Setting Viewing Limits
Laura Steves of Fort Worth, Texas, pays careful attention to the amount of television her two young sons watch and is even more careful about the content of the programming they see. In the morning, 3-year-old Spencer and 13-month-old Cooper are allowed one 30-minute program. "I allow them to watch a public broadcast show while we gather our things to leave for school," she says. "If the program is not age-appropriate for both of them, I put in a Baby Einstein video. Spencer shouts out animals and numbers and colors."
Instead of watching television during their time together, the Steves family prefers a more interactive experience, beginning with dinner preparation. Everyone has a role, with Spencer tearing the lettuce and using his plastic knife and fork to cut the veggies for the salad. Spencer does get to watch a little more TV with his dad while mom is working or putting Cooper to bed, but their focus is clearly on family activities. The whole family might play in the playroom or set up and crawl through mazes made from the large refrigerator-sized boxes that they have saved and stored. During the week, they take a lot of pictures of all the fun things they have done. For a quieter, creative activity, the family prints up the pictures and makes a collage from all the photos.