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Have I turned our son into a TV addict?

05 Mar Posted by in Family Life, Technology | 8 comments
Have I turned our son into a TV addict?
If you would have asked me last week, I would have most definitely said yes, my son is a TV addict. (Grandma, plug your ears…or in this case, close your eyes.)

Let me preface this blog with openly admitting that writing this is extremely embarrassing for me.

Our almost 16-month-old was waking up from his naps screaming his head off. Ok, maybe at first it could be attributed to teething, but it was becoming a daily routine after both naps.

The only thing that seemed to calm him quickly was turning on the TV.

That’s when I started to question if maybe he was addicted.

Darn it! I told myself I would never be one of those parents who used TV as a babysitter. I was a Communication major in college, for Pete’s Sake!

This all started with me watching CNN or BBC in the morning. Once I realized he was trying to watch too, I simply changed the channel to Ki.KA (Kinderkanal – Germany’s public television children’s channel).

My daughter unknowingly got me hooked on Ki.KA since this is what she watches while staying with us. There aren’t any commercials; they have educational programming (children’s news, shows with songs, shows with art projects, shows that teach counting, etc.).

I would equate Ki.KA to PBS in the US. But again, no commercials!

I was excited the day I realized I understood the programs in German. Woo-hoo! My German is finally at a child’s level. Plus, I thought it was cute that my son loved the music to the KiKANiNCHEN show; the show itself lasts about four minutes, two of which are all music.YouTube Preview Image

And then the weather turned cold… too cold to spend long periods outside (my son’s cheeks looked like they had wind burn after a short walk), and somehow the time in front of the TV started to become longer.

During college, I can remember having plenty of debates about children and television, whether it causes Attention Deficit Disorder or Autism and I know that not everyone is in favor of children watching TV.

Now I have children of my own 12 years later and the theory and reality have finally collided.

I originally didn’t want to expose my child to TV until he was at least two. So what the heck happened? How did I let a series of minor events turn into watching too much TV?

Maybe I’m weird…ok, I know I am weird, but growing up, I watched TV a lot, even when I was doing homework.

Although this may not be the case for all children, I turned out fine. In fact, I had straight A’s all through Junior High and High School. True story. I was co-valedictorian of a class with around 400 students… or was it 300…or 200? (Oh geez, I’m too old to remember.)

In college, I took a course on children’s television. My dream job was to work at Sesame Street. After having three interviews there, I was politely turned down in favor of their current intern.

Being so fond of children’s television programs, why now do I have such mixed feelings?

Because now I actually have children of my own, and my son isn’t even two year’s old yet.

Lucky for me, the crying fits turned out to be just a change in his daily sleeping pattern. Phew! He used to sleep 30 minutes to an hour and it turns out, now he makes a couple squeaking noises, but isn’t ready to wake up; his naps last 1.5 to 2 hours. Oooops! I was going into his room too early.

Ok, so I haven’t turned him into a TV addict. But it has given me a good reason to reflect on bad habits.

I still don’t think TV should be banned for children. I’ve seen children in our neighborhood who aren’t allowed to watch any TV do some pretty darn weird things… Like when they go to someone else’s house and turn into a complete zombie in front of the television. Very creepy.

However, I am a firm believer of everything in moderation. And I want to reduce the amount of time my son spends in front of the TV. (Talk to me again right before his bed time, a time in which I think it really is impossible to ban TV.)

With the weather warming up, we have already been spending more time outdoors.


Yesterday, he watched Mommy toss a football (I’m really rusty)…





And then I watched him play with the neighbor girl’s baby and stroller.






For expatriates in the same boat and learning German, watching Ki.KA isn’t a bad idea with or without kids. I do think it has some great quality shows.

At 21:00 (9 p.m.), Bernd das Brot (Bernd the Bread) comes on, which signals that no more children’s television is airing for the night and it’s past their bed time.

And after all, why not take advantage of the fact that you are paying for it since every household in Germany is required to pay 17.98€ per month to the Gebühreneinzugszentrale (GEZ) for the public broadcasting it provides? (I literally just had to toggle between two screens over 10 times to make sure I was spelling the GEZ correctly)

Keep a look out for those zombie children who aren’t allowed any TV at home. They might try to eat your brains when finally exposed.


Phew…he turned when I called his name. Not a zombie.

  1. Sarah L03-05-12

    We had 408 in our class at SHS – I only know that because it was on a transcript I’ve just recently looked at (and tossed) showing what your rank was out of 408 students!

    -Sarah L.

    • Mommy03-05-12

      You rock! Thanks, Sarah! Should have gone with my first instinct…but then it’s been so long, I was worried I was making the fish bigger than the truth. LOL

  2. Alison03-06-12

    Lol! I think you’re a good mom :) but the tv thing can get ridiculous… Another fb friend recently posted about how her daughters sleepover took a downward spiral when the girl staying over started to cry because she said she couldn’t go to sleep unless there was a tv in the room and on like at home…

    • Mommy03-06-12

      Ok, that makes me feel better. LOL I think one time a week I have a mommy panic attack and think I’m doing something wrong:-)

  3. Mona03-06-12

    All I want to know is what does “Dibidibida” (sp?) mean?

    • Thomas03-08-12

      At least in german it means nothing in particular. I would not know similar in english, but it is like imitated baby/toddler-talk when they are creative making up own words. I just think its sweet.

  4. Christin03-06-12

    One year later, there were 523 of us…

  5. Jen03-05-13

    Love this post! I am an American living in Switzerland, and + actually credit KiKa with preparing my children for school, since my husband and I do not speak German. To this day, the kids watch 10 minutes of TV when they first wake up. They don’t scream. They learn a little German. I get to drink my coffee. Everyone’s a winner!

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