Parenting And Television Time

I loved this piece by Molly Backes about how to turn your kid into a writer, particularly this admonition: “Let her have long afternoons with absolutely nothing to do. Limit her TV-watching time and her internet-playing time and take away her cell phone. Give her a whole summer of lazy mornings and dreamy afternoons.” And I like Ta-Nehisi’s refrain about parenting and writing that “failure and boredom are underrated forces for good in this world.” One question that interests me though, especially in the world of the Internet as yet another form of media kids can spend their time on, is how much television the parents in the audience let their kids watch.

As I’ve mentioned, I didn’t have a television for much of my childhood. Later, when we did have one, the only shows I watched regularly growing up where Ghostwriter, Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego, and later, Early Edition. And while I don’t necessarily wish that I’d watched a lot more television, I do wish I’d stumbled into, say My So-Called Life when it actually aired. Obviously no medium is inherently evil, but I’d be curious about what y’all think is a good balance between television, books, movies, music, and the Internet. And more importantly, how do you make sure that if your kids are going to watch television, they watch good stuff, not just in terms of making sure they’re not being exposed to things they’re not ready for, but in terms of making sure they’re getting hooked up with good stories?