It has recently become confusing for new parents to make intelligent choices regarding their children and television watching. Baby-boomers, who have already raised their children, were very divided on the issue. Some Boomers felt free to allow their children to watch as much as they wanted because they had spent many hours in front of the TV as a kid and grew up into fine adults. Another segment of Boomers were extremely strict and banished the “evil” box from their homes completely.
Now we are seeing the TV being used to educate tiny kids and even channels targeted precisely at babies! Who is right?
To start with, the Baby Boomer generation was the first to really grow up with TV as a normal part of every day life. The programs at that time were very mild and non-controversial. Even June and Ward Cleaver (Leave It To Beaver Show) slept in separate beds and they were a happily married mom and dad. Sex was something that never happened on TV or else it happened long after the screen faded to black. As you can imagine, bad language was not even an issue in those days, at least not as it is today.
So to compare television viewing by children alive now to the shows that an older generation was watching is just not giving the question justice. On the other hand, the families that totally banished the TV discovered another problem, as the kids got older. The TV became a longed for, highly desired pastime that tempted them to watch at their friend’s homes as long as they could get away with it. Placing too much emphasis on TV viewing, either too much freedom or none at all seems to be the real issue here.
As a parent you are the leader in the value system of your own home and family. You decide how much or how little you want the television to be a part of your family’s daily life. If you personally really enjoy TV as a way to relax in the evenings, set up some boundaries for yourself and for your children to follow. It is advisable to make a clear line for the whole family to use as the boundary of the shows that are okay and the shows that are off limits.
If TV is not your way of relaxing and you would rather be out walking or playing sports during your time off, include your kids in these activities as often as possible. You will be modeling the values that your family live by and make their own.
Studies have clearly shown that there is a connection between TV watching and childhood obesity. It would make sense then, to examine how you are going to handle the TV issue while your child is still very young. Training up a child in the way he should go is a Biblical principle that has worked for generations.