A Ban on TV for Children?

What would happen with your children if you turned off the television for a day? How about a whole week? A whole month? A year or more?


What would happen with your children if you turned off the television for a day? How about a whole week? A whole month? A year or more?

Would there be temper tantrums and behavior that mimics withdrawal from an addictive substance? What would your children really be like with no television for an extended period?

In her book, "Growing Up on Television," author Kate Moody writes, "Each year children read less and less and watch television more and more. The typical child sits in front of the television about four hours a day — and for children in lower socioeconomic families the amount of time thus spent is even greater. In either case, the child spends more time with TV than he or she spends talking to parents, playing with peers, attending school, or reading books. TV time usurps family time, play time, and the reading time that could promote language development."

Pretty heavy stuff, wouldn’t you say?


And that doesn’t even touch the amount of violence depicted in prime time television shows, the increase in childhood obesity as a result of passive viewing, the fact that research indicates that TV consistently reinforces gender role and racial stereotypes, and the number of prescription drug, unhealthy food, toy and alcohol-related advertisements in commercials.

So as a parent, how can you break the television habit in your home and encourage more active habits and activities, such as reading, sports, board games, etc.?

Here are a few suggestions:

  • Treat TV viewing as a privilege, not a right.
  • Limit the amount of TV viewing and allow it only on weekends.
  • Take all televisions out of bedrooms — including yours.
  • Engage in family activities, such as board or card games, reading, sports or library activities.
  • Set an example by limiting your own TV watching.
  • Have a cupboard filled with healthy alternatives to TV — science projects, arts and crafts, scrap booking materials, cards and board games, age-appropriate books and magazines, building kits and models.


Expect a lot of whining and groaning when you first put your TV ban into effect. It’s not easy to break an addiction. But think of the effect that this will have on your child’s imagination, reading and writing ability and restful sleep, all of which are affected by chronic television viewing.

After all, it’s called the 'idiot box' for a reason!


Dr. Steven L. Levy is a chiropractor in Woodbury.

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

Jaimie Cura May 10, 2012 at 12:28 AM
"I think that's a wonderful idea. It sure would cut down on the number of young children getting in trouble at school for singing the M&M jingle "i'm too sexy for my clothes." -- Susan Yale Ronalter wrote on our Facebook page. (https://www.facebook.com/WoodMiddPatch)
Will Wilkin May 10, 2012 at 12:58 PM
Well-put, Dr Levy, I think I agree with every idea in your article, except I take it further because you back down to "moderate" television-watching suggestions. For us, there is ALWAYS something better to do. No television in our house, as part of a deliberate lifestyle choice. So many reasons, but probably the deepest is the superficiality of it, the portrayal of people and their values and their thought patterns is almost universally conformist or a dramatization of criminality, neither of which are mindsets that appeal to me. The conformist aspect is the underlying assumption that a society of atomized consumers under corporate rule is normal and good. The whole idea of each individual holed up in secluded attendance on television is part of that atomization, that rendering of the person into a passive sponge of centralized sources of culture and information paid for by the biggest corporations that have also bought our political system. You will never find a show that challenges those assumptions and facts about our society. Take TV news programs. They are truly lies and propaganda. Even when every word they say is "true," the selection of a few facts from a much larger and complex reality results in a distorted and ultimately political portrayal of events as the most powerful institutions of our society would have us understand the world. Better to fill your house with musical instruments and books, and get your news from diverse internet sources.


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