Are We OK Saying Goodbye To Our Kids Innocence?

So, look, before I launch into this topic, I need you to know that I get it.

Really I do.  That big old Rectangular Babysitter lives in our house too.  Admittedly we have felt sorry for her over the years and have actively tried to cut down on the amount that she works.  But when it’s been a crazy day or I just really need to get some work done, you bet your darn self that the Babysitter starts working.

There are just those days, you know?  The days where you might just rip all the hair from your head and so for the sake of everyone, she gets entertaining.  If you have to deal with just one more tantrum you might just lock them in the room and lose the key.  Those kinds of days.  I have them.  You have them.  Don’t lie.  I know you have them too.

Anyway, in case it’s not abundantly clear, the Rectangular Babysitter that I am referring to is the TV of course.

Guys, there were days in “The Dark Days” of our lives that I am sure the TV never even got switched off.  The Dark Days I’m referring to being that time we had a baby and then like three months later, found out we were pregnant with another baby.  And then I was sick the whole pregnancy.  And then we had the baby and they were both crying and needing things from me.  But completely different things.  And I didn’t have a car.  And I was stuck at home.  And it was hard.  Really really hard.  And so to cope, I put on that TV.  I even grew to love those Teletubbies.  Desperate times and all that.

But as the kids got older and we started coping, we stopped having that baby sitter.  There are times now when it’s not switched on at all in the day time.  Till our Friday night movie night that is.

I think the point I’m trying to make here is that I LOVE TV – personally (series addict hello) and for my children.  I have nothing wrong with them winding down to a bit of their favourite series every now and then.  But.  And here’s the big BUT here.

We are pedantic about what they watch.

I’m not joking.  We’re super strict about it.  Here are some of the rules that we enforce:

  • They are not allowed to put the TV on without asking.
  • You will never find the TV tuned to an adult channel.
  • The kids never watch TV completely un-monitored (I’m always hovering in the background)
  • They have strict rules on which channels they are allowed to look at.  In fact if they accidentally change it onto something they know they shouldn’t watch, they scream for me in panic until I come and fix it.
  • If the age limit says PG there’s a good chance that they won’t watch it unless we’ve vetted it first.
  • They will NEVER watch anything PG13 or higher until they are 13 or higher.

Don’t even get me started on the fact that we don’t have tech for our kids or the fact that they will not have a cell phone until like, 50 or something.

(To be clear – they have limited screen time on my Moms tablets that she brings over once in a while.  I understand that children in our day and age will be at a disservice if they are not exposed to tech as well as letting them play in the garden.  I’m trying not to be a complete idiot about it.)

Why?  Why are we so “ridiculous”?

Not because I don’t trust them.  Although, to be fair, there is a bit of that.

No, the reason is that I am invested in protecting my children for as long as I possibly can.  I care about their innocence.  I don’t want them seeing things at 4 or 7 that they cannot unsee.  Our children should not be exposed to these kinds of things.  They are not equipped to deal with it.  Sometimes adults aren’t even equipped to deal with some of the stuff on TV nowadays, how can we expect our toddlers to be able to?!

OK Cindy, we get it, you don’t do it so why not just keep that to yourself and get on with your life?

Well, I asked myself that too and then…

Knox’s new school does home visits and now that I am part of the PTA, I get to hear a bit of feedback (not about individuals at all, just general concerns) about our children’s home environments.  The meeting happened last night which is actually what prompted this post.

The amount of children that not only get to watch TV at their own discretion (which is ALL the time) but HAVE A TV IN THEIR OWN ROOMS is actually shocking.  They have the remote sitting next to their bed and they get to watch whatever they want, whenever they want.  It’s disturbing to me that these children could be watching completely mind raping shows that will change them for life, and their parents probably don’t even know about it.

But why does that concern me?  Well those kids then come to school and impart those things to my children that I have worked so very hard to protect!  And they just think they’re sharing something cool – not even realising the effect that it’s having on them or the person they are telling it to.

I’m just feeling a bit at a loss here.

Are these parents unaware of what their children could be watching without them knowing?  Are they intentionally wanting their kids to grow up before they’re old enough to process what they’re seeing/hearing?  I just don’t understand how this can be something that we’re OK with.

At this point I guess there may be some people reading that do have the TV’s in the bedroom thing going on.  You may even be a bit affronted at what I’ve said here.  I want you to know that I am not attacking you specifically.  I’m just upset with the situation.  But I still want to hear from you.  I have passionately expressed my point of view, I’d love to hear yours.  How do you know what they are watching?

14 thoughts on “Are We OK Saying Goodbye To Our Kids Innocence?

  1. Yay we not alone! Although we took it a step further – we have no TV in the real sense of the word. We do however have a screen and DVD player and recently we subscribed to Netflix (series addict here as well- don’t you just enjoy being able to binge watch!). Our rules are the same- no watching during school week, ALWAYS have to ask, and as it’s DVD or Netflix (which is only in our room), one can control what they watch. Ipad only for special times and must ask first and they know that if I ever find them on it without airplane mode then it is gone forever, and trust me they know me well enough to not cross that line! And won’t even talk about cell phones… Anyway my kids are 6 and 8 and common remarks I get from their school teachers are that they are so fresh and innocent and whatever we are doing, please carry on with it- they love it! Having said that, they are coming back with things they have heard at school and the challenge is to be able to explain things without “adulting” them or creating fear in them.

