Wednesday, December 30, 2009

I ♥ TV

I've been wanting to do a post about TV for a while....and I mean, why not? Between the money it cost to buy the four TVs in the house, the electricity to run them, and the cost of the cable that brings my favorite shows, we certainly spend enough money on it. It's a huge part of our lives. Frankly, I'm surprised it's taken me this long to write about our electronic family member. What I want to address specifically is the boundaries we all put on TV viewing.

I know there are a lot of TV Free Households out there, and I think that is awesome and I can completely understand the desire to not have a television. It will never be my choice though. I love my TV oh so much. I love 30 Rock. I love The Weather Channel. I love Spongebob Squarepants. I love it when I'm sick in bed and there is "nothing good on TV" and I find myself watching something trashy and genital warty like Rock of Love or something smart that I've seen a thousand times like The Hunt for Red October. In case you're not following me, I love my TV.

When it comes to what my kids watch I would probably be considered liberal, perhaps even too lenient, by most. My son is allowed to watch just about anything he wants, including raunchier shows like The Cleveland Show or Family Guy. We allow this because my son is a good kid, he can be trusted to not repeat things he hears on TV, and also because we usually watch these shows with him and have no problem discussing some (ahem) unsavory things that may arise. Say what you want about junk TV, but it definitely opens the door for communicating about topics that may not otherwise come up in everyday conversation. Well, at least not everyday conversation with an almost 12 year old.

Of course my way with the boy doesn't work as well with the girl. I made the mistake of letting her watch South Park because I thought for sure she wouldn't understand it, get bored after five minutes, and then fall asleep. Well, my plan backfired and now I have a preschooler running around the house singing "Mr. Hankey, the Christmas Poo." Yeah, not my best work as a mother. There are going to have to be a different set of rules for the girl.

This isn't to say that our household is completely lawless when it comes to television. Even I have my limits:

*I hate the Disney Channel. HATE IT. I hate the phony and unrealistic children, teenagers, and families that abound on that channel. I hate the nauseatingly fake chasteness of Hannah Montana. And don't even get me started on The Jonas Brothers and their purity rings. Barf. I mean it. BARF. It's not that I've ever banned the channel, I've just always passed right on by it when looking for something to watch, and for the most part the kids do the same.

*I hate how Nickelodeon airs shows over and over and over again. For instance, there is a show on Nickelodeon called iCarly. It first aired on September 8, 2007. I don't doubt that I've seen certain episodes 20+ times. Sometimes I'll see the kids watching the same episode for the second or third time in a week. This is about the time I turn off the TV and tell the kids to go find something to do.

*Aside from checking out the weather, I don't watch TV during the day. It's just far too much of a time waste for me. All it takes is one episode of Law and Order to suck me in and the next thing I know I've sat on the couch for five straight hours, having left only once to open a can of garbanzo beans for lunch.

*We cancelled our digital cable. This decision came after I realised the only thing we were watching were Nickelodeon cartoons, albeit on a different channel, that we had already seen dozens of times. Yeah, well worth the extra $20 a month.

*Personally, I try not to just flick through the channels watching crap. If there is nothing on that I really want to watch, I turn the TV off and read a book.

I have to admit that what originally prompted me to write about television was that I keep seeing the commercial for the FLO TV Personal Television. In case you haven't seen it, it shows a boy about preschool age locking himself in the bathroom at home with his personal television. As much as I love my television, I think it's deplorable that a personal TV is being marketed to small children. Why does a child, who is at home, need to barricade himself in the bathroom to watch TV? ( I won't even begin to rant about the fact that the kid is watching The Fairly Oddparents, a Nickelodeon cartoon that's on at least twice a day!)

Which brings me to my final rule:

*No portable TVs and, aside from the occasional video clip, no watching "television" on the computer.

So, now I want to ask you, do you have a TV (or TVs)? If so, are there rules in your house as to what can be watched and when? If you don't have kids, do you have personal rules about your own TV viewing? Of course, no judgements here, I'm just curious.


Daphne said...

I went for years and years without TV and didn't miss it (well, maybe just a *little* but it gave me a good excuse to go hang out at my friend's to watch my show). Terri likes TV so we have it. I'm not opposed to TV -- in fact, I really enjoy it -- but I'm okay without it. That said, I like watching TV shows more than I like watching movies. two hours is too long for me. I also think certain TV shows (like Buffy!) pack a lot more into them than you can into a movie. And let's not forget the p*rn channels of HGTV and Food Network. :) If I had kids, I think I'd be fairly lenient unless it became obvious that there was a problem. Some kids lose their minds over TV, and others barely glance at it. Side note: Terri sometimes watches Fox News just to see what the other side is saying. I can't stand to even see the logo. So I walk out whenever it's on.

