President Obama: Turn off the TV on school nights

I have no doubt that TV is an impediment to school success – and that President Obama is absolutely right in insisting that his girls do not watch TV on school nights. I have found that my children’s grades falter when their TV viewing goes up – although we have been watching the Olympics this week. (I am getting tired of figure skating.)

The Obamas enforce a no TV rule for their girls on weeknights, which is harder in this age of constant media.

The Obamas enforce a no TV rule for their girls on weeknights, which is harder in this age of constant media.

A survey commissioned a few years ago by the National Sleep Foundation found that 43 percent of school-age children, 30 percent of preschoolers and 18 percent of toddlers now have televisions in their bedrooms.

As we discussed a few weeks ago, the average young American now spends practically every waking minute — except for the time in school — using a smart phone, computer, television or other electronic device, according to a new study from the Kaiser Family Foundation. Those ages 8 to 18 spend more than seven and a half hours a day with such devices, compared with less than six and a half hours five years ago, when the study was last conducted. And that does not count the hour and a half that youths spend texting, or the half-hour they talk on their cellphones.

Here is the AP story on the Obama TV strategy, which I think more of us — including my household — should emulate.

President Barack Obama, who is spending billions of dollars to overhaul the U.S. public education system, says there’s one sure thing parents can do to help their kids learn, regardless of financial means: Forbid them from watching television on school nights.

Of his own daughters, Malia, 11, and Sasha, 8, Obama told Essence magazine: “The girls don’t watch TV during the week. Period.”

The first thing they do after school is homework. If they haven’t finished by dinnertime, around 6:30 p.m., they pick up where they left off after the meal. And after that, they can read until they hit the sack. Malia’s bedtime is 9 p.m.; Sasha’s lights go out a half hour earlier, he said.

The president discussed his daughters in response to a question about what parents can do to help foster learning.

Obama, who said he hasn’t missed a parent-teacher conference since taking office, said parents can stay in touch with their children’s teachers.

“Very early on, we set expectations for Malia and Sasha in terms of them taking responsibility for their own education,” Obama said. They got alarm clocks at age 4 to begin waking themselves up, making their own beds and getting themselves ready to get to school on time.

“We monitor them. But they are expected to be prepared to learn when they go to school,” he said.

He and first lady Michelle Obama also began reading to their daughters when they were babies, and encouraged them to appreciate education.

“There’s no doubt that Michelle and I have more resources and privileges compared with a lot of parents. We understand that,” he said in the interview, appearing in the magazine’s March issue. “But I don’t care how poor you are — you can turn off the television set during the week.”

Earlier this month, Obama sent Congress a budget proposal for 2011 that seeks an additional $4 billion in spending on education at the same time he has proposed a freeze on most domestic spending. The $787 billion economic stimulus bill enacted shortly after he took office also created a $4.35 billion competitive grant program for states that adopt various education reforms.

58 comments Add your comment

NCLB?

February 17th, 2010
9:58 am

Now that we have been lectured, what is he going to do about NCLB?

jim d

February 17th, 2010
10:01 am

So let me get this straight.

He found an off button on the remote for the tv but can’t find the one to turn off deficit spending thats bankrupting the nation?

Joy in Teaching

February 17th, 2010
10:05 am

No TV during the week is a good start.

However, after watching a Channel 1 story at school with my students on how “Plugged In” the average teenager in, I was horrified at the claims of the story that teenagers spend at least 7 hours a day on line, playing interactive video games, or texting. I thought it was exaggerated so I polled the class in front of me and they ranged anywhere from 2 hours to 10 hours a day.

Maybe I just have a spoiled class. Or maybe they have well meaning parents who are trying to give them every advantage. But I have a feeling if parents not only limited TV but their kids electronic social networking skills, encourage exercise and education, then grades would definately improve.

Joy in Teaching

February 17th, 2010
10:08 am

Oh yeah…my school is on intercession this week. As I can’t afford to go anywhere due to furlough days, I’m at home doing some late winter cleaning. Just pointing that out before someone says “why are these teachers blogging during the school day when they should be teaching.”

