The Role of Media in Our Home. - The Magic Onions

The Role of Media in Our Home.

The Role of Media in the Waldorf Home article from The Magic Onions

Some of you have asked questions about the role media plays in our home. Do we watch television, do we watch movies, do we play video games?I feel this is a very touchy subject and am hoping I can share how our family handles media in our home in a non-judgemental and truthful way.

Our family subscribes to many Waldorf philosophies and limiting media exposure is one we buy into without reservation. There are many reasons why we feel that TV is against the best interests of our children. Not only have we have read many articles and studies that regale the negative effects that too much TV has on young, developing, brains. But we have also realized that when we have randomly watched TV with our children, we have come away from the experience knowing in our hearts that the time we have just spent has been, if not a negative and harmful experience, then at least a total waste of our family time. So, yes, we do actively limit media exposure in our home.

Not completely though. About three and a bit years ago, when Kitty was 4, we decided to end our cable subscription and therefore do not have any television channels in our house at all. We do have a portable DVD machine and a number of DVD’s that Matthew and I have carefully selected. Our children watch a few of the Disney fairytale movies that we think are lovely (albeit far too long) and we have a number of Nature DVD’s like ‘Earth’ and David Attenborough. These, our children are allowed to watch if they feel like it. Father Christmas brought them a delightful set of DVD’s called Storybook International which I think is a marvelous series for anyone who want’s to make sure their children are watching quality stories. There are 10 discs and each disc has about 5, beautifully narrated fairytales on it. The stories are tales and legends that have been collected from around the world. They tell of places like Africa, Russia and India. And they are acted by wonderful actors with beautiful scenery. I love that each story is only about 20 minutes long so my children are not ‘locked in’ to an hour and a half like they are with other movies. And I love that they are learning about other cultures and countries. Here is a YouTube clip of one of the fairytales… The Stubborn Princess.

By not having TV channels in our home, there is never an opportunity to ever randomly watch TV. Any movie time they do have is a conscious decision. And what they watch is a conscious decision too. It’s totally amazing to me that, having been out of the TV scene for so long, I find what my friends call ‘educational’ TV utterly jarring and inappropriate. They say… ‘But, how can Dora be harmful?’ I don’t want to say that it is harmful, but to me who has become sensitized to TV (as opposed to desensitized) Dora is loud and brash and mesmerizing in a Kaa (the snake from the Jungle Book) kind of way. I am somewhat appalled at the TV shows that are directed at the 8 to 10 year old audience. They are, in my opinion, often sassy, far too grown up and, again, inappropriate for children who should still be innocent in mind and spirit. Whenever I happen to catch a moment or two of them, I feel immensely relieved that my 8 year old is not subjected to them on a daily basis. I find the advertising during these shows alarming too.

We are not dogmatic about no TV. If we are at someones house and the kids are watching the television, we will make sure that they are watching a kids’ channel and let it fly. There have been times when I have felt totally uncomfortable with what has been on the TV when at a friends house and I have had to make an issue of it. On one occasion, the adults were watching ‘Bounty Hunter’ when the children joined us. Our friends thought nothing of it and I had to be brave enough to ask them to turn it off. Another time, the adults were watching the news and the kids joined us when a news story about mothers who murder their babies came on. On both occasions, I was utterly amazed that our friends thought nothing of letting their children watch such sensitive material. Both of these experiences were highly uncomfortable for me but they strengthened my resolve to protect my children from media I feel they are too young for.

I have had people say to me, ‘It’s an ugly world out there… you shouldn’t shield them from the truth they might, one day, have to face.’ My response is ‘Why?’… ‘Why should a young spirit know that there is ugliness out there?’ I want it to be a beautiful world for as long as possible… with any luck it might just be beautiful for them forever.

A Good Man and I don’t miss the television at all. We get our news from reading newspapers, the internet and NPR. And, I have to admit to having had a horrible addiction to reality TV and was guilty of spending  wasting hour upon hour watching utter junk. We have a Netflix subscription and watch an hour of TV a night on my laptop after the kids have gone to bed. Mindless TV watching is not an option.

Our children do not play video games. They do not use the computer. At 8 and 4, and at a Waldorf school, there’s no need for them to have computer screen time. I have an ipad that has a few free games on it and they play on it when were are waiting somewhere and there is nothing else for them to do.

We have quite a few books on tape and Kitty sometimes loves to listen to her favorite stories like Little House on the Prairie. And I am really thinking of joining Sparkle Stories for her when finances ease up a little for us. I know she’ll love having a regular subscription of beautiful stories to listen to.

What do our children do instead of watching TV? They play together, they play alone, they play inside, they play outside, they read books, they knit, they practice shooting arrows, they paint, they draw, they build forts, they build blocks, they make up stories, they make gnomes, play ball…


The Role of Media in the Waldorf Home article from The Magic Onions


In a nutshell, we do not miss having a television in our house. Our children do have media time. And we get a little free time while they are watching their stories but no more than when they are playing or reading or crafting. We like that it is quality media that we have carefully preselected. Childhood is just too precious to spend in front of a TV.

