Why I Won't Ever Let My Kids Have TVs in Their Rooms

Photo: BAMM.tv
Photo: BAMM.tv

Last night we were at the dinner table discussing the possibility of my 6-year-old son moving into his own bedroom. He’s been sharing with his 4-year-old sister since we had our third child last fall. He said, “Yeah, sounds good. As long as I can have a TV in my room…?” He let that statement/question hang in the air and turned to me with a hopeful look in his eye but he knew what was coming. My response: “No, sorry bud, you will never have a TV in your room.” I said never! And I meant it. And I know I won’t cave.

When it comes to parenting, it’s wise not to make grand, sweeping declarations of the things you will and won’t do with your children. I have made such statements — many of them before I even had kids — and found myself eating those words. We all have our ideals and then things get real and life gets hectic and the next thing you know your 6-year-old starts saying this and you let your 4-year-old wear her pajamas to the store. In other words, it isn’t always easy to stick to your guns and parent in the way you always thought you would parent. That said, there are still a few things I feel confident and strongly about and one of them is TVs in my kids’ bedrooms.

Disclaimer: I know plenty of bright, sweet, wonderful kids who have TVs in their rooms. Growing up, I had friends with TVs in their rooms and they all turned out fine. I am not judging those parents. This is not about TV-watching being the root of all evil. This is about my rules in my house for my kids. And, yes, sure, I don’t like constant TV watching and we try to limit it and set boundaries for what’s appropriate, but my kids do watch plenty of television. Plenty! A few months ago it got so bad we had to do a weeklong TV detox.

Maybe that’s why I don’t want one in their bedrooms. Because I think of TV as a privilege, not a right, and if they had constant, behind-closed-doors access to it, I wouldn’t be able to monitor when they were tuning in — and what they were tuning in to. Or maybe it’s because I didn’t have a TV in my room when I was growing up and I generally think my parents did a great job raising my sisters and me. Of course I watched "Family Ties" and "The Cosby Show" (and even "Three's Company") but when I got into bed at night, I read. Books!

Mostly, though, I'm adamant because I’m trying desperately not to get sucked into the screen-time-all-the-time society we’re now living in. My children love running around like lunatics and playing sports and doing art and reading, but if there is a TV or iPad or smartphone making noise somewhere— anywhere — they find it and flock to it. Perhaps that’s some flaw in the way I’ve raised them, but I know this about my kids and I don’t want to put that obstacle right in their face so it’s the last thing they see when they go to sleep and the first thing they see when they wake up.

My husband joked that all of this is going to be a moot point once our kids get older anyway. TVs won’t even exist anymore, everyone will just have their tablets and phones attached to their bodies (more so than now) and probably chips in their heads so they can tune in to "Pit Bulls and Parolees" any time they want. So my little crusade will be a giant waste of time. But until then, I’m laying down the law — and sticking to it.

Do your kids have TVs in their bedrooms? Will they when they’re older? Why or why not?