TVs in Vans? Are you a fan?

And by vans, I mean "cars"... It's just, you know, van + fan rhyme and TVs in Cars? Remember SARS? seemed a little WTF for a title. Anyway! Today I'd like to discuss the whole TV/DVD in the family vehicle situation. We will be purchasing our (minivan) at the last possible second before the babies are born to prolong having a car payment until it's absolutely necessary. However! We have already decided on the make/model/color we want and because we're purchasing and I'll likely drive the thing for the rest of my life, we're going Bells and Whistles Edition all the way. Of course, "Bells and Whistles" in minivan speak = "You want a TV with that, right?"

Meanwhile, we're like, "No! NononononoINFINITYNO!"

I know people who swear by their car entertainment systems and that's also cool but I'll admit I find it (personally) depressing that the TVDVD Car unit is pitched as a "zone your kids = awesome!" device, which is just... I don't know, I mean... isn't there anywhere left to escape the screen? Is NOTHING SACRED ANYMORE!?? What happened to being entertained by the view of a changing landscape out a window? (That is seriously something my mother would say. I am SO my mother's daughter, holy shit.)

I can list a million incredible memories that would not exist if our summer road trips were provided by Disney DVDs. Of course, I hated, at the time, that my parents dragged me off the beach every summer to road trip, but in retrospect, some of my fondest memories were on the road, Mad Libbing with my brother or listening to Pearl Jam along windy Colorado roads and beyond. I mean... Pearl Jam's TEN came out when I was ten. Would that have been half as profound if I wasn't staring out the window of a rented Ford Aerostar in an Arizona lightningstorm?

I guess I feel like we owe it to our kids to give them a collection of hellish road trips; where there's fighting and punching and "I spy with my little eye something... topless!" (A convertible, hello.) Where there's boredom and thinking and "Are we there yet?" and "DON'T MAKE ME PULL THIS CAR OVER!" and yes, even tantrums. Because that's ALL part of the experience. Because we're setting our kids up for dependency on screens to keep them entertained instead of finding those tools in themselves. Boredom after all, is the gateway drug to an imagination well-used.

What do you guys think? Did you invest in a Home Entertainment system for you car? Why or why not? Is this something you have an opinion on? Call me nostalgic (if I could buy a 2012 Odyssey with a tape deck I'd be pumped) but I feel that enabling my kids' boredom is one of my greatest gifts as a parent. I want them to feel SO bored they have no choice but to think and watch and listen to the world outside their windows. In the car and also in life.

Please feel free to disagree wholeheartedly with me. Like I said in the video, it's easy for me to say "hell no!" to car screens with two kids. I may change my tune with four.



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Unknown | 3:21 PM

I'm on the fence about it. We don't have one and I once tried to rig up my ipad so my son could watch Curious George on a long car ride. 10 minutes in and he puked all over the ipad- whoops, carsickness! I can see where they'd come in handy from time to time though!

I also have a 5 year old niece who has one in her parents' car- and it's literally turned on the second she gets in her seat- even if they're only going 5 minutes. That, I think is ridiculous.

I agree that learning to be bored, look out the window, entertain yourself, etc. is important! When I was young my parents gave in and bought us a Gameboy (we didn't have any video games in the house) but we were only allowed to use it on trips longer than 3 hours and only for half an hour each.

Rachel | 3:23 PM

While I do totally agree with you (I just upgraded from a '99 corolla with a tape player to a 2012 mazda CX-7 with fancy-schmancy blue tooth for my Pandora... that took me two months to even realize I had, let alone get it to work) I think you may want the dvd player in the car eventually. All things are good in moderation; just because you have the screens doesn't mean you'll have to use them ALL THE TIME. I have friends that turn theirs on to go to the grocery store. It's ridiculous. When I was little my parents would put a tiny TV/VCR combo in the car and power it through some old school converter box for (multi)day trips. We could watch a movie in the morning and one in the afternoon, but that was it. We had to entertain ourselves the rest of the time. I think it was just enough to prevent serious crabbiness and we all left the car happier.

SN: We only ever watched Babe in the car and my parents could never see the screen so they thought all the animals were people!

Roxanne | 3:28 PM

I don't have one in my car. I probably wouldn't get one.

HOWEVER, I did take my then-3-year-old on an 11 hour road trip and borrowed a portable DVD player from a friend.