JacketFan

February 17th, 2010
10:18 am

To echo the first poster, yeah – blah, blah, blah, rhetoric, blah, blah. Such a non-issue. Presidents have been saying this for decades now (Reagan’s Physical Fitness test, anyone?). Just another distraction/stall/public relations gimmick that doesn’t address anything of any substance. When are we going to see an end to NCLB????

what's right for kids???

February 17th, 2010
10:29 am

If we limited all technology and media to an hour a day, I can assure you that grades would improve. According to an article that I read in _The Week_, students spend an average of 11 hours a day, if one includes that they are multitasking (texting, watching television, chatting on the web, etc.).

Wounded Warrior

February 17th, 2010
10:34 am

After homework, the kids the outside during the afternoon. We have dinner, clean-up, and then maybe an hour of TV. I only have one TV, and one computer (in my room). The kids don’t get onto the internet unless they have a school project, which is monitered. I don’t have a cell phone, so my kids’ don’t have one. I do have a home phone. I am going to have to cut the cable tv, since the cost continues to rise. My kids are making all A’s.

say what?

February 17th, 2010
10:51 am

My kids are limited to no TV during the week unless it is the 6pm news. No video games during the week, but they can play board games or read until bedtime. I push them to outdoors most days before the sun goes down, and they are healthy students who make all A’s. Nothing wrong with removing TV and technology from the kids during the week. No political trickery going on with stating the fact that having a no TV during the week policy does work and it does build family ties.

RJ

February 17th, 2010
11:08 am

I agree with our president. Kids watch entirely too much TV. Some of my students come to school and can’t keep their heads up because they were watching TV past midnight (and this is elementary school). The problem in my home is the computer. My teenager’s AP class assignments are all done on line. They have to listen to online lectures. She has to keep the office door open, however he little brother will rat her out when she’s on Facebook. That is the new obsession. Apparently I’m the ONLY parent that hasn’t paid for internet on her cell phone. Of course I believe that one. She just wants one more way to read Facebook when she’s not allowed on the computer. President Obama’s message seems perfectly logical, but unfortunately many parents will never heed his advice.

Warrior Woman

February 17th, 2010
11:25 am

@ what’s right for kids – If I limited my kids’ media time to 1 hour per day, they couldn’t complete their homework. Nearly every night they have more than an hour of homework that requires use of media, usually internet, but occasionally television.

[...] posted here: President Obama: Turn off the TV on school nights | Get Schooled Posted in School | Tags: absolutely-right, girls, his-girls, not-watch, president, [...]

really, seriously?

February 17th, 2010
11:35 am

wounded warrior, I think what’s right for kids was speaking to extracurricular usage of media – not assignments that include the use of media. There’s a big difference between having to critically evaluate sources and articles on the internet and looking at facebook while you’re texting your friend and playing an on-line game

James

February 17th, 2010
11:41 am

My daughter is 5 years old, and she only has a tv in her room that is connected to a DVD player so she can watch movies in her room with friends. It is not connected to the cable and will never be. I NEVER had a tv in my room growing up. When my daughter is old enough to have a cell phone (maybe junior high age), she won’t have texting on her phone and it will be a prepaid where she can only use her minutes to call us. My daughter does activities involved her letters, numbers, spanish and writing everyday. She watches no more than an hour of television and otherwise we play games. I feel this is the best way to go.

Oh no!

February 17th, 2010
12:04 pm

We are very lucky. Our daughter is a straight A middle school student who does her homework when she gets home without being asked, chooses to read over watching TV much of the time and still likes to hang out with her parents. If she decides she wants to watch TV or be on the family computer during her free time in the evenings, we don’t micro manage her time. We do however limit the types of shows she is watching( i.e. no Tila Tequila and that crap). I am not disagreeing that most kids watch too much TV but I don’t think a complete ban on TV during the week is necessary for all kids. Ours does a really good job budgeting her time as it is and if TV is what will help her relax in the evenings, so be it. I like to watch some TV after a long day at work too.

what's right for kids???

February 17th, 2010
12:05 pm

Thanks, really, seriously.

