Is there such a thing as too much TV? Do you think it can affect children’s behaviour?

This is something I have been considering lately, in the wake of some terrible behaviour from my boys and our dealings with it.

Not to dwell on the bad stuff too much (I am trying to be Mrs Positive at the moment – glass half full and all that) but let’s just say my boys have been challenging of late.

Oh sod it – here’s the truth – they have been a bloody pain in the arse! Especially Boy 2. He has decided to live up to his role as the difficult middle child and has spent the last few months pushing his luck. And pushing my buttons! I had initially put this down to jealousy of the baby, and the loss of his own bedroom (see my previous post ‘Overcrowded bedroom’), but since he moved into his new room there has been little improvement.

And together the boys are even worse.  They fight about everything – what to watch on TV, who sits next to the baby in the car, who puts their shoes on first for school, who pushes the pushchair, who gets in the bath first after rugby…I could go on.  The words “I hate him” were sadly becoming commonplace in our house.

So it was time for some drastic action!

Now let me just caveat here – my boys are not complete TV junkies. They go to Beavers/Cubs, play football, play rugby, read books and so on, but since the baby arrived, hands up, they have watched more TV. As I have had less time for them (of course, my time is now split three ways), they have sought solace in awful American teen dramas!

And I think these programmes have a lot to answer for.  ‘Henry Danger’ really is a danger to their sanity. And ‘The Thundermans’ are a pain in the thundering bum! I hadn’t realised until the other day how bad these programmes were. Until I found myself feeding the baby, whilst the older boys watched this trash. Basically each episode is 30 minutes of American brats screeching at each other and using their special powers to be even more bratty. And do you know what? My boys’ bad behaviour was mirroring that of their American counterparts. They were becoming the American brats!

And so on Sunday, at the end of my tether, and after too many crying incidents (me not them – I blame the baby hormones!), the husband and I finally agreed on a plan.

All screens would be banned!

That included TVs, iPods, computers (except for homework) and games consoles. And we deleted all their crap off the Sky + box. So liberating!

The boys were told that if they couldn’t find something to play together, I would happily provide them with handwriting and maths worksheets.  (This is a benefit of being a primary school teacher – I have these things in abundance!)  And whilst I felt confident and bullish about this new plan, I was also dreading hearing the words “I’m bored” every five minutes.

But do you know what? They have totally surprised me. They have become friends again.

This week they have played scrabble, bananagrams, snap, built Lego together, written stories and played hours of hover football, a game a bit like air hockey but on the floor with a motorised football/puck type thing. (I had to bite my tongue and stop myself from banning this game for the sake of my kitchen paintwork, since they were playing so nicely together, but please note, this is not a game I recommend if you care about your architraves!)

And as the week has gone on, I have allowed them the tiniest amount of TV, but on my terms, and with a definite and infinite ban on Henry Flipping Danger and the Thunderbloodymans! I have allowed them this small reward for the positive changes we have seen in them. A little sniff, if you will, of their vice, in order to demonstrate compromise and teach a lesson in moderation.  And to let them know just who is boss!

So here we are, four days in, and already our house feels like a nicer place to live.  I know it is early days, but the signs are good.

I know that this will not be the end of it – they are boys after all, with all their testosterone just waiting to surge – but we have learnt a valuable lesson about the potential impact of TV on our children’s behaviour.

So what do you think?

Do you think there is such a thing as too much TV?


(I would love to hear your thoughts – please leave me a comment below.)