have a hard time setting rules for their kids regarding watching TV. Should we even have a TV? Do we limit TV time? What programs are allowed? Here’s how we do it.

We have a TV in the house but we use it as a monitor only. No TV programming, no cable. The TV monitor is connected to the internet (for YouTube) and can play videos. We have pre-recorded movies that are appropriate for kids, usually classics like Back to the Future or Pixar movies that have a deep meaning (not all of them do) such as the Little Prince or Ratatouille. So we have a bunch of these videos that are pre-approved for the kids to watch. Sometimes we allow them to watch some YouTube channels such as Brave Wilderness. My son also loves browsing YouTube to watch videos of military equipment such as tanks or guns, how it works, the mechanics of it. He observes it closely and then builds it with his Legos.

YouTube is allowed only with adult supervision because who knows what kids may find there. Videos are allowed without supervision because they have all been pre-approved by us.

The rule in our family is, mom or dad can turn off TV at any time. The kids used to complain about it and throw tantrums, but we set this rule and followed it firmly, and they eventually learned to accept it and respect it when their parents say “enough.” Now they almost never complain when the TV is turned off.

You know what happens when they are only allowed to watch pre-approved videos? They get bored, which is a good thing. They have a limited number of pre-approved videos they can watch, so once they watch them many times over, they eventually get bored of TV and go do something else – read, build, draw, play outside. So we don’t ban TV altogether, because there would be resentment, and I do think there is some educational benefit from some programs. We let them have it in a controlled environment with a limited number of choices, and wait till they get bored.

Basically, the goal is to instill the idea that TV is boring and that there are better things to do.