Dr. Malik el Haj Mohammad

February 17th, 2010
12:08 pm

@ jim d

You stated:

“So let me get this straight. He found an off button on the remote for the tv but can’t find the one to turn off deficit spending thats bankrupting the nation?”

The topic is about kids watching tv not the deficit but I suspect that whatever President Obama, an African American, does you and the rest of your tea bagging friends will find something to criticize him about huh?

Roska

February 17th, 2010
12:31 pm

Perhaps Obama should also resolve to turn off the teleprompter!

jim d

February 17th, 2010
1:01 pm

well i suspect an executive order could get the job done. :)

jim d

February 17th, 2010
1:05 pm

Does you???? sure does!

Amanda

February 17th, 2010
1:10 pm

My kids play computer game (yes online) most mornings (when they are not in school) and they watch tv even on school days. My son (the only one in school right now) is a A student. It’s not how much technology they are exposed to but how you use technology. My son loves problem solving, geography, and math games. He’s 6 and can name all 50 states and working on the capitols. I know 7th graders that can’t do that. This is how he likes to spend his free time (after school, homework, scouts, and chores). Technology is not evil, it’s how you allow (yes YOU) allow them to use it. Kids can still use a computer, game system, computer and tv during the week and still be active, healthy, happy individuals as long as you are still the parent and not letting the technology be the parent.

jim d

February 17th, 2010
1:11 pm

Dr. Malik el Haj Mohammad,

On a serious note–Mr. Obama should be tending to the things that are of priority to the nation. I fail to see how the most powerfull man in the free world telling parents to use what should be common sense when raising children is addressing these issues.

[...] friend and fellow blogger Maureen Downey addressed this on Get Schooled earlier. She’s on board with the President’s No TV policy. Check out her views and the [...]

Satansez

February 17th, 2010
2:08 pm

I am completely disheartened by our Presidents’ recent quote made for the upcoming March edition of Essence magazine … “But I don’t care how poor you are — you can turn off the television set during the week.” He blatantly admitted that he does NOT CARE about the American people. He should formally apologize – AS SOON AS POSSIBLE.

Reality Check

February 17th, 2010
2:34 pm

Sounds like a Socialistic & Islamist remark to me…..oh, what else should I expect from a Socialist and a Muslim?

Give your race baiting a rest...

February 17th, 2010
2:36 pm

…Dr. Malik el Haj Mohammad…..

http://satansez.wordpress.com/

February 17th, 2010
2:42 pm

Someone should really monitor his interviews!

Dr Malik el Haj Mohammad

February 17th, 2010
2:43 pm

@ jim d

On a serious note-ALL presidents have given advice about pretty much everything. Can’t stand a black man giving out advice can you?

@ Reality Chick

What does my religion have to do with my post? Unlike the rest of the trolls and anon posters I’m using my real name.

Satansez

February 17th, 2010
2:50 pm

Dear Dr. Malik,

Your religion nor name has nothing to do with your post … but your comment was an absurd presumption on your part, automatically assuming that posts are bashing the President because of his race and religion:

…The topic is about kids watching tv not the deficit but I suspect that whatever President Obama, an African American, does you and the rest of your tea bagging friends will find something to criticize him about huh?

Although the topic was about education … Our President of the United States publicly admitted that ‘he doesn’t care about our poor’. That in itself is an unjust and completely foolhardy statement he, as Our President, should NEVER have made during Americas’ time of economic crisis.

Old School

February 17th, 2010
3:01 pm

Remember when the president addressed our students in a nationwide televised speech? My class wondered aloud why he didn’t look directly at the camera instead of to the left and right at the teleprompters. They said it looked like he was talking to everyone but the students “out there” across the United States. I realized they were right!

Mr. President, a little eye contact please?

What's up doc?

February 17th, 2010
3:09 pm

I voted for the man, but he has his priorities all mixed up. He should have lead with Energy. Energy in American is a Jobs Bill and along with that mandate more diesel eninges be put in American passenger vechiles. Like a certain percentage every year for the next 10. Health Care; rollover HSA year to year and increase age on insurance to 26 for family members; Education gut NCLB AYP put the continueal education model in its place until they can reach a compromise. Hit those items and dems can run the country for the next 15 years.
And if he does not do those things, I will not vote for him again; But I sure won’t vote for Palin ………….. Paul/Brown 2012 wooooot

What's up doc?

