Media in the Bedroom

Bored in Vernalmedia 15 Comments

Beginning as far back as March 2001, the Church has advised members not to locate their computers in a bedroom. William C. Porter, in the “I Have a Question” section of the Ensign and then again in April Conference suggested that “parents need to make online use a family, not a private, activity. Put the computer in a room that the whole family uses, not in a child’s bedroom.” Right now our computers are located (1) in the kitchen alcove, and (2) in the parents’ bedroom (which is actually more of a public area than our living room!) We have found it interesting to make computer use a family activity. One evening we were all lying on the couch when my third daughter was IM’ing a friend. This Aaronic priesthood holder was making some suggestive comments to the laughter of our entire family. Little did he know that DD’s parents and sisters were reading every word he wrote. I have allowed my children to participate in myspace and facebook, as long as they add me to their site. I’ve never censored them, but they know that I can read the things that they and their friends say to each other.

The American Academy of Pediatrics has recommended that parents remove television sets from their children’s bedrooms. A study conducted by the University of Minnesota School of Public Health found that

“…older adolescents who have a bedroom television are less likely to engage in healthy activities such as exercising, eating fruits or vegetables, and enjoying family meals. They also consumed larger quantities of sweetened beverages and fast food, were categorized as heavy TV watchers, and read or studied less than teens without TVs in their bedrooms.”

I am very opposed to TV in bedrooms, but then again, I am also opposed to food in bedrooms! Back when I turned 16, my parents allowed me to put a stereo in my bedroom. With the addition of this form of media, I spent much more time indoors, alone in my room listening to music, and less time exercising, studying, or socializing.

Do any of the bedrooms in your home contain computers, TVs, DVD players, or other forms of media players? Have you noticed any positive or negative effects from this situation? How do you make computer and TV viewing family activities?

Comments 15

  1. I don’t even like tvs in the house at all. I reject them for aesthetic reasons, not moral ones. I quit watching tv in the 80s and I enjoy my life so much more now. Even having to be around tvs playing in restaurants, doctors offices, etc. is quite grating to me.

    When I was growing up, our family had one stereo in the living room. We all shared each other’s music, and as a consequence the kids ended up liking Bach, Stravinsky, Khachaturian, etc. and the parents gradually came to enjoy the kids’ music as well. It was tough to endure some of the horrible stuff my little brother played, I remember, but almost always I would end up getting what he saw in it, what was so good about it, and liking it too. It’s a huge benefit to everyone that they get such an opportunity to broaden their tastes. I think it was a great thing having only one stereo.

    Of course today we all have mp3 players. They’re so convenient and enriching, allowing us to listen to podcasts, books on tape, and great music in times and places where we wouldn’t have had anything at all otherwise. If you have to be in the doctor’s office for two hours, it makes a great improvement to be able to enjoy listening to something awesome instead of slowly losing patience and fuming the whole time. I can’t possibly see giving up our mp3 players. But they’re inherently private. That’s a real disadvantage.

    I suppose it’s better for computers to be public as well, and for us to share a computer. Computers seem as personal as toothbrushes or underwear to me, though. It’s been weird sharing with my son since I adopted him. I keep thinking I should get him his own. Maybe you’re right that I shouldn’t, though. Our computer is in a public area, but we use it at times when the other is asleep, helping to generate more privacy. I do trust my son, and I don’t think it’s gentlemanly to spy on what he says or does online. But I remember how nice the family stereo was when I was young, and how much good it did for all of us. Maybe computers are the same way?

  2. Generally I am opposed to TVs in bedrooms also. My recently returned missionary son, however, has just turned this on its head a little bit. His grandfather gave him a treadmill. He has a portable DVD player that he has now built a little stand for on the treadmill, and watches hour-long sci-fi programs while walking on the treadmill. He prefers walking and watching to sitting in the family room on the couch watching (or riding the stationary bike in the family room and watching TV).

    So, my son actually gets MORE exercise because of a portable DVD player in his room. That’s probably outside the norm.

  3. Haha Andrew I have actually thought of doing that, except hook the family TV up to a treadmill so the TV won’t work unless someone is powering it. 🙂

    My son is only 1 1/2, but I’m never going to put a TV in his room. Plus my wife barely likes TV in the living room, so there you go. As for the internet, just putting it in a public place doesn’t necessarily solve everything, because there will always be times at a friend’s house and etc.

  4. We don’t have internet in the bedrooms (although the Wii has internet capability and is sometimes in the bedrooms) and our kids’ cells don’t have internet/data plans. The rule of no internet in the bedrooms is known by all in our house, and my oldest son is a much bigger enforcer than either my husband or I (also a bigger prude–for which I am grateful). We do have TVs (with DIRECTV) & DVD players in every bedroom, plus TiVO in oldest son’s. We use parental locks based on rating (nothing over PG/PG-13, depending on age). Mostly the kids like to play video games on the TVs. Watching actual shows is usually done in the living room. Sometimes they watch a movie for a sleepover. Generally speaking, we watch something with them in the living room before we decide to let them watch it alone upstairs.

