|Image from here|
They come from a long list of TV watchers, so it seems that genetics may have something to do with it. Genetic predisposition and busy parents. And personal preferences. And rainy days in a small house. And keeping kids quiet while other's sleep in said small house. You know, a lot of reasons.
One TV and four children means that they have to learn to negotiate. Two are still into the Wiggles, Hi-5 and Play School. Two tend more towards Ben 10, Generation Rex and other equally boyish, violent cartoons.
I love hearing them work out how the scheduling will go while I cook dinner. Usually the 'babies' get about 10 minutes before the boys get to change the channel and watch 'their shows'.
Lately, I have been weaning them all.
Firstly, we instituted the 'activity hour' between 3.30 and 4.30pm where everyone spends the hour outside playing or gardening or hunting for bugs or kicking the ball around or going to the park (anything in the great outdoors). One hour usually stretches into two thereby eliminating the need for TV negotiations.
Next we introduced some 'bumps' on the way to the TV. When someone asks for TV time, they immediately get bombarded with other options for play - a board game, cars, Lego, bikes, craft activities (which are always set up, ready to go), watering the veggie patch, you get the idea?
Then, we started watching the news when the children's TV would have been on. Nothing bores them more than listening to someone tell the news. This usually leads them to playing Lego in their rooms, doing a puzzle or reading a book.
I haven't quite managed to deal with the 'down time' issue, when the older boys need to remain reasonably quiet while the younger two have a nap. Doo Dah has taken to watching a taped session of Masterchef during this time and I somehow feel that is 'better' than Ben 10. Is it? It feels like it could be!
We have been successful in reducing TV watching time significantly in our household using these three easy steps. But there is still aways to go. The ultimate goal would be getting rid of the television all together. We have tried it before. But I am the only householder in favour of that!
How do you keep your children's viewing to a minimum? What do you think is a reasonable amount of time in front of the TV for the 0-5 range?