I still remember getting my very first TV set for my own bedroom. I think I was 11. I was so pleased I didn't mind that one of the grand total of three available channels (showing my age there...) was only coming through in Welsh (despite the fact we were a good 50 miles from Wales). Nor did I care that I had to faff about tuning it in with a funny little set-top aerial to switch channels. Even then, the picture was pretty hazy. But this supposedly portable set (it weighed half a ton) was mine, all mine and crucially, I could watch whatever I wanted, whenever I wanted.
And that last point is exactly why I won't be getting my seven-year-old a TV in his bedroom - or a tablet or laptop with TV access on - for a few years yet.
I don't want him watching whatever he wants, whenever he wants.
Whilst my own bedroom viewing only got as racy as Benny Hill or Barbara Windsor not actually even showing her boobs in a scene in Carry on Camping, there seems to be an awful lot more on our screens now that I'd rather he didn't see at all, or at least I'd like to be around to explain what's going on if he does watch something inappropriate.
Plenty of research shows that whilst TV in general can have its benefits in appropriate amounts, TVs in bedrooms are not good for children and are associated with poorer levels of educational attainment and higher levels of obesity.
Like me, most of the parents I spoke to about this were concerned about not being able to keep an eye on what and when the children are watching TV/using a computer if they're shut away in their rooms.
"If they have a TV in their rooms, they WILL watch it after bedtime and I will have no control over what they watch. It's not going to happen until they are MUCH older." said Sophie, mother of two boys, nine and six.
Melanie, who has a son of seven and two older step-children, blocked her children's requests for a set as she didn't want the family sitting separately: "We apply this to ourselves too - we don't have a TV in our bedroom either. There's just the one TV, in the living room, so we all have to learn to watch what other people like too but we're all watching it together. Not having everyone in their own rooms, separate from one another."
Of the parents I encountered who do let their children have a TV of their own, many aren't giving them free rein and have found a sensible middle ground.
Suzanne, mum of a nine-year-old daughter and seven-year-old son, explains: "Both the TVs in their rooms only receive the old analogue signal, so they can only watch DVDs and there's no TV picture, it wouldn't even cross their minds to watch/play games consoles/DVD after bedtime as they both know that bed is bed and as yet have never had this experience of them sneakily putting them on."
Another mum, Sam, also has clever ways of ensuring her daughters don't watch too much: "We turn the TV off at the wall and neither of them can reach the switch! The TV and the switch are mounted high up. The main watching time is in bed on a Saturday morning, or sometimes if one of them is tired after school, she'll ask if she can watch TV in her room for a bit. But they're usually both so busy doing all their out of school stuff that they don't watch a lot. One of my daughters found it handy last Friday when she had her first friend for a sleepover and they watched Harry Potter though!"
That sounds pretty harmless to me but all the same, I'm sticking with us all watching downstairs or not at all for a few years yet.
Do you let your child have a TV or computer with TV services in their room? At what age?
How do you keep an eye on what they watch?
More:Advice And Health
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