He did enjoy sitting there, holding the DVD player and watching Spiderman during the trip. He only watched it for a few hours of the trip. It was kind of a good distracter, but I wouldn't get one permanently in the car. If I got my own personal DVD player, I'd probably only use it on trips that were longer than maybe 5 hours.

randi | 3:30 PM

We don't have a dvd player/screen in our car but when we go on loooong trips we borrow my father's van which has a screen. We only use it if we're driving more than 4 hours or so though, because my oldest does like to play eye-spy and look for license plates from other provinces/states. Honestly, if I'm driving, I prefer if my son isn't talking in my ear constantly, especially when driving through heavy traffic like in Toronto, which we do frequently. So, I guess I'm pro for long drives, but NO for every day use.

The Dalai Mama | 3:32 PM

I totally agree with you, and disagree. We have been on several road trips with the kids and got a dvd player (that straps on the headrests) for our first trip. I worried that it would be too much. But I have to say that the kids really enjoy playing ispy and other games and don't watch TV non-stop. I have found the TV really comes in handy when it is getting close to bedtime/naptime.

I have friends who have the dvd players built-in and use it all the time. Our rule is more than 3 hours in the car and we will bring the dvd player--but it doesn't get turned on until we've been in the car at least and hour. If you aren't going to be taking long road trips--then I wouldn't bother, but if you plan to--it is worth the investment.

Spencer Family | 3:33 PM

We have one in our car (04 honda pilot--has a tape deck too!) and RARELY ever use it. My son knows that it's primarily for long car trips and rarely ever asks to watch it. Despite how little we use it, I like having that option there. Would I pay more for it? Probably not, but today it seems pretty standard in most vans/suvs.

In Due Time | 3:35 PM

We have a DVD player, you can hook it up on the back of the headrest but its not built in.

Personally, when my niece was 1-3 and we were on 12 hour car trips, it was nice to be able to pop in a Dora video for her when she started getting fussy because she didn't understand that we still have 6 more hours to drive. That doesn't mean she watches it the entire 12 hours or on the way to the grocery store, but it was nice to have.

If it comes free and standard, count us in, but totally in moderation.


I guess that's my issue - that it comes STANDARD in Vans/DVDs. That one must go out of her way to specify that she doesn't want TVs in her car. I feel like I'm supposed to want them and that weirds me out. Like "this is just what you do when you have kids." That not wanting the option makes us the weirdsmobiles at the car lot.

Amy | 3:39 PM

We have one (and 4 kids! Oldest is 7) and love it. We consider them a captive audience for leapfrog DVDs so they can learn about "icky sticky letters" and stop asking if they can have a snack or if we are almost there every 32.4 seconds during an 8 hour drive (which, let's be honest, is a minimum of 12 hours with 4 kids) :)

Plus, wireless headsets=xm radio and conversation for the hubs and me... At least for a little bit :)

Alecia | 3:39 PM

I agree with you, but think if you want to compromise on the whole deal, get the van without DVD player, but get a portable DVD player. It's much more useful anyway. That's what we have. I'll admit we rarely use it in the car for the same reasons you list, but it is nice to have it to take somewhere if we need it *outside the car*. It's even useful in the house if, especially when the twins come, you want some quiet time for the older two, but they want to watch different things or watch a quiet DVD in their rooms.

Charlie | 3:46 PM

A TV in a van? I think the only to say is yes.

But only as long as its at least 65 inches and plays blu-ray dvds as well as 3D movies.

So, yes, as long as its 65" Plasma 3D/Blu-Ray/HD/LED/x-box/wii/playstation3 compatible.

And can serve me beverages.


Glenda | 3:46 PM

We had one for about 3 yrs when my kids were 9 & 12. We used it as a means to settle down at night on a long road trip cross country. They watched a movie and dosed off. We never put it on a short trip to the grocery store. I think that's ridiculous and they should know how to behave when we go out in the car.

We played Ispy in the car...sang... they brought coloring books/ workbooks/ flash cards etc to keep the mind going.

I think it is totally up to you. Best of luck deciding :)

Swirls of Happy | 3:56 PM

I am with you all the way!! I don't even have a tv in my master bedroom. I think one tv in the house is fine and that is it. I would much rather read at night or play games and stuff anyway then watch tv and I implement the same with my kids. I love talking to my babes in the car and just listening to their fun music with them!!!

