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I'm Too Lazy to Let My Kids Watch TV

Photograph by Twenty20

I have three little girls, ages 6, 3 and 1, and we are basically a screen-free home.

If we're on a road trip, it's a totally different story. Go ahead, kids, watch "Mickey Mouse Clubhouse" episodes until your brain seeps out your ears!

But at home, my girls almost never get to play on my phone, we watch a single movie as a family once a week on Friday nights, and there is no daily screen time.

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If you've been a parent for five seconds, you've probably heard more than enough about how you shouldn't let your children watch television. Didn't you know it is going to immediately rot their brains, turn them into mindless consumers, and probably be the reason they flunk out of middle school and spend the rest of their lives sweeping gutters?

No 30 minutes of peace while an episode runs is worth two hours of complaining, moping and begging.

To be fair, there is some convincing research about why you shouldn't let your children , especially your very young ones, watch a lot of media, whether that's on a television screen, an iPad or your smartphone.

But none of those are reasons why my children don't want television.

The real reason the screens in our home stay off is because TV has the mysterious ability to turn my children into complete monsters.

Most of the time, they play well together, they have active imaginations (as I'm writing this, my two older girls are chasing a marble around and around the upstairs of our house, pretending it is their baby running away from them), and they can come up with endless games to entertain themselves.

But after one bout with the television (whether it's an educational episode, 30 minutes of computer time or a straight-up movie), they transform from these delightful little munchkins into whining, begging little monsters who can't think of one thing to do except watch more television.

No 30 minutes of peace while an episode runs is worth two hours of complaining, moping and begging that inevitably comes after it, and I can't imagine dealing with that on a daily basis.

Every few months, I think, "It'd be fun to let them watch a little show this afternoon," and then 30 minutes later, I'm cursing myself when they're begging for "just one more" or insisting that there is NOTHING to do at home and everything is just so boring and awful.

(The upside is that screen time is so rare in our home that on the very unusual occasions where I absolutely have to have uninterrupted time to take a work call, I can guarantee that a movie or episode will keep them completely gripped until I'm done. I just have to deal with monsters for the rest of the day).

Basically, I'm just way too lazy to parent television-watching children.

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And I recognize it's possible that one reason my children always complain at the end of a show is because they have such little access to it and that if they watched MORE television, they'd be less worked up when it ends. But I'm not convinced that more television is great for my kids, so for the foreseeable future, we'll stick to our Friday night movie and let the television stay off the rest of the time.

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