February 17th, 2010
3:10 pm

Paul / Brown 2012

high school teacher

February 17th, 2010
3:33 pm

“The first thing they do after school is homework. If they haven’t finished by dinnertime, around 6:30 p.m., they pick up where they left off after the meal. And after that, they can read until they hit the sack. Malia’s bedtime is 9 p.m.; Sasha’s lights go out a half hour earlier, he said.”

No wonder their pediatrician and their father thought that they were a little “chubby;” obviously, they don’t get to play outside or exercise at all.

I don’t disagree with limiting television, but I am not an extremist either. Common sense and knowledge of your own children should guide your parenting decisions.

grits and gravy

February 17th, 2010
3:38 pm

“Our President of the United States publicly admitted that ‘he doesn’t care about our poor’.”

Do you have a link for that statement?

Satansez

February 17th, 2010
3:43 pm

@ grits and gravy

Yes … but they may not let me post it … it is the article for which this one is based …

http://www.ajc.com/news/nation-world/obama-no-weeknight-television-308300.html?cxntlid=thbz_hm

Dr Malik el Haj Mohammad

February 17th, 2010
3:43 pm

“Do you have a link for that statement?”

Of course he doesn’t. Just more tea bagger nonsense:

http://www.factcheck.org/2009/05/would-obama-have-soldiers-pay-for-own-war-injuries/

HB

February 17th, 2010
3:44 pm

Old School, as I recall, he made that speech in a high school gym in Virginia to a large audience of students seated on the bleachers on either side of him, so I think he was making eye contact with his live audience rather than staring into the camera.

Satansez

February 17th, 2010
3:47 pm

@ Dr. Malik,

Ummm, scroll up to this article and read carefully from the original article it was taken from …

“There’s no doubt that Michelle and I have more resources and privileges compared with a lot of parents. We understand that,” he said in the interview, appearing in the magazine’s March issue. “But I don’t care how poor you are — you can turn off the television set during the week.”

http://www.ajc.com/news/nation-world/obama-no-weeknight-television-308300.html?cxntlid=thbz_hm

@ Satansez aka tea bagger

February 17th, 2010
3:48 pm

Get your lie straight. He said that he “doesn’t care how poor you are you can cut the tv off…”

jsmom

February 17th, 2010
3:50 pm

@High School Teacher, I was kind of wondering about that myself, I really hope he is exaggerating. I know when I came home from school I needed “detox” time before I could even think about starting my homework. Heck, my preschooler needs about an hour of time to herself before she is a willing participant in any errands or chores that need to be run. I agree, turn off the TV, but starting homework right when they get home? No Way!! Go, run around outside, play in your room, color, take a nap, do something unstructured– you know, be a kid!

Satansez

February 17th, 2010
3:52 pm

It is just a ‘crazy statement’! Watching or not watching television advice for children, has absolutely NOTHING to do with ones’ own financial situation.

Major Faux-pas!!!

high school teacher

February 17th, 2010
3:54 pm

Because our elementary school of 1000 has only one PE teacher, my boys only have a PE for a week at a time every fifth week (it’s part of an exploratory rotation). They do have recess every day, but they need some play time when they get home as well.

Satansez

February 17th, 2010
3:56 pm

Wow! Amazing how some people don’t recognize truth when they see it. I suppose it is too painful to acknowledge when the Leader of our country, who is paid by the people, says something completely inappropriate.

Satansez

February 17th, 2010
3:59 pm

The simple phrase he uttered,

“But I don’t care how poor you are …”

should have never been uttered.

Amanda

February 17th, 2010
4:04 pm

jsmom – my son is in 1st grade – already he has about 30minutes to an hour worth of homework. I give my son a choice on whether to do his homework right after school or after dinner. I remind my son that its his time and he gets to decide how it gets used. Since his bedtime is 8pm he knows if he wants to play before bedtime then he does homework after school. Works about 50% of the time (he likes doing his math homework with his dad after dinner) . In my experience (not only with my kids but also with my younger brothers) give your kids a feeling of ownership of their education, they become more responsible for it.