Elaine | 3:59 PM

Enabling boredom is a great thing and I totally agree with it but in a car a screaming child is by far the most distracting thing and when I'm driving distracting is really dangerous.

We have a DVD player in our SUV. I use it when we drive to my parents and I stick to Sesame Street or some such thing. I definitely don't regret having it and I don't think it's messing up my kid to watch an educational video every once in a while to keep me from careening off the road.

Liz | 4:00 PM

We have one in our van, but it's only one screen so everyone in the car watches (and listens to) the same thing. We only have one kiddo so far (second due very, very soon), but we drove from Ohio to Colorado this summer. 20 hours just of driving. Not including stops. With an 18 month old who rarely sleeps in the car for more than 20 minute increments. So yes, I'll admit to thanking the Lord for the lulling sights and sounds of Baby Einstein on that trip. But I think we'll have pretty strict boundaries with it...only on long trips...only 2 videos or something like that. I definitely don't want to use it as a babysitter, but it's been nice to have it for those times when certain toddlers get cranky but won't sleep.


Same, Swirls! One screen household as well. Don't believe in TVs in bedrooms for the same reason I don't want them in my car.

Thanks for sharing, all! Appreciate your insight/opinions as always.

Wilson | 4:01 PM

I'm with you on this. But I only have one kid so far, and we literally give her rocks and sticks to play with. Just the other day I was looking at vintage abacuses on Ebay...I might not be the best judge.

Though we'd likely become friends if we met at the farmer's market, our babies side-by-side in their strollers trading mix tapes.

The Hojo Family | 4:03 PM

I agree 100% with you. We used to go on vacations where we usually had to drive 7-8hrs., and there were NO tv's in the car. My sisters, brother and I survived just fine. And it was actually a lot of fun! We got to buy travel size gameboards, madlibs, play the license plate game, slug bug, read, talk, etc. It built the excitement for the trip! I don't have tv's in my minivan and I don't intend to install them.

Roya | 4:07 PM

I'm fairly anti-TV everywhere, but I think that a TV in my car would make long road trips actually enjoyable for everyone, rather than miserable (which is why we never go anywhere currently.)

I can't imagine using it daily. My kids are only allowed 1 hour of TV a day MAX (rule loosely followed on days mom is at the end of her rope), and I don't see why one movie on a 6 hour drive would be bad...especially if it comes standard in the van. I mean, they don't even have to know it exists until you REALLY need it...right?

Dorothy | 4:09 PM

We got a van in 2010, and they weren't standard then - amazing how quickly things change.

I was not in favor of a TV in the car until we planned a 9-hour trip and I though I might lose my mind with a 3yr-old and 11M old. So my parents installed one for us for my birthday.

Obviously the 11M old couldn't watch it because he's rear facing...but I found it most helpful when he was sleeping and I wanted my 3 yr-old to be that might be something to consider with twin babies and two older kids.

I agree with others - there have to be limits...we only use it when we're going to be in the car for a long trip (more than an hour and a half) and even then we don't use it the whole time - we only watched 2 movies during that 9 hr trip.

Donna | 4:18 PM

Never had one, never will. I agree with you about kids learning how to be on road trips...that's just how it is :) My son is 6 now and has been on plenty of road trips....very long ones. We pack a special bag for the car filled with lots of fun stuff to do...he looks forward to it. Now that he has a DS, he is allowed to play that, but not the whole time!

I've seen a parent bring a portable dvd player into a restaurant before...I found that a bit much. And when parents drop the kids off at school and have a dvd playing...really? They are less than 2 minutes from home!

Andi | 4:29 PM

I felt the same way, but then my parents bought us a DVD player for the car.

We didn't open it for a long time. We finally did one week when I felt so crappy and I needed a break. It was wonderful.

But then... my son started to ask for it all the time. And I hated that. He used to love watching out the window.

So, I made a rule. Abitrary or not, it's our rule: 1 segment of Clifford/whatever show (or 20 minutes) per 2 hours of car riding.

So, if we're going to the store, to grandma's... the TV stays off. And you know what? My son understands that. He asks if it's a long ride and there will be TV, but if we say no he doesn't ask again. It's a nice middle, I think.

Claudia | 4:30 PM

I generally disagree with TVs in vans/cars (even portable ones). I think it ends up feeding into the lack of exercise regime that North America has come under because it further encourages sedentary behaviour. If it becomes so engrained in your lifestyle that you watch TV when you're sitting from a young age, what exactly is going to stop you or change your habits as you get older.

