3 Apr
Posted in: parenting
By    Comments Off on Nielson Ratings and Not Watching TV

Nielson Ratings and Not Watching TV

TV Nielson Ratings

Last week we received a letter from Nielson, the marketing research firm that tracks (among other things) when and what people watch on TV, wanting us to be panelists. My husband and I chuckled. Our daily TV watching consists of late night TV, and we don’t even have cable. We receive four channels…four.

Today a sweet woman from Nielson called wanting to know if we received the letter. I confirmed we had and explained to her why we might not be ideal for the position of panelist. After she recovered from the notion of us having only four channels, she proclaimed us just what Nielson wanted, real American families.

I have to read magazine covers while waiting in the checkout line simply to have some working knowledge of current entertainment. I require Jimmy Fallon to be on top of his game and have popular guests on so I know what movies are coming out. If only Nielson wanted our TV watching schedule during March Madness, Winter/Summer Olympics or the NFL season. No, Nielson wants to know what we’ll be watching in the beginning of May. Nothing but Jimmy Fallon and maybe a movie from the public library or Redbox. My kids finish school in May which means we have nothing short of 26 field trips, five track days, 11 picnics and six graduations to attend next month. It’s a slight exaggeration, but seriously just slightly. All I have time for in May is finishing the school year. That is all.

I don’t understand when studies come out saying the average American teenager watches 4 1/2 hours of TV a day. That number doesn’t count video games or computers (source: Generation M2: Media in the Lives of 8- to 18-Year-Olds, Jan. 2010). We rarely turn the TV on at all during the day. I know we’re not normal, in so many ways, but how in the world does a healthy kiddo watch 4 1/2 hours of just TV on a weekday? My kids go days without asking to play video games or use the computer, again not normal. Items with screens aren’t our primary source of entertainment or engagement. No one has a chart to keep track of screen time. I wouldn’t be able to handle charting all four kids in anything. I take each request as it’s brought before the governing council of mom. A benefit of having a large family is having people around to interact with, someone is always there. This is also a downfall, but that’s another post about why I need a deadbolt on my bathroom door. Really with only four channels, the chance of something being on TV that you actually want to watch is rare.

I grew up in a house where everyone had their own TV, and I knew more about the Huxtables than I did my parents. My parents have been lulled to sleep at night by the TV for decades. I knew that wouldn’t work for my own family. Like anything else in parenting, I don’t think the way my house runs is the way everyone’s house should run. Find what you’re comfortable with and do that.

My family could barely contain themselves at Christmas when I relented to repeated requests for a large flat-screen TV. Our Christmas present to the children was a 55-inch flat-screen high definition TV which is ridiculously larger than our old 27-inch 120-pound box TV. I was afraid the giant screen would change the amount of TV we watch. It hasn’t. It has made movie and sports watching more enjoyable. My 9-year-old told me our house at least looks “normal” with a flat-screen TV…until you turn it on and realize it only has four channels.


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