How much TV is appropriate?


When I was pregnant with the Bug, I swore he wasn’t going to watch ANY TV until he was older and even then, it would be extremely limited…like one show a day. I didn’t (and don’t) want to be the mom who had the kids zoning out to the TV when they should be outside playing.

Bug didn’t start watching any shows until well after his first birthday. Then it was just on occasion.  The REAL television watching came after his second birthday.  We watched primarily in the morning so he could sit on my bed while hubby and I got ready for work. On Saturday mornings, he watched more because he got up so ridiculously early.

Then the baby was born.

All my initial plans and thoughts went out the window.  When things got crazy, I turned on the TV.  Not at all when I envisioned when I daydreamed about my Mother of the Year award.

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that kids under 2 years old not watch any TV and that those older than 2 watch no more than 1 to 2 hours a day of quality programming. I think we typically fall into that range, but let’s be real here.  I’m home with two kids.  Life gets crazy.  Chaos ensues.

Miss E is 7 1/2 months and while she doesn’t watch TV, she’s certainly been exposed to way more TV than her brother at this age. But I know I’m not alone.  How can you possibly hold the same standards with your second (or third, fourth..) child that you had with your first?

Enter mom guilt.  (yes again)

I am desperately trying to push it aside.  Because you know what?  Sometimes TV is a lifesaver. There I said it.

Yes, TV is sometimes my babysitter.  But only from the standpoint that I need to finish the dishes, make a phone call or do some laundry.  TV allows me to get stuff done around the house.

Several of my social media moms agreed.

Tina from Life Without Pink said “My kids watch TV and I think it’s ok in moderation. I mean if it weren’t for a half hour of tv here and there I think I would never eat, shower or sit down!”

Kadi commented “My kids have always watched tv. I’m not of the mindset that it will ruin them as long as it is in moderation.”

And really, moderation is key.  My son loves the outdoors.  He’d play outside all day if we’d let him so he definitely gets his exercise.

I asked around to see what others thought about TV and here’s what they said:

  • I was pretty adamant about not having my son watch TV until he was 2. For me, it was the fear of possible autism links and I felt that he needed real world learning (sensory development is so important at that age). When I would go to other mom’s houses, their kids would stare blankly at the screen and mine didn’t even have a passing interest. – All Things Fadra
  • My son has never been a zoned out TV watcher so I allow more than I should (he’s almost 3). He has always played and danced to the music so it is an active thing. I have to say he loved the baby videos and still asks for them. I think when it comes to these things moderation is key. I am sure if he glassed over and his jaw dropped while watching I would be more strict. – Lil’ Kid Things
  • My oldest daughter definitely didn’t watch as much TV as her younger siblings. In fact, she probably only started watching TV(PBS only) when she was 2 because I was so deathly sick-pregnant with her little sister that all I could do was lay on the couch and be near her while she played or watched tv. The younger kids started watching earlier, for sure, because they were in the room while the big kids were watching. The one thing I noticed was that the younger siblings had a more “mature” TV preference at an earlier age. – Better in Bulk
  • My oldest (15) watched little TV. I remember how frustrated I would get when she wouldn’t watch a movie during her sister’s naptime. She only wanted to watch a 25 minute show not a full-length movie. I needed to work during naptime which led to lots of frustration on my part. I would have to go in and rewind the video every 25 minutes. My younger two watched more TV but only the morning shows when they were toddlers and preschoolers. Always watched PBS or Disney. I never had TV on in the afternoons or evenings. The younger two (now 8 and 13) are much more in to TV still. The oldest watches Project Runway and America’s Next Top Model and that’s it. We don’t have TV on in the house until everyone has done homework, chores, music practices. – Musings from Me
  • True confessions here. My kids have watched A LOT of TV. My son watched more TV than my daughter, and he’s the one that’s off the chart smart. My daughter is bright but school isn’t as easy for her. We were always particular about what they watched(and still are) but we never treated the TV as a negative. They spend a lot of time outside, and watch less TV now than ever, they are 14 and 11. – A Million Boxes
  • My older child did not start watching TV until after she was two because I am one of those moms who made a list of Very Important Things That Will Help My Baby and intended to follow them. When kiddo 2 came along I managed to keep him away from TV for awhile because we let our daughter watch her one show a day while he napped. However, once I discovered that one year old + exersaucer + puffs + Max & Ruby = showering, the Rules That Any Good and Right Mom Would Follow sort of fell away. However, we did hold to our lowest common denominator rule when it comes to show and movie choice. Even if it’s okay for our older child, if it’s not age appropriate for our younger, we don’t allow it. – Resourceful Mommy

What do you think? How much is too much?  And how do you handle TV with more than one child?


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  1. says

    My kids are grade school aged kids and honestly during the week they don’t watch television at all. With activities, homework, etc. they just don’t have time. Their weekends are filled with soccer and friends, so really my husband and I don’t monitor television watching any more. However when they were little, we had to be more careful. My rule was 1 hour on weekdays and 2 on weekend days. However I can honestly say that this was probably one rule that my husband and I broke the most. :)

  2. Brandy says

    Man I worry about this all the time. I have found TV helps my kind wind down. After dinner, he gets 20-30 minutes. Sometimes he doesn’t want it and we play instead but I find he is just more ready for bedtime routine with it I have to say it has encouraged a crazy imagination. He plays with his toys and comes up with all kinds of peril scenarios. I love it. I know regular sensory play wouldn’t create some of the things he comes up with. When all else fails, I remember that I watched a ton of tv as a kid and now, I could deal with out it most of the time…so something to be said for that I guess.

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