It's important to teach children that there is more entertainment in life than just watching TV/computers/iPads etc. Enjoy the "old fashioned" sights and sounds and licence plate bingo and Mad Libs.

the ones that get my goat the most are the shopping carts with the tvs in them. If your kids are so bad at going to the mall/grocery store, maybe they shouldn't be going with you.

Kristen | 4:31 PM

I feel pretty anti-DVD player in the car, for most of the reasons mentioned. It is certainly not always a picnic with our 3 and 5 year olds in the car, but they "read" stories, draw in a notepad, play games, listen to music...count to 100 angrily when I tell them we still have awhile in the car...:)

I would not want to have the discussion over and over and over about when we turn the player on...we borrow a portable player for really long trips and keep it in the trunk so the kids don't even know we have it. When the sh$& hits the fan....surprise!

It is not always the popular opinion out there, but trust your gut on this one.

PS I am an LA mama too and I love your darn blog!

Emily | 4:31 PM

i'm with you: a resounding hell no. why can't they read if they need to be entertained? with a walkman!

Andi | 4:33 PM

Also, something cool that I like that comes iwth those entertainment centers... the Audio! Your kids' different music tastes can be played in their own separate headphones, or one child can nap while the other listens to music. For some reason I don't feel like music is "zoning out" ...I mean, it might be, but so many of my memories were soundtracked by good songs, and when I hear that song play it helps me to remember. Maybe for that reason, you could choose the entertainment system.

Christina | 4:34 PM

We used to bring along a plug-in TV for the long 12-hour drive from Dallas to St. Louis we take four times a year for our two kids. But this was really before they could entertain themselves for long periods of time. Now, my eldest reads a stack of books during the drive and my youngest alternates between books and video games.

The TV came about because I could not stand one more "Are we there yet?" But, really, there is NO need for kids to watch TV on the short drives around time.

Heidi | 4:34 PM

Completely, 100% with you on this. Mine are grown now (well, almost - the 'baby' is 17) and they had to "suffer" with games, conversation, music we all heard and yes - each other. They now talk about those times in a favorable way, loving the "road" part of trips almost as much as the "trip" part. I find it completely absurd that it's now standard in cars. I remember when the trend was starting and my friends were scrambling to buy the DVD players to had to *gasp* plug into the cars for entertainment and I couldn't understand the fuss, reason or purpose behind it.

Years later? Still don't get it. What a great opportunity waster.

Anonymous | 4:39 PM

Sadly if you want the nice rear back up camera to bebable to see/be warned of a kid behind you, you have to get the DVD player. We don't have it in our car. If we have a really long car ride we break out the iPad.

Unknown | 4:40 PM

Also, you might like Susan Maushart's memoirish book _The Winter of Our Disconnect_ about a mom who pulled the plug on her three teenagers (and herself) for 6 months. (If you got a DVD player in your car, you could read it while your husband drove and your children vegged out. Heh.)

Dana | 4:45 PM

I will resist this till I die. NO TVS IN THE CAR, THANK YOU VERY MUCH.
We have four kids (including twins. yay you!) under 7 and we play all manner of goofy games on long car rides.
Last year, we drove 10 hours to Maine and brought something called Yamodo. The gist: there's a blank page with a made up word and the first person draws something, passes it to the next person who draws something more, etc. Each person's picture combines to create a definition of the word. Because the kids couldn't write last summer, they each drew something and described it to my husband who put the entire sentence together.
My favorite: "bopatop" - a happy Mommy about to have a baby who likes balloons and disco balls with strings hanging off the bags.
That's the kind of stuff I'm going to hang on to forever. I'm even looking forward to the same drive again later this month.

Anonymous | 4:47 PM

I hear ya! But if they come "standard," per your subsequent comment, then maybe you could have a rule (as other commenters have said): Only to be used on LONG road trips, and you can only watch ONE educational movie/show on it per day. (Or etc). Might be a good compromise, though I don't blame you for not wanting one at all!

