I am starting to wonder if I should be more careful about what TV shows I watch when my kids are around. I am not talking about anything too violent or extreme but still many shows have a lot of gunfire and adult type behavior (yelling, medical emergencies, distress, etc). Right now my kids don't seem to pay too much attention but I know it is only a matter of time before they start paying closer attention.

How does everybody else deal with this? Do you wait until your children are not around until you watch TV? I find that we watch the majority of our TV after the kids are in bed but every once in a while we feel like watching TV earlier in the night.

Edit: Just to clarify, by small children I mean under 3 years old

asked 01 Oct '09, 03:36

Luke%20Foust's gravatar image

Luke Foust
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edited 01 Oct '09, 09:36

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Scott ♦♦

Also what ages are we talking about as "small children."

(01 Oct '09, 03:48) bbrown

Hi Luke, I answered a similar question, that may be helpful to you. Its also tagged television.

(01 Oct '09, 06:26) Emi

12next »

Our son just barely turned 2, and there isn't much outside of Sesame Street and Disney movies that we let him watch right now. We have a DVR that we use to record the shows that we like to watch, and just have to make a point of waiting to watch them until after he's gone to bed. In the long run, this basically forces us to watch less TV ourselves, which isn't really a bad thing...


answered 01 Oct '09, 04:57

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I agree with Brandon, our Son primarily watches PBS . . . which means that is what I have to watch during the day (not the most exciting). I usually DVR the shows I want to watch and will either watch them during nap time or when he goes to bed at night. I think right now children that are starting to imitate and pick up on words that others say, I would be cautious of what show you are watching while they are still awake. I do think there are some shows that I wouldn't mind having on if my child were up but I don't want to waste watching my shows when he is up because I want to concentrate only on the show :)!


answered 01 Oct '09, 05:49

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Melissa 1
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I would suggest getting some sort of DVR recorder like Tivo and turning off the TV until the kids are in bed.

I don't think exposure to any sort of TV is good for young children and that it should be limited if not cut off completely. I realize that cutting it off might not be an option and is difficult. We don't. Our 2 year old watches 30min-1hr of Curious George or her Winnie the Pooh video a few times a week in the morning. If I am really sick she might get a little more. It is all DVR or DVD, nothing live.

No adult TV shows ever while she is around. Evenings before bed are spent playing, going for walks, reading and eating dinner together. My husband and I don't watch a lot of TV in general but what we do watch we record on our DVR and watch during our free time. We don't watch anything ultra violent or sexual in nature, but that doesn't matter to us.

Another plus of DVRs is that you can fast forward through, or even skip commercials. It is pretty important to us to keep our daughter away from advertising as much as possible.


answered 05 Oct '09, 15:27

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user-382 (google)
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My 4 year old repeats everything he hears... and laughs at fights and violence on TV. We're starting to turn off the TV more often as a result. Like Brandon said... it forces us to watch less TV which is probably a good thing. :)


answered 01 Oct '09, 12:09

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The best advice I can give you is to buy a pvr, we have one since 2 years now, and we only watch what we want, when we want. Otherwise the TV is off. This also solves the commercials problem a good deal, skip 5 min ahead, and you're done.

Otherwise we look after that our son only watches that what is appropriate for him.

Greetings from Germany

Huibert Gill


answered 01 Oct '09, 14:04

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Huibert Gill
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For starters, it only seems that the kids are not paying attention. They are, even if not at a conscious level. I have read some articles about kids first conscious sounds being sounds of TV commercials - so even infants are capable of recognizing and memorizing what they see and hear. Therefore - beware, the kids notice EVERYTHING.


answered 03 Oct '09, 20:34

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Bartosz Radaczyński
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I would agree that kids are taking in more then people assume. You wouldn't happen to have a reference for the articles would you?

(05 Oct '09, 18:33) Tammy ♦♦

We've made the decision that we will not set our daughter in front of the TV until she's at least 2. We'll see how that goes, since she just turned 3 months. We made this decision because TV is too confusing for small children. Think about your average 30 minute sitcom. The show starts by introducing a plot line, then goes to commercial for a few minutes, then returns to that plot line, etc. The commercials themselves have their own plot lines. Kids' short-term memories are really stressed trying to keep all of this straight.

Once our little girl turns 2, we'll allow a minimal amount of TV watching, and we'll be sure to turn on the closed captioning, because that's a great way to help kids learn to read.


answered 02 Nov '09, 18:12

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Scottie T
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edited 03 Nov '09, 16:35

It's early on, but you'll find that children are surprisingly adept at discerning commercials from the shows and switching contexts as needed.

(02 Nov '09, 19:59) bbrown

Do you have any support for the contention that closed captioning is a "great way to help kids learn to read?" Because I couldn't think of a worse way to learn to read. 1) Adults have trouble following captions while watching a show; 2) The words scroll by far too quickly to focus on which words might possibly be related to what they're hearing; 3) Learning to read is best done via phonics, which is understanding the letters that match the sounds which comprise words, and captions never emphasize phonemes; 4) Captions are for adults, so they use words too advanced for beginning readers.