    • We struggle with the same issue, how to have to inform them without completely destroying them. It’s not easy. But well done you on totally removing the TV! We only had that for about 6 months before we got married and it was rough 😉

  2. Love this! I am exactly the same with my kids. I enforce animal planet and the history channel. They will always ask me to review a movie they want to watch to see if I feel its appropriate. Or if its pg ask me first to check it out. I limit all technology though I must admit they are smarter than me in that respect.
    I also wort about others influencing them but I do what I can to keep them guided on the path I feel is right.

  3. People have all looked at me horrified when I have said our TV is on pretty much all the time in the background. We have made it so it has never been a big deal, and because of that I believe, we have a very healthy balanced kids who loves to do all the things inside and outside. TV isn’t a treat or a “stolen moment” thing, it is just another in a long list of things to do. BUT. We don’t actually have “TV” channels though. Charly doesn’t watch things we haven’t put on and I have recently discovered YouTube Kids which means there are safe parameters in place when I let her watch shows (Barney, Blaze, Peppa Pig and Umizoomi) on my phone (when she wakes up at 5h30 and insists it is morning). We have also never watched one of our shows while she is awake, comedy, romance or thriller, it is unneccessary, she has access to plenty of great educational fun kids shows.

  4. Good points on all your concerns. We do have tv’s in the kids rooms, but we have set the DSTV parental controls to very high. So they are not able to watch ANYTHING not age appropriate.

  5. Whoo girl, I hear you! I am so strict with what R watches which is why I’m glad we got Netflix, so that I know what he’s watching is appropriate. Please don’t get me started on the crap on YouTube, luckily we’ve weaned him off that but my dad is still guilty of giving him free reign on there! The nonsense, I sometimes find him watching!

    But we have mostly the same rules as you. Although R does watch more TV than I would like – I also value my sanity.

  6. Am so glad we don’t have a traditional tv. We watch things on my laptop, and follow fairly similar rules to you. K never watches anything alone, we pick what to watch carefully, movies at weekends…and at any hint of him being uncomfortable off it goes. That said he still gets lots of screen time, we tend to hit up youtube for music, and he likes to play games with one of us. It’s tricky business this parenting gig.

  7. Great post Cindy, 2 thumbs up. As parents we obviously want what’s best for our kids; therefore it’s our responsibility to teach them these important life lessons and to protect them from evil.

    We also have a no-TV rule especially week days. Same as Heidi, our monitor is connected to a hard drive in our bedroom so weekends it’s breakfast in bed watching kiddy programs. We download educational type of programs as we don’t have a TV/DSTV. My kids (2 & 9) are super excited about choosing their own books from the Library. My eldest loves arts n crafts, recipe and DIY related books which keeps her busy so there’s no missing screen time. Reading is so important. Teachers complain that kids don’t read enough and they use short text.

    I’m certain that your message will have a positive impact. There are just way too many dangers out there.

    Stay Blessed

  8. I think we are even stricter than you guys with the content that our kids watch 🙂 We’ve found that even some kids shows espouse values we don’t agree with, for example my husband took “Bob the Builder” off our acceptable list when he watched an episode with our son when Bob and his friends were laughing and making fun of a little old woman who gifted Bob an inedible cake.

    My kids cousins are also walking around singing “Mr Lover Lover” (Shaggy’s “Boombastic”) which shocked me a little because I can’t imagine why 4 year old kids would be singing songs about sex – turns out they picked it up from watching Mr Bean which a lot of kids love.

  9. same here. laptop movies only. chucked out the SABC years ago after a “get yourself tested for STDs ad” flighted in ad break for “Curious George”. I used to frequent DVD store in town, and used to interrogate the clerk about the content of any movie (non cartoon) that I was considering. Shockingly, she told me I’m the only parent who even bothers, it is astounding what “other parents” allow their kids to watch. So scary to think that other parents’ negligence could undo all our efforts.

  10. We watch adult shows like House Hunters International and Storage Wars and Pawn stars with our kids mostly cos we cannot watch Nick JNR with all the repeats ALL the time. We are a wind down in front of the TV family. Ok Cliff and I are while the kids play with their toys and run around and do back bends off the couches. We watch kids tv with them (only age appropriate) and even do National Geographic etc with them too – are those too adult? Seeing a lionness take down a buffalo – perhaps but my kids love those kids of shows.

    That said there is only one TV in our house and we monitor closely what the kids get to watch.

  11. Yes yes yes!! I couldn’t agree more Cindy – we have just had an incident at SJ’s school about this very topic!
    A group of the boys in her class, with older brothers started telling scary stories about zombies and people with no heads after watching a scary movie, unsupervised at home! Not what we want our girls exposed to on the playground x

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