Sarah | 4:57 PM

"I want them to feel SO bored they have no choice but to think and watch and listen to the world outside their windows." I LOVE YOU FOR SAYING THIS. My son is a little over 1 and he gets ZERO screen time and no plans to have any any time soon. Everyone feels like I'm judging their parenting by making this choice. I'm not. It's just what feels right for us. Can't the boy learn to think and entertain himself first? Just for a little while?

kim {the non-mom blogger} | 5:13 PM

Hell YES!!! My dream car is a minivan with a DVD player, but just to curb the damn fighting. My three cannot enter the car without immediately arguing "she's looking out my window, he's breathing on me, she's on my arm rest". I honestly don't know how I haven't had an accident yet because I'm just so stressed in the car! I TOTALLY agree with all your points about being plugged in, we have one TV in the house {and no cable}, but in the car I'm in survival mode.

deannagabriel | 5:14 PM

growing up in the 80s/90s, my family had a conversion van that had a tv and vcr (vcr!) in it. we took lots of road trips (24hr drives to florida, 6 hour trips to the adirondaks, 8 hour trips to the shore) and some of my best memories of those trips involve watching our "road trip movies." we were never allowed to watch it the whole way, but im sure it saved my parents a few headaches. my sister and i always made a big deal of choosing our movie lineups and would try and "theme" them around the location of our vacations. im not sure if i agree with having them as an every day "accoutrement," but for special occasions and roadtrips it can actually add to the memories!

Tara | 5:17 PM

Yes, boredom is USEFUL and PART OF LIFE. Kids have to learn how to deal with it. We can't spend our entire lives plugged into something when we're bored.

When we bought our Honda CR-V, the salesman was incredulous that we didn't want the entertainment package. I agree, don't want it. We took a portable DVD player with us on a 14-hour drive, and our 3-year-old watched one 90 minute movie and thought it was a super awesome treat. If you want to reserve "videos in the car" for long road trips only, that's easier to enforce if the TV isn't always in the car.

And by the way, that Honda ad is hysterical. They really know who they're talking to.


Hell no. HELL no! I have one TV and it's in my living room, and that is enough, thank you.

I also find car TVs super-distracting when they're in other people's cars. Like the car ahead of me at a stoplight. I realize that the driver can't see the screen (presumably for safety purposes), but all the drivers BEHIND the car can! And it's...I don't know... It feels WEIRD and WRONG to be on the road, driving, and look over and see "The Muppet Show" in someone else's car.

(Although, if you're going to have in-car entertainment, "The Muppet Show" is a pretty good choice.)

~ Noelle

Melissa Wilson | 5:21 PM

I don't have kids yet, so take this for what it is, but I'm totally with you, Rebecca. I wouldn't take a TV in a car even if it was free. I don't think being able to watch a video on a long car ride is a terrible thing (the old school 13" TV in my bedroom was purchased more than a decade ago by my parents for us to watch in the car on a long, long, long never ending car trip—it was awesome then and still is), but I really wouldn't want it to be constantly available, for all the reasons you listed. I'd much rather get a couple or portable DVD players or iPads (or heck, one; let them share) that can be pulled out for a while and then put away.

Carrie | 5:30 PM

I just completed a cross-country road trip by myself with my three kids (12, 9, & 6yrs) in an Odyssey with a DVD player. Believe it or not, it didn't get much use. My kids were content to quietly look out the window during most of the trip, listening to music. Just having the player doesn't mean it has to dominate the experience. It can be like a TV in your home, present but with limits. For us, it never gets used in our day to day life, and the kids never ask to use it under those circumstances. For longer trips, we balance it with music, conversation, and games. Plus, before a trip, we make a bigger deal about packing books than movies. Attitude is everything.

Also, portable DVD players are a HUGE hassle when you have more than one child.

Arnebya | 5:42 PM

Agree. We've already decided when we purchase a new vehicle that even if we go bells and whistles, the entertainment package still won't be included. I do admit, however, that we bought the removable DVD player (velcros to the headrest) about six years ago. We've used it twice. Our kids still don't have a TV in their room and we only have two in the whole house.

It's our job to deprive them of the enjoyment in getting that glassy eyed look they get from too much gadgetry/TV. And by deprivation we mean punch buggy red!

Elise | 5:44 PM

I swore I would never have a DVD player in our car for all the reasons you state but we ended up with one in our second hand Odyssey. I love it. Our three girls are only 18 months old and hardly ever watch TV (less than 15 minutes per day) so when we stick the Baby Signing Time disc in they are entranced. Because they are too little for headphones, we also have to listen to the audio so it's a shared experience of songs and talking about what they are watching. Honestly, it's really hard to meet the needs of three babies when you are all cooped up in the car. You'll have your older kids to help entertain the twins, so you may never "need" a DVD assist but I am certainly grateful to have one now and then.

