Could your kids live without TV?

Ellen Currey-Wilson, a former 'telly addict', made the radical decision to cut out all television before she gave birth to her son. She spoke to the iVillage community about her views on children and television viewing

She explained: 'I didn't want my child's life to revolve around television as mine had but it took me several episodes of backsliding before I finally was able to succeed in weaning myself off.'

Ellen is keen to stress that children 'learn best from interacting with others and the world around them'.

She said: 'The less television a child watches at a young age, the easier it gets later on, because you end up with a child who can entertain himself; a focused, imaginative child.'

Feeling left out

Television, like any treat, is not necessarily a problem if viewed in moderation. But how do you manage your children who are used to consuming hours of TV a week?

One iVillage community member, whose screen name is Moss, already restricts television in her household, but was concerned that her daughter wouldn't be able to interact so easily and share references with her friends if TV was banned.

She said: 'If TV and TV characters are so linked to life and school life, is it detrimental to a child's education and social life if he or she can't participate because they have no knowledge of the subject being discussed?'

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Ellen responded: 'I think it's terrific that you've limited television. I do know what you mean though about feeling left out. This is why, even though my son didn't watch television, I bought him a bunch of Disney books so he would know all of the characters. I found a few about television programmes, too.

'Also, I told him that if everyone was watching a particular show, he could, too. Funny, though, he didn't want to watch at that point. I think it was enough to know that he could. So it's worked out fine for us.

'There are so many advantages to being without television or watching just limited amounts. It sounds as though you're not the type to ever get totally addicted, as some kids are, so it doesn't sound like a problem for your family.'

Computer rationing

iVillage community member Merith, who has often contemplated a TV ban in the home, asked where computers fit into the debate.

'I think that computers can have a different purpose than television,' explained Ellen. 'But they don't need computers too soon.

'In primary school, though, kids can learn to do research projects on the computer and start keyboarding, among other things. This is very different from playing mindless computer games. That sort of activity needs to be limited, just as you would limit television.'

Weaning them off

Writergal, an iVillage community member and mother of two, was keen to 'turn off' the TV but was worried about the effects of a sudden blanket ban.

'I think that what might make the transition smoother is planning something fun for the time you usually watch,' suggested Ellen. 'Then they won't notice or mind that they're not watching television at that time. After a week or so, they will have become used to it.'

The Big Turnoff by Ellen Currey-Wilson is published by Fusion Press (£10.99)

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