Tammie said...

HA. when i had the digital cable box i put a parental block on Fox News, it was like it didnt even exist. ahhh..good times.

also, i think you're right on the money with kids. mine have both sort of learned to police themselves and if they are left in front of the TV too long, they usually just walk away and find something else to do.

Dani said...

We have 2 televisions. The main one (the big one) is in the living room and is hooked up to cable. We do have the high-def DVR-capable cable on that TV. We don't have any paid movie channels. Any shows can be seen on DVD nowadays. I insist on having NBA League Pass. It's not optional. I told the Mr. that I would sell bodily fluids at the Plasma Alliance if I had to. He has never made me pimp my plasma.

The other TV is in The Boy's room. It isn't hooked up to cable. Therefore it's useless for anything other than movies. They are only allowed to watch movies on Friday and Saturday. Of course there are some movies we all watch together, but if the Longhorns are playing on a Saturday night, I want to really be able to watch the game...they want to watch Space Chimps. This is a time that the "other" TV can be put to use.

I started turning the TV off during the day this summer. And it was great. We didn't turn it on until we came in from playing in the white trash pool in the afternoon. Once school started again, I let them watch one show when they get home and then we turn it off or I put it on the news.

The TV is on all evening, but I don't really watch any shows. We listen to the news or usually a basketball game. Or The Mr. watches British car shows like Wheeler Dealers.

I'm not too strict with the TV. The Boy used to have a crush on "Sarah" from the original CSI. He was about 3. But it's like you said: they are good kids and it hasn't been a problem. I find more problems with their attitude when they have been watching those little bastards Zac & Cody. So, like you, I avoid the Disney Channel and the regular Nick channel at all costs. They are limited to Nick Jr. or cartoons about Spiderman.

Yes, I know. We are so damn cool. Ahem.

Tammie said...

dani: i hate zach and cody with a passion and i feel like they are a great example of exactly what i hate about that channel. two incredibly boring boys with no discernible skills or talent but kids all over america want to be them because they have great hair and clothes and live on a yacht. or in a hotel. its wrong! wrong i say!

so many people feel like the disney channel equals wholesome and safe but honestly i feel it sells something much more dangerous: materialism and a completely unrealistic "ideal."

alisha said...

oh great post. we're not tv free either. i try not to watch tv during the day, but i loooooove me some vh1 reality at night. i'm also a sucker for judge judy and maury. i hate the disney channel too though. really, my only reason for censoring what my son watches is to avoid being subjected to horrible children's programming. aaaannnd, he's only 2 so there isn't much he should be watching anyway :p

Penny said...

I love TV too, but we do have rules. I would say that since our son was born I watch about 1/4 of the TV I used too, which is good. Really. During the day we try not to turn the TV on and Eli is only allowed to watch a few specific things...Oswald, Blues Clues, Kipper and Yo Gabba Gabba are the favorites. I don't like things that are too gender stereotype-y or too violent (which is really A LOT of stuff). I don't like the Disney Channel either and Eli has never watched it. I like TV and I typically watch whatever I want after Eli goes to bed. Teddy does not like TV and would be fine without having one. We have two, one in the living room and one in the bedroom....I sleep with the TV on EVERY NIGHT. Yeah, I know most people would not like that...

~ The Jolly Bee ~ said...

We're a family of five with three TVs -- two never get used: the one in my bedroom and the one in the basement. Our kitchen / family room TV gets a bit of a work-out, from "The Office" to the news to TWC, with some Disney thrown in. And I was interested to get your take on "Family Guy" and "The Cleveland Show." My kids love those shows, but my husband thinks I'm nuts for letting the kids watch them. It's so true about opening the door to conversations. I have an 11-year old who loves FG, but I've been on the fence with letting him watch it. For now though, he needs to concentrate on his 6th grade school work a bit more and spend less time watching TV and playing with his iPod and laptop. Wish me luck.

Lia said...

We have tv. The kids love it. I used to. My husband does not like it.

We try to limit any sort of "screen" time to an hour a day, but try is being used very loosely here. Basically, when the tv starts annoying us, then we tell them to turn it off, but we don't let them watch tv all day either. Although, it's not like they aren't watching all day when it's rainy or they're sick.