I hope this has been helpful in some way.

Blessings and magic,

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Donni Webber is the mom behind the popular natural living Waldorf website and blog, The Magic Onions - where the magic of nature and the wonder of childhood collide to make each moment a precious gift. She is a photographer, writer, crafter, wife and mother of two inspiring young children. Her work has been featured in many popular publications, including HGTV, Better Homes and Gardens, Disney and Apartment Therapy.

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  1. Well said, I completely agree. I can’t count the times people would say to me “they’ll learn it anyway” my thoughts are that they don’t have to learn it at this age. Good for you to speak about it.

  2. You succeeded well in carefully handling this subject! I fully agree with you. Being a Waldorf teacher in the Netherlands I experience what damage is done by t.v. and computer.
    So thank you for being so careful and caring.

  3. This is a comment from The Magic Onions Facebook Page that I’d like to share here too… “Thanks for sharing! Enjoyed reading your thoughts on media and can totally relate to it. We have been tv free for just over 7 years now and i always have a giggle when people look at me oddly and say what do you do? They are concerned we ar…e missing out! Bahaha! We love life without tv! We are not missing out at all. I don’t know how people find the time to watch tv. My son also goes to a steiner school but we were tv free before joining the school. My 6 year old son has only just started to ask me why we don’t have a tv. He told me this morning at breaky he plans to buy one when he is a man lol. I do miss watching the tennis but I survive! :)” from Anita

  4. So beautifully and sensitively put Donni.
    It could be something I wrote myself (except I probably wouldn’t have done it as nicely).

    We are often quizzed by people who find it hard to believe that we can exist without tv in our home, and then they are shocked at the way my children play so well together and how short their birthday and Christmas lists are.

    Hmm, wonder if the 2 might just be related to a lack of tv and advertising?!

  5. Very well written. We are not a no media family, however, we are very limited TV family. DD watches only one show on TV, and it has no commercials. Her b-day and Christmas lists are so short. I notice my friends on facebook at Christmas talking about all the things that their children want, and my dd struggles to come up with things LOL. We do use computer for DD’s math as she is very advanced and is past the point that I am comfortable teaching her. She zooms through and loves it, and we do allow some movies for family movie night once a week. DD also watches NOVA’s on PBS and has developed a love of quantum physics from them. Her b-day cake this year is actually going to be in the shape of an atom LOL. I like seeing different perspectives, and we fall somewhat in the middle, but this was such a well written post I just had to comment.


  6. Well said! This past year we finally let cable go. It was a battle between me & dh for years and then all of a sudden he was agreeable. I have been so relieved since at not having to police the TV.

  7. We also have a very similar policy, with the exception of video games, which I’m still not too pleased about. My kids are a bit older though. This was wonderfully written.

  8. Halleluiah! I love this. We don’t have satellite either. I read a lot. I wish this story was plastered all over the media! Love your photos.

  9. I very much enjoyed reading your post. We are also a no tv family who gets many comments from others about how strange this is,etc. Glad to see there are many others who believe what we do about the inappropriate content and the time sink of tv. One question I have for you and others is how do you explain to your children why no tv? My 4 year old occassionally watches tv when outside our home (family and friends where I feel it is appropriate to comply with their rules, if content is ok), and then comes home asking for the same in our house. I’m finding that “every family does things differently” and “we like to spend our time doing more fun things” only goes so far with my 4 year old.

  10. My son is only 2 but we are a tv free family as well.
    I completely agree about shows like Dora. I have many friends that talk about the educational value, but the more I am away from the shows the worse they seem to me.

    My son gets very limited tv time. Not A daily thing. Sometimes going a month without watching any. But like your family it is very conscious viewing, and I always watch it with him.

  11. Now that my children are teenagers I am so glad that we have been (and continue to be) careful about what they are exposed to mediawise. Many people thought that by not exposing them to these things at a young age they would be overwhelmed by it when they were older. This has not been the case at all. In fact I would say that my kids are much more interested in current events than their peers and certainly more than my husband and I were at their age. I like to think that has something to do with waiting until they were ready to handle such things but who can say. All I can say is that protecting them when they were young from the news and other media that was developmentally inappropriate has in no way kept them from being able to utilize it once they were old enough for it.

  12. Thank you all for adding to this discussion. I hope we keep the conversation going.
    Blessings and magic,

  13. Well said! I couldn’t agree with you more. For me it is not just to shield their innocence but also to spur their creativity.

  14. My husband and I have never subscribed to cable tv. The old tv that we did have recently turned b&w so we took it in to be recycled. Now we use a laptop for the occasional movie. Our kids are 7 & 9 and when they see a tv they instantly become zoned out so we know that it’s not good for them. They have limited computer time to play chess or educational games with no internet access. We all prefer to read, garden, play musical instruments and be creative instead.
    Excellent post!
    ~ joey ~

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