Old School

February 17th, 2010
4:46 pm

HB, I wasn’t real clear with my comment. I meant that it would have been nice for him to look forward as though he was addressing “tv land” along with the students in the gym. It was touted as a message to all school children across the nation. I guess it’s just a sort of body language thing with me. Some speakers (Reagan was pretty good at it) look into the camera as well as at the attending audience. . . you know, like news anchors do.

Raheem Jackson esq.

February 17th, 2010
4:53 pm

“The simple phrase he uttered,

“But I don’t care how poor you are …”

should have never been uttered.”

OK “Satansez” sheese!

retired

February 17th, 2010
5:15 pm

I think all children need to get outside and move for 30-60 minutes after school. The ones in my neighborhood are out, especially if it is nice, for a while. Then, begin homework as mom cooks dinner. I also did that with mine.

Right On!

February 17th, 2010
5:24 pm

The President is absolutely right!!! Television is meant to be entertainment. As a society, we treat television like we treat food. We over-consume.

Not everyone in this country has the ability or means to tutor their children, send them to private school/move into the best school districts, or provide extracurriculars. Many parents can’t be at home because they have to work to provide for their children. However, everyone has the ability to unplug the television.

More often than not, the rubbish on television hurts our children. (Television shows that glorify getting wasted, sleeping around, and hooking up; television shows based on people who are famous for all the wrong reasons; all the news networks presenting “news entertainment.”)

As with all things in life, moderation is crucial. Some children can watch television and use the computer for a moderate amount of time each night–and there is good information and there are quality shows. However, many spend SO much time in front of televisions/computers that they don’t get enough physical exercise or THINK.

We promote bad behaviors by providing our children access to these shows. Whether they watch it in their bedroom, at your house, or at a friend’s, the message is “You don’t need education. Just party it up.” Then we all stand around and wonder why test scores are low, why we have so much crime, why we face a huge health crisis (either if government gets involved or not, everyone who has health insurance will have to pay higher premiums in the coming years to subsidize the growing number of Americans who are not pysically fit.)

The president is right on!! Again, television may not be a major issue in your family, but it is for many.

sped teacher bibb

February 17th, 2010
5:30 pm

There are loads of programs on T.V. that are educational and directly aimed at school aged children. Are the Obama kids up on current events? Are they getting a view of the “real world”? Concerned parents would balance school,reading,and electronic media of all kinds. Anybody want to bet the oldest or maybe both have a FaceBook page?

To the Tea Bagging Idiots

February 17th, 2010
5:36 pm

jim d: “I fail to see how the most powerfull man in the free world telling parents to use what should be common sense when raising children is addressing these issues.”

If you weren’t so blinded by your disdain for President Obama, you would realize that he was responding to a direct question asked of him about how he raises his children. The question wasn’t on the topic of health care, the economy, etc.

Roska: “Perhaps Obama should also resolve to turn off the teleprompter!”

Again, your hatred for the President is glaring. So would you rather he stumble over the simplest of words like former President Bush, or jot down notes on his hand like your heroine Sarah Palin (what a laughing stock!! the woman can’t get out of her own way!!)? Even your savior President Regan (who actually should have been tried for treason) used a teleprompter.

Satansez:
“It is just a ‘crazy statement’! Watching or not watching television advice for children, has absolutely NOTHING to do with ones’ own financial situation.”

Try to use some common sense. He is obviously referring to the fact that, statistically, by and large, students from lower income homes struggle more academically than their peers. More time spent studying or reading, and less time spent in front of the TV, will help you improve your grades EVEN IF YOU ARE A PART OF THAT STATISTICAL GROUP.

Could he have used better phrasing? Possibly. But if you use an ounce of common sense, you realize that he was not belittling poor folks. Good grief!

And on another note, “Joy In Teaching,” you officially rock!!! As do all teachers, the most underpaid and underappreciated professionals on the planet! And no, I am not a teacher. Just an appreciative parent of 3 honor roll kids (10th grader, 8th grader, 2nd grader) in South Fulton.