Our Kids

Why I Say No To Educational Television

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Before I begin: You are not an evil parent if you let your kids watch tv. This is simply my take on things. 

My daughter bounces out of bed, throws her diaper in the trash, plops herself down on the living room floor and begins flipping through a book. I finally drag my half sleeping self out into the living room to see her little mind already absorbed in the pages.

We are getting ready to head to the pool. I walk out of the bedroom to find my son wearing his shark fin life jacket, his feet dangling off the couch, flipping through his favorite lift-the-flap board book, “Who is Hiding Under the Sea.”

This is how I find my two toddlers at least five other times a day. We read–all the time. There is no noise blaring in the background, no “Wiggles” dancing to make you cringe. It is quiet, peaceful, as I watch their little eyes take in the pictures, as I listen to their little voices babbling their own made up words. They sit and explore the pages–forever–until finally bringing me over to read the stories to them, ending only when my throat grows sore.

There are many little ways to enlarge your child’s world. Love of books is the best of all. ~Jacqueline Kennedy 

We have one television to our name. It is in the master bedroom. We turn it on every once in a while for a special movie night. We have an iPad, somewhere. I don’t really remember where we put it. We don’t do educational apps. We don’t do educational shows. We do educational living, using our two hands to explore the world around us, learning how to experience the wonders of life with all five of our senses.

We are probably extreme, but my extreme kids extremely love to read. They are “colonial” perhaps, but just like in the colonial days, they find pure joy in using their own minds to play and imagine.

The world is right there at their fingertips, waiting with the the endless possibilities they choose to take it that day.

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According to the American Academy of Pediatrics,”Television and other entertainment media should be avoided for infants and children under age 2.”

90% of a child’s brain is developed in the first five years of life (see source here).

Technology is not a bad thing, but too much can take away from some other really, really good things. Talk to your librarians, to your child’s teachers. Research this yourself. I did not come to my conclusion by some crazy whim. The consensus agrees with me: Read more, explore more, allow your children to experience life with their own two hands.

Let them go outside, get really dirty. Fall down, scrape their knee, cry. Build a fort, a snowman, a memory. And then when they are done, let them do it all over again. A child’s life is meant to be full of exploration, of trial and error, of excitement and wonder.

And this is why we choose not to do educational television in our home. It is why we spend the nights old school with books in hand.

This way is messier and it takes more work, but this way is forever worth it.

“You may have tangible wealth untold; caskets of jewels and coffers of gold. Richer than I you can never be. I had a mother who read to me.”—Strickland Gillian

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24 thoughts on “Why I Say No To Educational Television

  1. Sasha, you’re my hero. Most of those ‘educational’ shows and apps really aren’t all that educational anyway. There is nothing better than reading a good book. People always think I’m crazy because we only have one TV in our house, but I Hate television for the most part, so I don’t see any reason to clutter up my house with them.

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    1. I feel the same as you completely! I was actually just talking to my librarian about the apps and her words are what really inspired me to write this! She was emphasizing how crucial it is for our kids to explore the world with all five of their senses. So glad you also feel this way!!

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  2. Love it, Sasha! Around here, living on a frayed shoestring has been a blessing in disguise. Reading and creativity are huge here. One TV, no cable, one Wii seldom used most days, no Ipads, school agers who read well above age level and enjoy family board games, a toddler quickly following suit. The benefits are awesome. We honestly get some weird looks but a lot of wistful ones, too! Keep at it, Mama. You are growing them in important ways there.

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  3. Great post! We don’t own a TV and our toddler, on very special and rare occasions, get’s to watch home videos on one of our phones but that’s it in terms of media. I love this line “A child’s life is meant to be full of exploration, of trial and error, of excitement and wonder.” So true and quite impossible in front of a screen.

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  4. Hi Sasha. I like your perspective. We do let our kids watch television but definitely not everyday. They like Daniel Tiger, which is educational but focuses on emotional intelligence and social relationships rather than letters and numbers. Other than that we don’t do much tv. And no apps or devices here either. I’m glad I’m not the only one who doesn’t emphasize technology with my kids.

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    1. Lisa, it is always good to meet a like minded mom!! I really believe we will be so glad we did later on, even if it is sometimes more challenging in the moment.

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  5. I’m so with you. My kids are older and technology is a part of all of our lives but we got to a point where it was ridiculous. We’ve just cut it all back and their inner books worms have been rediscovered (YES!) while the soccer balls and huts outside are also getting a much better workout.

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  6. You bring really good points and I agree with you. I will say this though, that I do let my children watch their favorite educational cartoons, It makes them happy, they enjoy it and I am happy. Everything needs to be done in moderation,so too much television is not a good thing. My children definitely play with each other, read books, draw and do other fun no T.V activities.

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  7. I love this! Our daughter is only 7 months old so we obviously keep her away from all screens and it’s my goal to do so for as long as possible!

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    1. Yes, Sasha, keep her from it as long as possible! There is no doubt she will get plenty of screen time through simply living. It is everywhere. But in your own home you can keep her little mind full of exploration! 🙂

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  8. We kept our daughter away from the television her first year and have only aloud it on occasion since (she is 2.5 now.) What i notice is that the more t.v. she watches, the whinier she gets and she’s less apt to find ways to entertain herself. We haven’t turned on the t.v. all week and she hasn’t asked for it once. Instead she’s playing outside, painting, reading, making up her own games. Television has it’s place on occasion, but I’m not sure it’s doing our kids any favors.

    Thanks for your post!

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    1. Sarah, my husband and I were just talking about this! How watching television actually makes my daughter much more whinier and demanding. Without is she plays for hours on end in complete contentment. I am so glad to find a like minded momma! 🙂

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  9. Your kids sound great and you seem to created a loving, thoughtful creative space for them to grow. My concern is that, despite your disclaimer at the start, there are some things in your post that imply a judgement of others.

    Saying, for example, that one parenting choice is “harder work” can be taken as a criticism to others who make the ‘easier’ choice. Also phrases such as “we don’t do education TV. We do educational living” draw a false dichotomy. I completely agree that TV shouldn’t be the tool that primarily educates our children; God forbid! But I watched quite a lot of TV as a child and I also did drama and singing and read veraciously. My boy is one and will happily sitting flicking through a book on his own. Books are my go-to when he’s getting upset, he just loves sitting being read to! He also likes watching TV, which he does regularly. I think that’s fine, but then I read these posts and I suddenly feel a lurch of guilt! I am absolutely positive that this isn’t your intention, but I wanted to share my experience with you.
    (a much more sarcastic post on TV will follow on my blog!)

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