Turning off the TV and Turning on Kids’ Imaginations



By Sheba Siddiqui @shebasid & online at: www.shebasiddiqui.com

bigstock-Two-boys-watching-underwater-d-19473356A month ago, I decided to ban TV for my kids during the weekdays. I don’t see much benefit in parking them in front of the television and wanted to see if there were any noticeable personality changes.

In my house, we have an inquisitive four year old, an active three year old and a brand spanking new four month old. It’s never quiet. I use the TV as a buffer for when I need to feed the baby, change her diaper, put her down and need some silence or simply to get my kids to shut up for 30 minutes so I can get a little mental peace and quiet. They used to be able to watch 30-60 minutes of TV per day. That amounted to one to two shows including commercials. That’s all over and done with now.
It’s safe to say the house can get pretty chaotic for most of the day. I kept my two older ones out of summer camp and home with me and the newborn all summer so that we could all ‘bond’. So on top of having three kids ages four and under at home, I’ve cut off all screen time.


Many people have called me crazy in the last few months. For keeping them at home with me all summer. For telling my husband repeatedly that I don’t want a nanny. For banning TV, the only thing that can often give me a break around here.Truth is, I’ve never felt more sane in my life. 


It’s not like they’re never allowed to watch television again. They get to watch TV on the weekends but I’ll be honest, the weekends are family time. We are out; swimming, skating at the community centre, at the park, bowling. And when we are home, we play board games or do homework or simply sit in a room together and read. Yes, even my three-year-old brings his favorite truck books, plops down on the carpet and knows it’s time to read as he flips the pages and talks to the trucks.

Family Writer & Columnist

Family Writer & Columnist


In the span of one month, I have noticed a HUGE change in my two little boys. It’s quite amazing actually. Their attention spans, their manners and etiquette and most importantly, their creative play. It took two to three days for them to adjust to life without TV but as soon as they were accustomed to it, we were off and running. I haven’t heard the word “NO!” since the adjustment. Sure, I hear it when I tell Yusuf to eat his cauliflower or Shan to go on the potty, but it’s no longer filled with aggression and they come around to what I’m saying much more quickly.


The please and thank you’s are a mile a minute and the manners are wonderful to see. I’m not sure how this aspect is linked to no TV but it’s almost as though they actually think before saying something now.  Finally, when I am nursing my four-month old or changing her diaper, I hear them in the next room and the games they think of now are far better than the ones they played before.


bigstock-Color-Painted-Child-Hand-6363248Don’t get me wrong, there is still plenty of fighting between the two, but the way they play is…different. They think of the most creative ways to entertain themselves. Imaginary play is a beautiful thing and I attribute their lack of television to each wonderful new dragon and shark filled adventure they take each other on nowadays.

It’s been over 30 days since they last watched TV. Not a very long time but we’ve already gotten to a point where they don’t even ask for it anymore. They’d much rather go into their play room and get lost amidst their imaginations.


I don’t know how long I can keep this up. Forever would be great but in the meantime, I’ll take as long as I can. It’s wonderful to see them come to life without having to threaten to turn off the black box any more.
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  1. YashY

    We’re trying to cut down tv time at our place but totally failing! Living in a condo with both parents working from home means we’re lazy and plop her in front of the tv. TOTALLY our fault – good on you for doing this experiment, clearly I need to jump on this and cut down our 3 hours of tv a day (gulp)

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