Elise | 5:47 PM

As for them coming standard, you don't have to use it, but whoever buys the van after you is likely going to want one. Resale value and all that.

Catherine | 5:51 PM

I used to be all, "HECK NO!" but I have my limits nowadays. The four hour drive to grandma's house is one such limit. I say this on the eve before we pick up our Honda Odyssey Touring Elite (Oh yes, bells and whistles baby) and it does have the ginormous tele in the back. But you know, I have control of if and when that thing comes down. It will be implemented on road trips only.

I agree, I often worry about how screens have pervaded our lives to the hilt. iPhone, iPad (which we give them now in the car from time to time on long trips (multi-hour), etc. And it's scary. But I remember the insanely long trips with my parents, bored numb by my older brother ignoring me with head phones and me just staring out the window. Reading made me carsick. very. (still does). I probably would have given some important teeth for a television on a few Ohio to North Carolina trips.

Anyway, I fully and completely understand your hesitation. I think, if used judiciously, it can be a force for good. After all, you control what is playing, and for how long. It will be made clear to my kids (4 and 2 - and one embryo!!!!!! shhhhhhhh) that the van screen is only for long trips, not every blasted time we get in the car.

But man, oh man, I am dying for that coolbox. That's momma's DVD player right there... No more tepid drinks on long trips... ;)

Jane Norton | 5:56 PM

We have one in our van. I thought it would keep my daughter entertained since she is always having to wait in the car when we pick her older brothers up from their activities. We used it a few times when we first got it but since then, we NEVER use it! We are always too busy talking or playing games and she never asks to watch it. She has more fun with the moon roof!

Marianna | 5:59 PM

I so totally agree with you! We are moving from New England to Florida in about a month, so I may be eating my words, but it seems like just another way to numb out our kids and stifle their original thinking/creativity. I also believe that even though you might have a few miserable trips, the kiddos will get used to the way things are and learn to entertain themselves. I sure did, even with no air conditioning and 50lbs of hot laborador retriever on my lap!

Anonymous | 6:02 PM

I'm completely with you. If we didn't have DVD players in cars all these years, why suddenly now are children just SO difficult that they require them, regardless of the length of the trip? I call shens. We drove from NJ to FL with the only entertainment being books, toys, music, and ourselves... and we were fine (ages 14, 10, and 8, so a bit older).

I recently read a blog post where the parent said something about how short trips in the car wasn't quality time and I found that so depressing because it really can be. Like you, I have great memories of family trips, be it 20 minutes to dinner or 3 hours to visit relatives. It's all quality and deserves better than zoning out.

Frances | 6:05 PM

I'm with you - some of my favourite childhood memories was the crazy singing (always Queen or Boney M in those days) and crazy made-up games in the back of the van. I'm one of 6 children and it was so much fun. :-)

My car is old (20 years old) and we could never afford a new one, so a built in TV will probably never happen here. But I refuse to even consider a portable DVD player for long journeys for my kids - I'm having too much fun teaching them the words to all the Queen and Boney M songs I know!

Jen | 6:18 PM

I am completely against the built in DVD. I think that the car is a good time to engage, and now that my daughter is a preteen, I have had the BEST conversations with her and her friends in the car - the lack of eye contact makes it much easier for them to talk openly. And I don't want to argue with my 7 year old about popping in a DVD for the 10 minute trip to the pediatrician. UGH. At the same time, I am a veteran roadtripper, and there comes a point in any trip where being LOOKED AT by your sister is a call to war, at which point I break out...the portable dvd player. They're $50 bucks at target, and only have a 3 hour battery, so watching them the whole vacation isn't even an option. They're only for when they really, really need a break, and stopping for a while just isn't an option.

Stephanie Bice | 6:24 PM

I'm undecided. We have two cars, and one has it and one doesn't. It comes in handy when we do go on longer trips, but honestly we don't use it much. And I love your "Don't make me pull this car over" reference. My husbands family used to do road trips when he was a kid, and I love hearing the stories about riding in the back with his two sisters and all the shenanigans that went along with long car rides. Nostalgia for sure.

Something else to consider- having 4 kids spanning like 5 years means when the little girls are 3 and wanna watch Princess-whatever-the-fuck, poor Archer (who will be 8ish) is gonna be like "Are you kidding me? I am subjected to this shit? So then there are arguments of "I don't wanna watch that" and "How come we always watch what (insert kids name here) wants to watch". Sometimes- NO TV IS GOOD.
Good Luck Sista.