I used to watch a lot of tv and I tried to keep up with a lot of shows. And then for one reason or another, I got so far behind on my main shows, that I just gave up on that season. I thought I would catch up that summer, but never did. And I never really went back either. I have such little time at home that I don't want to feel like I have to spend it watching a show, just so that I don't get too far behind.

My husband works two nights a week, and the kids and I tend to watch more tv on those nights. But mostly we like to watch any and every cooking challenge on the Food Network or Myth Busters. We like So You Think You Can Dance a lot, too.

The kids watch tv pretty freely. I don't feel much of a need to monitor them. On weekends, they know when adult swim starts, it's time to turn off the tv. They aren't really interested in anything that would be too inappropriate. Mine do watch all three kid channels including Disney and I couldn't care less. Yes, some of the shows are annoying, but I also think some of them are quite funny. Guess I'm a dumbass, but I like iCarly and Wizards of Waverly Place. And even Hannah Montana is better than some shit like Fairly Odd Parents. I'd way rather half-way listen to a show with real kids with normal voices, than a cartoon with whack voices that are yelling most of the time. And most of those shows just sort of remind of shows from when I was a kid, like the Facts of Life and Silver Spoons.

Lia said...

And I don't think the Disney Channel is "wholesome" either. I just don't give a rat's ass and there are a lot of cartoons that bug me a lot more.

Margaret (Peggy or Peg too) said...

I come from a different place not having children.

Allow me to start with Disney and Nick. I see these all too frequently with my neices & nephews. Most that are not cartoons make me angry because they are bratty kids.I don't get it. And like Tammie I would prefer adult material to explain and discuss than bratty behavior. Which I have done with my N&N and sometimes that doesn't make my sisters happy. I do not understand how violence is okay but not death or sexual content.
(ex: my sister had a fit that I let her son watch My Girl because the little boy died. but she allows him to watch the most violent of films)

The 1st year American Idol was on my 12 yr niece was spending a couple of weeks with us. We realized that we didn't watch much that wasn't adult. I had read about this American Idol and thought this was something we could watch as a family. And we did and it was fun all 3 of us giving our comments. We tease her to this day about her comment of "not feeling the love" for Justins hair. I would never have tuned in the 1st time had it not been for my niece. Of course now I watch it all the time.

I have 3 tv's, 1 in HD all with DVR's. Could not live without the DVR's especially. My hubby and I love TV and are not ashamed. We have a neighobr with a 52" TV in his family room and he is always saying in a snarky tone like he is superior, Oh we don't watch tv except for a few things on PBS or news. Yea, right and you need a 52" HD flat screen for that. It makes us laugh.

And when my father visits I block channels as well and he is 80. I block all Fox "news" and EWTN. (catholic channel) He thinks we have terrible satellite service here and told me i should complain. ....tee hee

Tammie said...

penny: i love all of elis favorite shows. kipper was a favorite when both of my kids were smaller. i loved how quiet that show was.

i dont leave the tv on at night, but i do need to have something humorous on to fall asleep to. i cant fall asleep watching a crime drama.

jolly: i feel the same way. my son is 11 also and i dont really have any hard and fast rules for him but if his grades start slipping or i notice behaviour issues, im certainly not afraid to start taking things away.

lia: i completely understand. the "i dont give a rats ass" feeling was what i initially felt when i let my daughter watch South Park, so definitely no judgements here!

and there have been times ive snickered at iCarly, im just sick of it. the other day i walked in on my son reciting the show word for word along with the actors. i had to put my foot down.

and i disagree with you: Hannah Montanas voice is just as annoying as Cosmo and Wanda's from the Oddparents. HA!

Tammie said...

and i totally wish silver spoons was still on.

Tammie said...

Peggy: HA! i nearly fell out of my seat. with my old cable company, EWTN was right by Fox News and i blocked them both also.

and you mentioned something that bugs me as well: when people allow violence but no sexual content. obviously every kid is different and it certainly isnt my place to tell other people when to discuss stuff with their kids, but the average person is going to have to deal with sexual stuff before they ever (if at all) have to deal with violence or murder, so why not talk about it?

and i agree with your niece, i was never feeling justins hair either.

IGEMOM said...

I miss OLD TV. Like Saturday morning cartoons when we were kids. What happened to Mr. T and He-Man and Shera? I don't get the crappy cartoons that are on today. Although, my son loves Chowder and Flapjack, and I've been known to watch episodes of those....I miss Webster...and Facts of Life...and I do have the guilty pleasure of once in a while indulging in a little early morning Saved By The Bell...speaking of fake characters!!