  5. The family computer is in a small landing area at the top of the stairs. My work laptop is usually in my office. We have a family TV in the living room and an older, smaller TV in the open-air loft that the kids use. We have to enforce time limits on the TV and computer (they play games on sites like Nick Jr. and PBS Kids) or else they would do nothing all day but one of those two things.

    Although the TV is in an open area, we’ve even had issues with the kids sneaking peeks at banned shows or channels. For example, my wife won’t let the kids watch Fairly Odd Parents anymore because the characters constantly insult each other and use rude words we are trying delay the inevitable adoption of. Yet, even our 4-year-old has been caught watching it with the sound turned down and then whispering to his sister not to turn it up or else they’ll get caught. Its so hilarious how kids think their parents don’t know what’s going on. (I just got an idea for a fun post. Sticky note time.)

  6. We love Fairly Odd Parents! But we are pretty permissive. I guess my view is the more restrictions you place, the more rebellion you reap, and there are plenty of restrictions without adding a bunch more.

  7. Actually had a friend growing up who had to pedal to generate power for the TV. He liked to invite friends over for Saturday morning cartoons so there were other kids to share in the generation.

  8. “and our kids’ cells” — interesting word …

    We have one television that gets channels, and one for DDR, which is seems everyone outgrew. The computers are in public places, keeps us from getting as isolated.

    Well said.

  9. We have kept the TV’s out of the bedrooms, except for the master bedroom but the computers are/have/must be in the bedrooms. We have 5 computers at the house. Each of the teen age girls have a laptop in their rooms with no restrictions. The idea of having 1 computer in a public area is kind of a old concept. My teen girls have 2-3 hours each night that is mostly computer related. If they are nose down in a book, often the check out references as they study. Then papers have to be written. I have work to do, my wife has work. There is NO WAY we could function with 1 computer, in one public place. Even 5 computers in 1 public place would be a nightmare.

    I often wonder when we hear council from our leaders, if they have really thought through the implications of what they are asking. The guilt they create. It has felt so good to finally be able to say “Yeah, yeah yeh”


  10. Our computers are in the office. I have one for work, Jeremy has one for work and then there is one for the family. There is always someone in the office working or playing on the computers. The computer for the kids also can be used as a TV. We also have a TV in the family room and one in our bedroom.

    We just let our son get an account on My Space, but he had to give us the password so we could access it any time we want to. He doesn’t seem to mind yet, but he is still a young teenager.

    We seem to be pretty permissive too as far as what the kids can watch. Spongebob doesn’t bother me as much as it does some parents, but my children have never really picked up any bad behavior from the shows they watch. The cartoon network was banned because they have some really bad cartoons, but like hawkgrrrl said, if I give them a little bit of room they don’t seem to feel the need to rebel as much.

  11. Laptops in our house-too much use for us to form an orderly queue.My 24 yr old has had hers in her room for 10 years now,mostly a practical decision,no other space,but she has always known that it had therefore become a family space.I think we have to realise our children will experience many things which we would rather they did not-as far as is humanly possible we need to be their allies in this,not their judges.I’m hoping we are working towards eternity as a family project,and that we can consult with each other on this.I recently was uncomfortable about some language being used by a friend of my 12 yr old son’s in an e mail-actually I was horrified and had to rein in my own reactions in order to be able to speak to my son in a manner which would not elicit defensiveness-I was so glad I was able to do so as he expressed regret at my distress and told me that he and his friends had been trying to get this lad to modify his language.

  12. We have our computer in the most public area in our house right next to the kitchen. We have two televisions, both in public areas. We rarely have a television in a bedroom unless someone is seriously ill.

    The main reasons we have the computer in a public place is a concern for pornography. When I was a young man, we could find pornography in seedy little stores. It would require a deliberate trip to places that were somewhat scary and certainly out of the way. These stores are now out of business because we can all easily access pornography in the privacy of our own homes. The difference between being on a church site and a porno site is just a click of a mouse.

    I think for teenage boys, putting a computer in their room with internet access and expecting them to not look at some at porno sites would be as unreasonable as placing a stack of girly magazines in their rooms and telling them not to look at them. I doubt I could resist such temptation and I am a aging high priest and an early morning seminary teacher.

    I know that my teenagers can and some have viewed R rated movies and naughty internet sites at friend’s houses. I cannot and would not constantly monitor their activities to enforce our standards. I am not my children’s policeman or jailor. We all have lapses and difficult decisions to make. At some point my children have to chose the standards that they will follow. Nevertheless, I can them minimized the temptations that they must face, at least in my home.

    As for passwords and monitoring email and instant messaging, I depend on my children to teach me how to use these sites. But again, I am not my children’s jailor nor in an adversarial relationship with them. We are fellow travelers seeking to keep the commandments and to stay close to the Lord. They help me and I help them.

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