Salli | 6:27 PM

Zomg I hate our dvd player!!
My hubby grew up in a 3rd world country and didn't even have a TV until he was 11 so now he wants TVs everywhere! BUT he doesn't like the kids (we have 4! aged 9, 5, 3, 1) to watch much TV at all - saying he had to use his imagination and they should too. Which I'm totally in agreeance with.
(Agreeance? Is that even a word?)

ANYWAY back to my loathing of the built-in DVD in the car! We fight with the kids all the time about it!
Every time we get in the car they whine about it even though they know it's only for long trips. (AND they're not even usually whiney kids!)
They all sleep well in the car and are fine when we put our foot down, they all get on with other things but EVRYTIME we get in the car? It's totally weird and gets exhausting having that initiaI fight with them. I definately wish it just wasn't even there!

Sal : )

Cydney | 6:28 PM

I absolutely hate the idea of a TV being in a car. I feel like a TV is for the home only. I hate that TVs are everywhere now.

Anonymous | 6:31 PM

We have a DVD player in our van. We bought the van used. And the DVD player has never worked. We would like it to work, but we have to get the money to fix it first. And it's not that important. I have no problem with movies during long car trips. We have used our laptop on trips. I do not like TV or movies when the trip is a quick one (an hour or so or less... did that make sense?) But when we went to Myrtle Beach from Pennsylvania, we let the kids watch movies. Not for any reason but for our sanity. Neither of our kids sit still very well. They both always always always have to be doing SOMETHING. So it buys us some time. Our toddler would get antsy after 30 minutes. If she was watching a movie, we would get a full hour and a half to 2 hours before we HAD to stop. Short of taking a week to get anywhere longer than an hour or two, I don't know what else to do. I have no problem with kids being bored, but if I can alleviate some of the drama associated with sitting around doing nothing for long periods of time, then so be it. They don't sit and watch TV nonstop at home, so I don't see the harm in having a less stressful car trip on vacation.

Melanie | 6:42 PM

I agree 100% - I am an old-school girl, make them play travel games and look out the window! I watched a lot of TV as a kid and now I am a lot more strict with my son's TV watching (or used to be, before my husband started watching a lot of it). If it were up to me, we'd probably not even have cable, just occasional DVDs. It makes me so happy to hear that other people are as lame as me about the TV!!

That said, my kid will read in the car for even a 3-minute ride - he sits down and immediately pulls out a book - so I guess he's using a sort of "screen" of his own for entertainment.

Helen | 6:42 PM

We had a portable dvd player purchased when we were flying between Australia and NZ a few times a year. Every single person on the plane thanked us, believe me!

I now use it on long car trips, or ones where I want the kids to behave when we arrive so they don't use up all their good behaviour in the car, or fight and turn up cranky.

I have no limits on my kids screen time, although we share one tv and computer so it's limited by demand alone. I find they self regulate, but I should point out the youngest is almost 4. Little ones can't self regulate like that.

robyn L | 6:44 PM

"Ten" came out when you were ten?! You just made me feel OLD! (I was almost 14.)

Anyway, I am vehemently against TVs in vans (or cars). It just seems so wrong, but I can't really list concrete reasons why. There's just something wrong with watching TV everywhere you go--in your car, on your phone, on your computer, on your ipad, on your TV.... Where does the living happen?

Of course, I may have to eat my words as my one-year-old gets older.

Mary | 6:54 PM

Heck no! I think kids these days are exposed to way too much TV/computer/ipad usage, to the point where it's stunting creativity and decreasing attention spans. Yes, they'll get bored...but that will foster creativity. When my sister and I were 12 and 14, we used to sing in harmony for hours on long car trips, often making up the harmonies as we went along. When we were younger, we used to read or have i-spy contests.

In fact, I would go so far to say that my generally tv-free upbringing helped pave the way for my career - in 6 short weeks, I'll be packing up and moving to England to pursue a master's degree in book conservation and book binding. Instead of working in front of a computer all day, I'll be fixing 500 year old books.

