A few weeks ago I deleted all our Roku kid channels but two — PBS Kids and National Geographic Kids. There are several reasons that led me to this decision and have me considering a tv-free summer. Is that possible!?
My kids watched way too much tv during our move. It allowed Marcello and I to pack and clean and answer the non-stop emails and calls that come with buying and selling. Once we were moved I noticed that some of the the over-watching habits remained. They were also talking about bad magic and potions and evil spells all time. Whoa, Nick and Disney Junior!
Also, I can see that one of my children is prone to get hooked on video games and screens. I won’t let the kids have video games yet, but he found shows of other people playing games on Amazon Prime and would watch that for hours if I would let him! What is fun about that? I have no idea.
What I saw in our house was:
- Too much screen time with no time limit.
- Less creative or outdoor time.
- And too much outside influence for little minds.
I truly believe that our enemy would love nothing more than to influence us negatively by what we watch. The question I began asking myself is how much influence and unsupervised time with my kids was I freely giving him?
Even the content of commercials is terrifying. The other night the kids were watching a show with Xfinity’s On Demand at my mom’s house. When the show ended it jumped to a main menu with commercials streaming. Don’t you know it was for a horror movie — blood and knives. Picture me yelling to divert attention, grabbing the remote and jumping in front of the tv in in one swift motion! Did I mention my mom also had her neighbors over who I was meeting for the first time? Haha! I made an impression.
I am a firm believer in guarding what you see on tv, as a child or adult. Keeping your eyes and mind pure is difficult, but with media you do have a choice in what your mind witnesses and processes. Marcello and I don’t watch rated R movies anymore. I used to have nightmares and since I stopped watching murder mysteries or violent subject matter, they have stopped. It’s true. My brain couldn’t process all the unnatural imagery it was seeing.
And if that’s the case for me, how much more is it for small children who do not have developed brains and can’t differentiate between fiction and reality?
I know this can be a touchy subject, and that’s why I’ve been reluctant to post it. Since this has been on my mind, I tried to read studies and inform myself of new data. I found an opinion piece on Psychology Today saying there is no evidence tv is bad for kids. I found another article saying tv decreases frontal lobe activity and ability to pay attention. I don’t know, but I think we all know that that hours and hours of TV a day isn’t good for anyone.
I also don’t think any kid has ever said, “The best time in my life was that summer that I watched tv for hours on end every day!” The childhood memories that stand out to me were pretend play, experiencing nature and laughing with friends.
This is definitely not a guilt trip either. Heaven knows I have no business guilt-tripping anyone about too much tv time! I think lighting would strike me.
So what does that look like?
We haven’t had cable in probably five years. We use a Roku and stream channels. Recently we have access to my parents’ DISH network, so we had Nick Junior and Disney Junior. I deleted those. I got rid of Netflix when we were saving to move. I have an Amazon Prime account and decided to delete that channel too. Although, I have to add that Amazon has a great parental control system you can set to need a pin number if you want to watch anything other than G. (Some unrated things can slip through the cracks though.)
The only channel I feel completely safe with right now is PBS Kids, so that is the only one I kept. And it’s free!
When I told the kids the channels were going away, I didn’t hear as much fuss as I thought I would. They really like PBS Kids shows, and I have never seen anything inappropriate or out of line, even with the older kids shows. The boys love Odd Squad, Arthur and Wild Kratts. Clara is all about Daniel Tiger, Pinkalicious and Caillou.
The only problem was that Luca was upset not to have Amazon Prime nature shows, so I paid $5 to have National Geographic Kids. This actually works out better, because he was learning a little too much about mating!
I have also paid $5 in the past too for Jelly Telly, which has Friends and Heroes (my boys LOVE this show) and lots of other Christian kid shows. I was thinking about spending my $5 on National Kids Geographic one month, Jelly Telly another month and so on. Do you have any suggestions?
As far as the whole family watching shows, we can agree on the Food Network and nature shows. That’s about it! I’m compiling a list of family movies that are innocent and safe, though. If you have ideas, I would be so excited to add them.
Last summer I disconnected the Roku and only let the kids have DVDs that we own and were mom-approved. They still have access to those and watch them periodically.
I have thought about trying at least a week without tv for the family as an experiment preluding to summer. I also saw there are devices that shut off the tv after a set amount of time. We could do an hour a day while Clara naps.
I imagine without as much tv they will need more of my attention, so I might only blog once a week instead of twice. We can do this summer bucket list, have more reading time and go on some adventures we wouldn’t have otherwise. I also want to use this time when they are little and home with me to cultivate their relationships with each other and teach them what is important in life.
I’m looking at this post as more of a conversation starter than a “how-to” piece. If you have any experience with tv-free life, please tell me all about it! What have you learned from it?
And if you have advice on parental filter services like Vidangel or internet filters, I’d love to hear that too.
More conversation on Instagram
A few weeks ago I deleted all our Roku kid channels but two — PBS Kids and National Geographic Kids. There are several reasons that led me to this decision and have me considering a tv-free summer. Is that possible!? My kids watched way too much tv during our move. It allowed Marcello and I to pack and clean and answer the non-stop emails and calls that come with buying and selling. Once we were moved I noticed that some of the the over-watching habits remained. They were also talking about bad magic and potions and evil spells all time. Whoa, Nick and Disney Junior! ◽Also, I can see that one of my children is prone to get hooked on video games and screens. I won’t let the kids have video games yet, but he found shows of other people playing games on Amazon Prime and would watch that for hours if I would let him! What is fun about that? I have no idea. ◽What I saw in our house was: ➖Too much screen time with no time limit. ➖Less creative or outdoor time. ➖And too much outside influence for little minds. ◽I truly believe that our enemy would love nothing more than to influence us negatively by what we watch. The question I began asking myself is how much influence and unsupervised time with my kids was I freely giving him? ◽Come join the conversation over on my blog today. And if you have any experience with tv-free life, please please share your tips and thoughts!
There is one side note as I wrap up. Please join me in praying for those people who do the difficult job of filtering videos on YouTube, Facebook and the like. I have prayed for them ever since I read an article in WIRED magazine about how devastating it can be on their lives. These people that protect us by taking down real deaths, violence, hate and pedophilia become suspicious of everyone. After all the terrible things they see, they can start to assume everyone is keeping a horrible secret, even family members or their spouse. Imagine what those horrific images do to the human psyche.
Let’s pray for them together. Let’s pray for the movie industry — less shock and horror and more wonder and learning. Let’s pray for the next generation — that they would use screens for healthy entertainment and growth, but not as an escape or to their detriment. Lord, as families, please show us the balance and protect our minds and spirits. In Jesus’ name, Amen.