Should We Let Our Kids Watch Movies in the Car?

“This is a very nice van for you; it has a built in DVD player”.  This was the sales pitch we received when we were van shopping a few years back.  Lisa was pregnant with the twins and with Annika running around beside us it was obvious to the sales person that this was going to be the most important feature for people in our ‘situation’.  After looking around for a while we ended up buying that particular van… but not because it had a DVD player!

I have had this ongoing feud with TV for a while.  In the past I have had periods where I have revolted from TV watching and have stopped altogether before getting sucked back in and start wasting far too much time doing nothing.  The past little while however, I seem to have struck a nice compromise with TV.   I have revoked my threats of removing the TV from our house altogether but we have cut off our cable.  We still watch DVD’s and I will still watch some sports and the occasional TV show streamed online but for the most part I have replaced watching TV with daily exercise and keeping busy with the family.  Now that I have that all figured out the next battle is with the kids viewing time.  We do let our kids watch DVD’s at home but we try to keep it to a moderate amount.  When we travel in the van however the rules seem to change.

When we first got the van it was a while before we even showed Annika the DVD player.  These days, with three restless kids in the car, we tend to play movies on any out of town trip.  The reason we do this is simple…it works…very, very well.  We want to drive the 3 hours to the grandparent’s house; no problem.  We have one quick ‘intermission’ break in the middle of the trip and the rest of the time is stress free driving where I can actually talk to Lisa and even get some work done.  Our best meetings lately have been held on the highway as we simply let the Hollywood magicians put our kids in a trance as we travel.  While the stress free driving is fantastic this is not a guilt free decision for us.

I have some great memories as a child going on long drives.  Sure there were times of boredom and nausea but there were also hours and hours of question and answer as I was mystified by all the new sights that we were passing by.  We played ‘I spy’ and we had fun coming up with silly origins for town names like Moose Jaw, Chilliwack, and Wawa.  This not only made the time pass but it also made the trip fun.  I learned a lot from these trips from geology and sociology to independent thought and patience all which I may not have learned about from a screen induced daze.

So what are we going to do about it?  At this age I feel that getting to our destination as stress free as possible is the best solution but as they get older I hope we are dilligent in minimizing the on screen travel time and get to discuss with them the real world around us.  At this time I will live with having a DVD player in the car but I will not guarantee that there will come a time when this fragile relationship goes sour again and the DVD player mysteriously stops working.

  3 comments for “Should We Let Our Kids Watch Movies in the Car?

  1. May 20, 2011 at 6:51 am

    I think we should do let our kids watch movies inside the car most especially if we are to take a long drive. Kids are playful this days just like my son who is so hyperactive. I think the best way to make sure you can concentrate on your driving without worrying about your son is to divert their attention. If you can’t make your kid sleep, then just let them watch movies. Make sure you have their favorite movies with you.

  2. April 28, 2011 at 1:46 am

    I’m guilty of just playing some movies to entertain the children if we’re travelling for long hours, especially if my wife is not with us. I would have wanted them to enjoy the scenery but for now, with their young minds and brimming energy, I’d prefer them sitting down, eyes glued at the monitor in the car, watching their favorite cartoons while I hit on the gas pedals.

  3. April 13, 2011 at 11:07 pm

    I think a nice balance between DVD watching and sight-seeing is a better alternative than just pure DVD watching. If you are making a 3-hour drive, you cn make them watch a one and a half hour movie, and then teach them how you play that little game you mentioned. Or, you can also follow what I sometimes do — let them sleep. 🙂

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