I’m worried about what my husband’s TV addiction signals to our kids

The Japan News

Dear Troubleshooter:

I am a female company employee in my 40s. My husband is always glued to the TV and I’m worried about the effect it will have on our young children.

I don’t personally watch a lot of television because I feel like it’s a waste of my day off. But my husband feels that there is nothing wrong with liking what you like. He likes watching TV and playing games on his phone, but when I ask him to do them in moderation, he doesn’t listen to me.

He takes the children out every now and then, so it’s not like I only have complaints about him. But it’s said that children learn by watching their parents. It worries me to think that they will also become addicted to watching TV.

My 2-year-old daughter has recently started saying, “I want to watch TV.” If I let her watch one show, she’ll start begging me to let her watch another.

I sometimes hate myself because I don’t respond kindly to my daughter when she’s like that. What should I do?

—J, Fukuoka Prefecture

Dear Ms. J:

You’re correct in saying that children learn by watching their parents. So, what kind of parents are your children seeing? One is a father who is glued to his smartphone or the TV. But perhaps they are also be watching you, their mother who is irritated by her husband.

In the end, the TV and smartphone are just tools. Don’t think of them as an “absolute evil,” but as a convenient way to get a lot of information. What is important is figuring out an efficient way to use them.

To do that, how about figuring out a balance between screen time, going outside to exercise and other such activities? By using screen time as a topic, you two can discuss how to move forward as a family and as a couple, while being aware of your lifestyle differences as well as your differences in values.

When you are talking, don’t seek for only him to change. One way to approach the matter would be to suggest a way forward that will be best for your children.

Of course, you won’t come to a conclusion right away. But you will set a great example for your children, who will see their parents not giving up but working together to come to a compromise.

— Masami Ohinata, university president