Before I begin this post, let me just say my children do not watch television.
Sure, they see a little when we go to a friend’s house or they stay a few days with Grandmama and Granddaddy, but at our house, we NEVER turn on the TV while the kids are awake — only exception: football season.
There is just soooo much research out there about the correlations between television viewing and language delays, attention spans/ADD, obesity, and violence. Here’s just one study: Toddlers and TV: Early Exposure Has Negative and Long-Term Impact, but a quick Google search will reveal lots and lots more. Plus, I just don’t like how zombified kids become while they are watching TV and how un-interactive it is. I think TV can be that way for adults, too. In fact, we only have the “regular” television channels in our home — no satellite or cable here!
That said, we do have some videos the kids are allowed to watch. We love the Signing Time series. I’ll probably do a whole post on that one day soon.
We also have a few Veggie Tales, a couple of Thomas the Tank Engine, and a few movies (Cars–Luke’s favorite–and The Jungle Book). The Signing Time videos and the other shorter videos (~30 minutes each) I let the kids choose when they watch — one per day if they want. Sometimes they watch one every day for awhile; then they’ll go a few days without asking. The movies (like Cars) are reserved for family movie nights when we all have popcorn and watch together, or for weekend mornings when Mom or Dad might want a little more sleep.
I started letting Luke watch videos around age 2 (no TV at all before that really), and Lilah began upwards of 1 year old being allowed to watch what Luke was watching, but even now at 21 months she is not very interested in anything other than Signing Time. Having never spent a lot of time watching TV or seeing their parents watch TV, the kids never really ask to watch when we’re at home. It is funny though that they do ask when we go to their Aunt’s or grandparent’s houses where the television is just naturally on more.
I feel much better about my children watching videos than TV because there are no commercials (although they sneak an awful lot into the previews of DVDs now and sometimes it can’t be skipped!), and because I can preview what they’ll be watching first if I want to. Some things that come on television these days — even meant for kids — is just shocking to me!!
All that being said — I got an idea yesterday for renting L&L a movie. Redbox — which is a movie rental vending machine of sorts, often found at drug or grocery stores, which rents movies for $1/per night — sends out occasional free movie codes.
Many of these movie codes come on Mondays. My husband and I can’t always commit to watching a movie on a Monday night. The movie would have to be returned by 9pm the following Tuesday night, so it’s unlikely we could get the kids to bed, watch the movie, AND get it returned in time if we waited until Tuesday to watch it either; so I got the bright idea that I could rent the movie for the kids on Monday, and they could watch it during the day on Tuesday. Then we could return it before 9pm, thus making the movie completely free entertainment for the kids. (I get the free codes via text message on my cell phone. You can sign up on their website.)
So, yesterday, we walked over to the grocery store and rented TWO movies (because my husband gets the Redbox codes texted to him as well); we just had to checkout twice to use both codes. We rented a movie for us to watch that night (which we fell asleep during….oh well; it was free!) and we rented Pop Goes Thomas for L&L to watch on Tuesday. The kids and I watched it today between breakfast and lunch.
Is this something I’d do every week? Probably not. Was it fun and did the kids enjoy it? Yes and mostly. Luke, of course, loved it. Lilah watched about 5 minutes of it and then went off to play. (That’s my girl!)
Regardless of how this post has come across, I don’t consider myself to be a TV Nazi, I’d just rather my kids spend most of their time actively engaged using their brains and their bodies — learning how to entertain themselves and not always relying on things to entertain them. But if you’re looking for some free entertainment to mix it up a little, sign up for those Redbox codes (or even if you want a movie now — it’s just a buck!). We’ve been getting the codes for a long time, but seldom use them. Now that I’ve realized I could use them for the kids so easily, we’ll probably swing by to pick out a movie just for fun now and then.
And next time, I’ll have the kids stimulate their brains by helping me make popcorn in the Whirley-Pop first!
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