Penny said...

I definitely agree about sexual content. I think being sexual is normal and healthy (to a point obviously and dependent on age)whereas being violent is not, but YET I have seen/heard many parents allow violent TV shows and cartons but yet won't let children watch certain shows due to sexuality. This makes me nuts!

Barefoot_Mommy said...

We have three tv's in our house. I monitor what B watches but only to a certain extent.

We don't let her watch South Park because she repeats things... especially if we think they are funny.

I don't care for disney channel shows in the afternoons, but I do love some of their little kids shows. Charlie and Lola is an absolute favorite. I think they are adorable... but they only come on really early in the morning.

We love spongebob here too. And family guy. And law and order. Oh law and order... I am a slave. And Bones which comes on in the eveings. I probably shouldn't watch that with the B around since she actually asked me if we could watch "The Show with the dead people" the other day... but it doesn't have any bad language or high sexual content... or even very much violence. It's more just forensics and mystery.

It has affected her though... when I was preggers she was completely intrigued by the whole blood drawing process and the nurse had to ask her to move over. And she doesn't really seem to mind shots either. She just finds them interesting. LOL

Anyway, completely off track now. 3tv's. 2 with cable, one in the livng room and one in our room. One without cable in the kids room so that B can watch a movie when getting ready for bed.

Carla said...

We have two tv's and I do enjoy it for my down town in the evenings. My husband couldn't live without it because of his love of sports. Sadly, my two year old is into a Canadian channel called Tree House - WE CAN'T STAND IT!!!

Mari said...

Oh my god, tv addict here! I blame the industry that pays for this house, ha ha.
I watched 16 candles for the gazillionth time today while I was cleaning and cooking. Tonight I also watched Elizabeth again ( I love Cate Blanchett). My kids are internet geeks, much more of a problem than their occasional tv viewing. My current fave shows are 30 rock, Eastwick, Big Love, Parks and Recreation, Family Guy. To my husband's dismay, I will sometimes watch an episode of Kardashians or Kendra- now my dirty little secret is out!

DysFUNctional Mom said...

We have several TVs, but no cable. We only have an antenna hooked up to the TV in the living room. I could easily live the rest of my life with no cable, but John thinks he's dying without it, so we're getting it back in January. I think my kids do an excellent job of finding other things to do besides watching garbage.

Tammie said...

igemom:i miss the old shows too. but i had to laugh at Saved by the bell. ugh. the worst!
and Chowder and Flapjack are popular around here too, although i dont really get them.

penny: its definitely something i dont fully understand. my son has friends whos parents strictly monitor what they watch on TV yet the boys are allowed to play very graphic, very violent video games.

barefoot: the disney channel cartoons dont bother me as much as the afternoon shows. I love charlie and lola, i wish my daughter would watch it.

mari: ive been caught watching The Kardashians a few times too. its always sorta embarrassing.

sitting on the mood swing at the playground said...

We have two TVs. One wasn't working for about six months and that was fine. I think often the TV is on for background noise but I do like Christopher Meloni...I mean Law & Order SVU and often I can get stuck on the Food Network until I'm jarred into reality and realize those meals aren't being made in my kitchen.

Not Your Aunt B said...

I think I'm the loser of the group. Boo hoo.

We only have one, sad, old tv. It would need a converter box if we didn't have cable, which we do, but it's just basic. The girls are allowed 1 half hour show a day IF they are good. They usually watch Dora, Yo Gabba Gabba, Handy Manny, or Word World. It's what they like and I don't have a problem with it other than Dora is a little loud with all the yelling. I will have to check out Kipper. We don't watch a lot of tv if it isn't football season. We do DVR a lot and then watch episodes back-to-back in marathon sessions of tv watching. On a weekly basis though I maybe watch 1 or 2 shows. We're just busy to be honest. And when I get home from work, I want quiet as the ER is loud and chaotic.

I miss OLD tv too. And you should be able to hear my eyes rolling from here in regards to parents who are ok with violence and not ok with the sexual content. Yeah. I'll be seeing them in the ER when their kid is complaining of some itch or funk down there or getting the $500 pregnancy test.

Mothering Two said...

LOVE this post. We are a TV loving family, too, with pretty much the exact same boundaries with it as you. No portables and no TV in the car. Yeah, we travel without it. Our TV is on right now and Max is watching as Bella does her own thing, playing. I have a list of favorite TV shows, in fact, I think I may do a TV calendar just for shits and giggles. I love TV, too.