Television: A Priceless Learning Tool or a Great Evil?

There have been so much debate over the question of whether television is a priceless learning tool or a great evil.  I don’t know about your television set, but mine, left to its own devices, doesn’t have any real power at all, except an uncanny ability to attract dust.  The only control my television has over my life is that which I grant it.

With my television, I have learned a little and laughed a lot.  I have visited places I never would have seen, and some I wish I never had seen.  I’ve experienced great beauty and incredible stupidity.  But, all at my own bidding.  To my knowledge, no one has ever been abducted and forced at gun-point to watch hour after hour of TV. (Of course, I could be wrong about this.)

The introduction of children into the picture complicates the issue. (Is there any issue it does not complicate?)  The television still does not possess any power of its own, but neither do you have ultimate authority anyways.  From the time those chubby little fingers can reach the television controls, the struggle is on.

My husband and I have tried several different approaches to limiting our children’s TV viewing, and I think we have finally stumbled on something that works for us.  It may work for you too.

First of all, as a family we agreed on a maximum number of hours per week that each family member may spend watching television.  At the beginning of every week, each child receives TV coupons good for the full week’s viewing.  (I found 1/2 hour increments work best)  Then as the children watch television, they turned in the coupons.  When the coupons are gone, no more TV.

As an added incentive not to watch too much TV, each coupon has a cash value.  All coupons still unused at the end of the week may be turned in at that time for the cash.

In one glorious week, my children went from 23 hours a week in near catatonic state to and average of just 10 hours per week, and frequently less than that.  The best part is that I didn’t do anything begging, yelling or threatening.  Suddenly, they feel like the choice is up to them and their time is valuable, so they behave responsible.

Now if they are having ones of “those days” and just want to vegetate in front of the television, I say “Go for it”.  I know the rest of the week they will spend those coupons like little misers.

Written by Christie Despain

Angela DiCicco Notes:

  • Younger children may need to have coupons given daily
  • Coupons could also be cashed for a later bedtime; perhaps the extra time could be spent reading
  • Coupons could be earned by doing chores or being ready on time.
  • Use poker chips for coupons.  Each chip equals 1/2 hour TV time

Taken from Encouragement a publication by Angela DiCicco and Gail Signor


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