How to Raise No TV Children

Two Parts:Starting the LifestyleCreating Alternatives

Nowadays it can be very hard to raise a so-called "No TV Kid". Yet if you want your child to have a better imagination, more free time, and treasured memories of quality time spent with family, getting rid of the TV could be a great option. Moreover, studies link frequent television viewing with obesity, lower academic performance, and other issues, so raising children without television can improve their quality of life. By choosing the right method of ending TV viewing, and by planning alternative activities, you can get your children on board with the idea and enrich their youth.

Part 1
Starting the Lifestyle

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    Explain your concerns. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that children under two do not watch TV at all, and that all other children have no more than one or two hours of screen time per day.[1][2] Explain to your children that you are trying to do what is best for them, and to encourage healthy habits.
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    Avoid ever introducing a television into your home, if possible. It can be much easier to raise children with a “no TV” policy if they have ever experienced having a television at home.[3] While there will still be temptations to watch TV in other locations, you will start strong by keeping it out of your home.
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    Set a good example. If you want to raise a no-TV child, then you will have to model good behavior.[4] Whether you completely eliminate television from your child's life or simply restrict the amount they watch, set your own viewing policy to match the same standards that you set for your child. Showing a good example for your children will make it more likely that they adopt the no-TV lifestyle.
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    Start by removing the television from your child’s room, if there is one. Studies show that having televisions in childrens' room can have a detrimental impact on their health and academic success.[5] If you are trying to ease your children off of television, you can begin by taking them out of their rooms; the children could still watch some TV in another room, but this step will already reduce screen time significantly.
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    Go cold turkey.[6] For some families, starting a no-TV lifestyle “cold turkey” (immediately cutting out all TV without a period of gradual reduction) is too difficult. For others, however, the quickest method will be the easiest. If you want to try going cold turkey, talk to your family ahead of time about the change. Set a date to begin the no-TV life, and stick to it.
    • Whether you go cold turkey or make a gradual change, the goal should be to eliminate TV and offer your child more enriching alternatives.

Part 2
Creating Alternatives

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    Reduce the amount of time a child spends watching television. Studies show that there can be some benefits to watching some amount of television in certain cases. For instance, children that watched certain enriching programs have slightly larger vocabularies, according to some research.[7] Thus, you might decide not to cut out all television right away, but to gradually reduce the amount of time the child is allowed to watch TV.
    • For instance, try reducing the amount of TV your child is permitted to watch by one hour per week, until it is zero or almost zero.
    • You can also suggest that the whole family watches a movie on television together on the weekend, but ban TV at night during the week.
    • Similarly, you might have a rule that no television is permitted until the child completes all homework or chores.[8]
    • If you do watch some TV together, talk about it afterwards. This helps increase comprehension, raise vocabulary, and generally promote bonding.
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    Establish “screen-free” zones and times. If you have not immediately removed all televisions from your household, you can start by deeming certain areas or times to be “screen-free.”[9] For instance, you can establish a rule against watching television at mealtimes, and remove televisions from areas where other activities take place, such as kitchens, dining rooms, or game rooms.
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    Make sure the child has access to non-electronic media and entertainment. Books, newspapers, games, art supplies, and other items can be immersive, entertaining, and beneficial to a child. Make sure that your child has plenty of access to these more enriching alternatives to television.[10][11]
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    Plan family and group activities. There are many, many wonderful opportunities to spend time time together that don’t involve television. You can help your child thrive without TV if you are proactive and plan alternative, group activities ahead of time—especially if you are switching from a lifestyle involving lots of TV viewing to a no-TV one. Good choices include:[12]
    • Game nights (the whole family can get together to play a favorite board game)
    • Reading out loud
    • Crafting
    • Playing music
    • Visits to the library, zoo, a museum, a park, or other favorite place
    • Playing outside with other kids in the neighborhood
    • Extracurricular activities (sports, dance, outdoors, crafts, etc.; these are great ways for your child to connect with other children, build confidence and skill, and avoid screen time)
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    Plan individual activities. There are all kinds of benefits to spending no-TV time together as a family. Children also develop well when they are given time to spend by themselves. Children can benefit from having time to immerse themselves in free reading, drawing or coloring, and other activities.[13][14]
    • Sometimes, you can take a combined approach. For instance, an entire family can read silently together, each person immersed in a book. That way, while everyone is together, they also get to act individually. This sets a good example for your child, and makes great use of no-TV time.
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    Exercise. There is a link between obesity and watching large amounts of television, so one of the most beneficial ways to use your and your child’s time instead of watching television is to exercise. Good activities include:[15][16]
    • Games such as tag and hide-and-seek
    • Dancing
    • A family walk or hike
    • Bicycling
    • Swimming
    • Sports (baseball, basketball, etc.)
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    Let your child direct activities. If your children feels like they have a say in planning the no-TV life, it can be empowering and lead to success. Talk to your children about activities that they might like to try instead of watching TV, and be supportive of the ideas. Set aside time during the week to do the activities your child wants the family to try.
    • Have fun trying out your child’s ideas, no matter what they are: building a pillow fort, having a tea party, playing with blocks and action figures, etc.

Article Info

Categories: Raising Children