Can TV Time Be Family Time?


family tv timeTruth time! Our TV is almost always on. Most of the time it’s some sporting event on in the background. But, I’ll also admit I am a sucker for most reality and true-crime shows. I watch the true-crime stuff when I am traveling or when the kids aren’t home. But, (gasp) my daughter does watch The Bachelor with me, while my husband and son make gagging noises from another room.  

My Justification for Keeping the TV On 

Yes, I am fully aware that the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends limited screen time and media use. I am sure our family goes over these limits. I justify our overage by watching as a family (even The Bachelor!).  And, in my defense, generally the content is, dare I say… educational? Maybe I’m grasping.

Our kids are 8 and 10 years old. As they have aged, I have found that there are many shows that can capture the entire family’s interest. Here are the top shows we watch together at our house (not counting the endless hours of SportsCenter or other sports-oriented shows):


First, you have to LOVE Alex Trebek. I can’t get enough of his condescending, yet totally humorous tone. And, lately, they have a contestant who is killing it – over 20 consecutive days of winning. He’s impressive to watch. But, mainly I love this show because my kids try to answer the clues and they are so proud of themselves when they get it correct! Often, they know things I don’t, and it spurs conversations about their interests and things they are studying in school.

See? educational!!

The Amazing Race.

My husband and I watched this show long before we had children and rediscovered it in the last few years. I wasn’t sure if the kids would be into it, but they are!

If you aren’t familiar, the premise of the show is that 10 teams of two are in a race around the world, performing a series of challenges along the way. At the end of each episode, the last team to finish may be eliminated.

At first, I turned it on so our kids could see different parts of the world and maybe learn about different cultures. While some of the challenges are a bit out there, I believe my kids have been able to see the differences in cultures and countries. They are now adding some of these spots to places that they want to visit. And, I hope that they do explore the world someday. A bonus has been that my children are watching teams overcome adversity and push through both physical and mental tasks. Learning to work as part of a team and never give up is always a good lesson.

Top Chef and Top Chef Jr.

I consider myself somewhat of a foodie and have always loved to watch shows about cooking and different cuisines.

Top Chef is a competition for chefs where they are given a specific time frame to complete a challenge to determine who has created the best dish. Sometimes, their ingredient lists are limited (like items from a vending machine) or they must cook to a theme (like the perfect egg).

Top Chef, Jr. is a spin-off TV show, where kids ages 10-13 compete. Watching these shows has led to my kids being interested in helping in the kitchen. My son has gone so far as to enroll in and complete cooking classes at a local cooking school. I have also seen my children’s palates open as they watch. They have been much more willing to try new tastes and dishes. It’s been fun to explore new cuisines with them!

Life Below Zero.

This show follows several individuals and families who follow a subsistent lifestyle throughout different parts of Alaska. Subsistent living means living off of very limited resources and working for the food, water, and shelter you have. Basically living 100% off the land. These people grow or hunt for their own food, build their homes and other necessities, and live mainly off the grid.

We’ve watched as they set nets to collect salmon, and then build a smokehouse to cure and smoke the fish, then build an underground cooler to keep their food safe throughout the winter. My kids are fascinated by the lifestyle of these people and have showed an interest in learning about survival skills in the wilderness. While camping last summer, my kids learned to start a fire and built their own shelter. Then, they gathered pine needles and made themselves a special tea, as they had seen. All of this is because of the influence of this show.

It’s nice to know that they have some skills that would help them to survive in the wilderness, if needed. I also like that the people highlighted are hard workers. They are up from dawn to dusk doing whatever it takes to make sure they have what they need to survive. I admire their work ethic and I love what it’s teaching my kids.

TV Time is Time Together

We spend much of our time out of the house at our kids’ sporting events and other activities, camping and with family and friends. So, when we ARE home, I like getting the family together, piling on the couch and watching these shows. It’s a time for me and my husband to relax and kick up our feet. And, our kids aren’t running off to their rooms to play on their devices. Through these shows, we share experiences and then, very often, they are a catalyst for us to create family memories!

What are some of your favorite shows to watch as a family?