See this bunch?


You know they are in charge within the first 5 seconds.

Their parents are usually absent.

If they are ever present, you have a hard time distinguishing the parents from the kids. Most of the time, the dad is a bumbling fool. No offense, dads, blame Disney.

Tween Girl can sometimes morph into one of these kids, apparently getting me confused with one of the parents from this bunch that the Disney channel shows repeatedly. This has led to introducing her to a Disney Detox.


We commonly reference a detox to someone "abstaining from or ridding their body from toxic or unhealthy substances", according to Merriam Webster.

We consider our Disney Detox to be freeing our tween from potential toxic and unhealthy behaviors influenced by certain television shows.

Our Disney Detox is two-fold:

  1. Reducing the amount of time Tween Girl spends watching television.
  2. Ridding her world of the Disney channel, replacing it with new activities. 

Tweens and TV viewing


I've mentioned before how Tween Girl has taught me that television/social media technology is addictive. Her generation has never known a time when a household didn't contain a computer, cell phone or a television. Kids her age even have TVs in their rooms (I have never allowed televisions in the kid's rooms).

All technology is not bad though. More and more schools are providing homework online, students can purchase electronic versions of books. 

Let me put this in context for adults. A little wine here and there is not all bad, right? Doctors even recommend drinking red wine in moderation for some health benefits. "In moderation" is the key phrase because if adults drink too much red wine, the health benefits are tossed right out of the window. Because, now, an addiction could easily form.

Addiction is defined by Merriam Webster as "a strong and harmful need to regularly have something or do something".

Television or social media period fits perfectly in the category of "strong"or "harmful". Tween Girl is only 9, so we aren't dealing with social media and cell phone addiction...yet. 

The Kaiser Foundation found that while technology makes our lives a lot easier it also creates more opportunities for kids to consume it. The study found that TV viewing among 11 to 14 year old's increases to an extra 1 hour and 22 minutes on top of the 4 hours and 29 minutes per day for those ages 8 to 18. 

That's a big block of time considering kids are in school for, roughly, 7 hours per day. If they have extracurricular activities, add another 2 hours to that. Spending 4 to 5 hours watching television takes away from other things, like eating and sleeping! 

Common Sense Media released an updated study on media usage by tweens and teens, which breaks down the details even more. I started to notice many of these same details and characteristics being displayed by Tween Girl. She started to wake up around 5 am, weekdays and weekends. On Saturdays, she would rather stay in instead of going out for dinner. You know something is wrong when a kid turns down a meal!

It's nothing personal, Mr. Disney


I didn't grow up watching Disney shows. There were some that probably existed, nothing as compared to the juggernaut they've become today.

Today's offerings showcase kids who have attitudes, cute attitudes some say. These are smart mouthed, like to pull pranks on others and love to make foul, potty jokes types of kids.

Yes, I probably just described most tweens.

Even so, though, this type of behavior should not be encouraged. Although our society has decided to forgo kids having manners and using them, there are some parents who still believe in the simple things, like being grateful as opposed to entitled or responding with "yes" when being called by a parent or another adult instead of yelling "what".

Ultimately, I am the parent and I cannot place all blame on Disney. But I know that kids are influenced by what they see or hear other kids doing. And as the parent, I can regulate how much of that Tween Girl is seeing.

Early on in Tween Girl's life, I explained that the kids on TV were actors, getting paid to do and say certain things. I went on to explain that she wasn't one of them, not getting paid to do a single thing.

That's just it though. I already have enough competition in my efforts in raising Tween Girl. I know that this competition will take many forms as she grows older: social media, boys, cell phones, boys...

Even though she is 9, I don't believe that I have missed the opportunity to instill certain values in her.

Disconnecting, Cold Turkey style


Since consistency has been an issue in our home in the past, we disconnected cold turkey style. I have tried using rewards systems in an effort for Tween Girl to earn TV viewing time. It would work for a few weeks but we would sink right back into her watching television around the clock.

This time came off of a hormonal moment she displayed because I introduced study time into her life. Study time is a 30 minute block where she...studies. Not a new concept. I never enforced this with College Boy and not having that consistently impacted his high school academic life.

During study time, Tween Girl can read, write, do math problems, it does not involve the computer, not even for games pertaining to certain subjects. Told you this was cold turkey. Part of the goal is to help her show initiative without me having to remind her to study or do her chores.

Once study time is complete, the TV still doesn't come on or nor does she get computer time. Nope. After study time, she has to find something that is non TV/computer related to entertain herself. I am not her entertainment. She would always lure me into that trap of dancing like a monkey, ok, so maybe not dancing like a monkey. But I would always, somehow, end up entertaining her. She is old enough to play on her own without me initiating, leading, facilitating any of it. This way, she is in control of what will make her happy and satisfied.

While playing on her own is great, we also wanted her to fully engage in her hobbies. Over the last two months, she has learned how to crochet, picked up on her reading time and is enrolled in a dance class. Excessive television viewing robs kids of developing their talents.

Maybe one day soon we can invite Austin, Ally, Liv, Maddie and Jessie back into our home. Just not right now. Tween Girl needs to have the opportunity to further her talents just as these young actors are doing on their Disney Channel shows.

What are some things your kids do when they are not watching television?


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