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I am all about freedom of choice, with one exception: I am the TV Nazi in my house.

According to a 2013 report from Nickelodeon to its advertisers, children today are watching 35 hours of television a week! That’s like a full-time job. Heck, if TV watching was a job, these kids would qualify for Obamacare and a 401k employer match.

My first born didn’t watch TV for the first two years of his life. Today, he watches about 3 hours a week. The kids have access to the one TV in our home, for 1 movie a week with their grandpa, and two cartoons geared towards education, such as Leap Frog, Super Why, or a nature documentary. In addition to that, we probably watch about 30 minutes of YouTube videos, either educational videos or pranks in any given week. Sorry, but we just love watching a good prank – especially the Scary Snowman.

I’ve actively denied them TV and will continue to do so. As an anarchist-libertarian dad, I want to encourage freedom, the ability to think for yourself, and to help my kids pursue their passions. Nevertheless, I wouldn’t allow an elderly person with Alzheimer’s to enter a busy street alone, or a friend who is brain damaged to get behind the wheel of a car. As a father, I have to step in when it comes to my children and television.

As mentioned earlier, most kids today are watching 35 hours of TV per week, and according to Nickelodeon, this is in addition to 10 hours of content on smartphones/tablets! Sadly, 80% of the children in the study said they wanted to spend more time with their parents.

My personal experience with children I’ve seen grow up, is that too much TV limits conversation and their ability to speak well. This is totally my opinion and I have no scientific study to site; however, it is common medical knowledge that brain development during the first 2 years is critical to humans. Exploring, physical movement, and interaction with mom and dad are very important to a child’s life.

The negative effects of TV are obvious. Every day, I see kids obsessively staring at their devices, completely ignoring parents and the world around them. Last week, my daughter had a dance recital. I’ve never seen so many fat children. I’m sorry, but obesity would be putting it nicely – these kids were severely overweight by dozens of pounds. Even “Little Mermaid Ariel,” the star of the show, was embarrassingly overweight.

There is a significant opportunity cost when children watch too much TV, much like in economics or investing. If children are watching 5 hours of TV a day, what are they NOT doing? One thing they’re not doing is playing, which is a great way to learn and interact with other children and strengthen the imagination. This is along with sports, learning, talking to parents, or a thousand more fruitful and rewarding activities.

Moreover, according to research done by the University of Washington, TV violence can cause anxiety and depression; or worse, in my opinion, add to consumer slave conditioning. Think of the advertisements and different agendas some of the cartoons have these days.

Unfortunately, TV and iDevices have become pacifiers for older kids, and I totally get it. I used to look down on parents who had children staring at a device during a restaurant meal, but with a 1, 3, and 5 year old, I’ve done it too. When the kids are acting crazy and we’re still waiting for the salad to show up, I will also bust out my iPhone and switch to a Bible story or Hooked on Phonics app. Usually it’s a last resort – I never sit down with the intent to offer that up, but if the kids are getting a little too loud, or they look prepared to take an uninvited self-guided tour of the kitchen, I’ll brake out some digital entertainment.

Everything is fine in moderation, right? Well, when we consider TV and portable devices are 45 hours a week for children, I think we should all set our own boundaries on what moderation actually means. Even cutting that statistic in half still seems to be way too much TV, in my opinion.

Regardless of our children’s passions, speaking, reading, and writing well will help them in every aspect of life. In contrast TV, in my opinion, is worse than just not doing more of those activities, it’s a counter force. Watching TV encourages one NOT to think, not to speak, and is probably an equal contributor to obesity in children as is the over-consumption of processed foods.

Looking at the baby boomers, millennials, and now the millennials’ children (kids born after 2005), we seem to be on an obvious downward slope. As with most things in life, it’s not too late to stop it.


See my recent, related post: Rules for Not Being a Smartphone Zombie.

– Daniel Ameduri aka The Dissident Dad

For more info see this author’s bio.