(02 Nov '09, 20:00) bbrown

My sister is hearing impaired, so we always had the captions on when I was younger. As a personal anecdote, I always read above my grade level, and I attribute part of that to having the captions on. To respond to your individual points: 1) Sure, it takes a little getting used to, but that straightens out in a week or two.

(02 Nov '09, 22:09) Scottie T

2) The words tend to lag behind the audio, so yes, that is a bit annoying, but it's a great help when you mishear something, because they captions can usually help you figure out what the character really said. Sometimes, it captions things that are said at a low volume that those without captions would totally miss.

(02 Nov '09, 22:10) Scottie T

3) Closed captioning has been called the "mechanical reading tutor." There are anecdotes about children of deaf parents, who typically have language deficiencies, that enter 1st grade reading at a 3rd grade level. Beyond anecdotes, there are studies that have found that closed captioning has improved literacy. See this article from NYT from 1991. http://bit.ly/10lUN0 4) Would you not agree that a great way to learn new vocabulary is to both see it and hear it in context? Besides, I don't consider any word to be too advanced for my daughter to hear to look at.

(02 Nov '09, 22:12) Scottie T

As for your first comment, I beg to differ, for children under 2, but I'm going based on what I've read, not from personal experience. If you have and support for the contention that children are "surprisingly adept at discerning commercials from the shows and switching contexts as needed", I'd be glad to take a look. =0)

(02 Nov '09, 22:15) Scottie T

(Sorry about the multiple comments. I can't post longer comments until I earn more rep.)

(02 Nov '09, 22:16) Scottie T

+1 for turning off the TV until age 2, as recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics. But I think you're kidding yourself that closed captioning helps them learn to read (at least, that's my opinion until I see citations of a controlled, peer-reviewed study).

(02 Nov '09, 22:26) lgritz

@bbrown: actually, the controlled studies show that kids are much worse than we think about discerning the difference between show content and advertising up to age 8. See http://www.med.umich.edu/yourchild/topics/tv.htm

(02 Nov '09, 22:29) lgritz

@Ingritz, see the sources cited in this link for a list of studies: http://deafness.about.com/od/captioning/a/captionbenefits.htm

(03 Nov '09, 16:34) Scottie T
showing 5 of 10 show 5 more comments

There are a couple of shows that we let our children watch with us. Wipeout, Biggest Loser, and Survivor are the primetime ones and a couple of shows on PBS like Cooking with Ming Tsai and Rick Steve's travel shows on the weekend. We watch everything else after they're in bed.

We've generally had perfectly fine results with them but the commercials are what kills us. They'll advertise horror shows (they call them mysteries but come on) during Wipeout. We've instituted a mute policy on commercials, which is generally a good idea. Our kids clamor to be able to be the one who uses the remote and they are conscientious about muting and unmuting. The graphic images are much less graphic if you can't hear the screaming or the gun shots.


answered 01 Oct '09, 03:47

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Muting sounds good!

(01 Oct '09, 04:07) Emi

yeah our kid loves Wipeout :)

(01 Oct '09, 10:07) epaga

I think one of the most important things to do is talk to your kids. I won't overly sensor mine, meaning I would let them watch a fair number of the shows we watch (House, The Hustle, Top Gear, Biography, Lie to Me, etc) and have regular discussions with the kids about what it is that we are watching, whats interesting about them and why they make those shows. I would however be a bit more careful about shows we like CSI, NCIS and other shows with really violent murder scenes as I would not want to scare them. Some of the others that are really beyond kids understanding like '2 Pints of Lager and a Packet of Crisps' and Little Britain are off limits too. If you let them see shows made for adult eyes and not have a dialogue with them I think you are better off not letting them watch at all as they could come away with false and misguided impressions of the world around them, not knowing whats real and whats Hollywood.


answered 01 Oct '09, 23:32

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I heavily enforce bedtime on Thursday so that I can watch CSI. Much as I love it, I'm not going to let my 4 year old stay in the room while I watch it. And I have to be careful of watching Dr. Who with her around. Most of the time it's not too bad, but every so often she'll tell me it's too scary, so I turn it off and finish it later.

(19 Oct '09, 15:23) mkcoehoorn

In my experience it's too much, and not good for them.

They absorb everything I have a two year old and I can see he repeats things we said weeks back when he was "not paying attention"

We show him just a few clips from the internet (kids songs, maybe a pocoyo episode, maybe some super y).

And we show him the "teach your baby to sign" and "baby can read".

I agree with the rest, a bit less of TV for us is not bad, and we've replaced some of those for play-doh, drawing, and playing.


answered 05 Oct '09, 17:58

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edited 05 Oct '09, 18:36

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Tammy ♦♦

I changed the wording a little to reflect your experience and remove the opinion. I know it is a fine line but we prefer people speak from experience or referenced facts versus opinion. Please take a look at the faq.

(05 Oct '09, 18:38) Tammy ♦♦

Got it, thanks.-

(05 Oct '09, 19:06) webclimber
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Asked: 01 Oct '09, 03:36

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Last updated: 03 Nov '09, 16:35