The Great TV Hypocrisy: Realizing My Kids Don’t Watch Primetime

Posted May 1st, 2013 by Sandie in Entertainment, Parenting, Teens & Tweens, Television

When I was a girl, I watched a LOT of television. I would say that it was a bad thing, but I still managed to graduate near the top of my class, read a ton of books, go to youth group, have friends, and even do my chores. I wasn’t an athlete, but I don’t think that had so much to do with my TV watching as my general clumsiness, not to mention my mom’s misguided belief that only boys and tomboys should play sports. In any case, I remember watching primetime dramas like “Moonlighting,” “L.A. Law” and “St. Elsewhere” as a kid (and can even hum the theme songs to prove it).


Looking  up the years those shows were on the air, I was 9, 10, and 6, respectively. That doesn’t mean I was SIX when I started watching them, but I was definitely in elementary school. Flash forward to my life a mother and entertainment writer, and I realize that I’m a huge hypocrite. My 11-year-old son barely watches any scripted television that’s not on one of the “kid” channels like Nickelodeon or Disney. And even those he’s not a big fan of, so he tends to stream “Mythbusters,” “How It’s Made,” and a bunch of Discovery and PBS documentaries on Netflix or Hulu. My daughter, who’s 8, claims her friends watch “Glee” and “Modern Family,” but I’ve yet to let her watch more than the occasional YouTube clip of a dance from “Dancing with the Stars” or a “Glee” mashup. OK, and occasionally we watch “Say Yes to the Dress” if it’s On Demand.

Part of the issue is that families no longer watch television together the way they used to, particularly live. Probably the only show I watch live these days is “Game of Thrones” which is an ADULT show. My husband and I watch it together every Sunday night. Otherwise, we wait until something’s on the DVR. You would think that would make it *easier* to let my kids, especially my oldest (the youngest is five and has no business watching anything but children’s programming, in my opinion) watch a “real” show, but he hasn’t asked, and I haven’t offered.

So my question to those of you with teens and tweens is, what do you watch with your children? Is it all reality shows? Do you watch any sitcoms or (eek!) dramas together? I’d really love to know, because on the one hand I think it would be fun to have my soon-to-be middle schooler “graduate” from kid shows and nature documentaries, but on the other hand, I figure he isn’t really missing out!

The Editor of The DC Moms, Sandie blogs about Young Adult literature at Teen Lit Rocks and reviews movies and books at Common Sense Media.



4 Responses to “The Great TV Hypocrisy: Realizing My Kids Don’t Watch Primetime”

  1. Delora

    Same situation in our house. The few prime time shows we’d let our 12yo watch, he has no interest in. Instead, he watches a lot of Disney and Nick, though has sadly lost interest in the “educational” shows we used to enjoy together (Mythbusters, Build it Bigger, Top Gear). Most of our family TV viewing is repeats of shows his father and I have already seen on netflix, such as Psych, Eureka, and Dr. Who. We’re glad he enjoys these, but it isn’t original programming for us since he’s several seasons behind us at this point. We also won’t let him watch without us since he’d have 8 episode marathons given his choice.

    • Sandie

      Sounds like a smart idea — I monitor the Netflix queue watching like a hawk! I don’t mind watching Discovery/nature shows without me, but scripted television is something else altogether.

  2. Dawn

    Yup, I can totally relate to this. I remember watching Three’s Company and All in the Family, and I was in the early years of elementary school! Our oldest is almost 13, and he doesn’t watch any primetime stuff at all. Like you, my husband and I watch shows on our DVR, and we’ve been talking about what we might share with him. Modern Family is the one that we think we’ll start with. He wants to watch The Big Bang Theory, but almost every episode has some significant sexual humor that I just don’t think is appropriate… and it would certainly diminish my enjoyment of these shows if I have to worry about the appropriateness of it for him!

    • Sandie

      Exactly! But we don’t watch TV in the same way at all anymore, so it’s just not comparable. I will say that my sister even struggles with the sexual humor/banter on The Big Bang Theory, and her son is 15!!! I agree about Modern Family. Now what to do about the younger kids if he’s watching that!