MelOnTheCape | 6:54 PM

Just because you have it, doesn't mean you have to use it. There is plenty of time on road trips for daydreaming, games, and the occasional "If I could reach you way the heck back there in your 3rd row seat!" We tend to use the DVD when the kiddos (twins - 7y.o. and babe 7 mos) are way tired and we want to have a little quiet time for everyone. We borrowed Popular Science Kids from the library last time - we all loved it and learned something on those long stretches of interstate. All the best. Cheers.

For the Love of Naps - Sarah | 6:56 PM

We have one we attach in the car when we go on long trips. It is not installed IN the car. If we were to get a new van with all the bells and whistles I would probably have one put in because rigging the one we have right now for our long drives is a pain and we 2 kids who watch right now and a third that will some day. I TOTALLY agree with all of your thoughts and if we only did the random big trip once or twice a year we would not need it. However, our grandparents are 4-7 hours away and we do the trip often and it gets a lot when we travel two weekends in a row. And I often do the drive with my three kids all by to put on a video for the second half of the ride is sometimes a safety thing. Growing up we did one 6 hour drive once a year and then an occasional cross country trip in my childhood. So WAY different than the amount of time my kids are exposed to the car rides. I COMPLETELY agree with the memories and the ability to enjoy just the family time. And every once in awhile I "forget" the movie player and I am all about proving we can do it. Do what is going to work for your family. Do what makes sense. I do think it is sad when it gets turned on for the short trips. I think the car is an excellent time to talk to your children. Heck, you literally have them strapped down! haha!

Anonymous | 6:56 PM

My husband-at-the-time and I drove from central California to northern Maine (yes, Maine is a state) with three little boys in the backseat of a station wagon. They were 9, 7 and 4 years old at the time.

I WISH we would have had a DVD player back there for them! The boys, being typical brothers, fought the whole bloody time! Still do, actually; and they're now 19, 23, and 25! LOL

It was July, so we were all hot and irritated to begin with. Their fighting didn't help, AT ALL! Seven days in the car... It was HELL!!!

Margie | 6:57 PM

I'm of two minds on this one for my family. My two year old is an only child, and we watch DVD's we borrow from the library, like Curious George and other PBS shows, on long rides on a portable DVD player we mash between the front seats of our sedan. Sometimes I worry that we put it on too much, but then she also is beginning to indicate she might be developing an ability to sometimes have it on and sometimes not ask to have it on, which seems like a good skill to help develop. However, I too have great car trip memories that I don't want to close the door on. Then again, on the recent 12 hour car ride we took just the three of us with a packed car, the DVD player was a saving grace when books and pipe cleaners and stickers and pens got old. She's only two and she's stuck in that huge car seat in the middle of the car, so I feel like it's a concession that is reasonable given her age and the very long trip we forced her to take. I hope as she gets older, though, and can read more and reach things better in the car, we will phase out the DVD player entirely. (Plus, she's currently in a phase of not wanting me to sing along to music - oh, two year-olds - which kills me (!), and limits road trip fun for now).

Margie | 7:03 PM

P.S. Thanks so much to you and the commenters for once again taking on a topic that is seen as a given for many (I so much agree that it is creepy how standard it is!), and asking out loud if it's really a good idea or not. That's one of the many reasons I come here!

Jenn | 7:06 PM

We said no to a DVD player in the van, but we do have a portable one. I didn't want to be asked if they could watch a show on the way to the store. My kids are great in the car and can actually go several hours without turning on a movie, so I may not be the one to express an opinion.

amyinbc | 7:09 PM

Hell no. I spent every second summer of my life smashed in the back of a station wagon with my parents and 5 siblings driving across Canada to visit the 'home land'. Not only would we all fought like mad to see OUR choice of entertainment we would have missed all the scenery!

I have 3 kids (2 of which are twins) and am looking for a new vehicle myself. An entertainment system? No bloody way.

Air conditioning? Hell yeah! We roasted on those 4 day long hauls.

//nancy | 7:12 PM

preach it. love this post, love your views. hooray for giving kids room to learn the lost art of imagination!

Anonymous | 7:16 PM

i have one that came standard in my truck. my kids can only watch it if we go on a long car trip (so like twice a year), otherwise it stays off. i like it for the long trip because i find their loudness very distracting and irritating while i'm driving (they're 8, 6, 4). maybe when they're older and can have convos at a normal decibel that doesn't include the constant use of the words "poop" and "fart", i won't use it even then...we'll see ;p

Kristina | 7:22 PM

No! We bought our Odyssey mini-van 5 years ago and did not get the DVD players and I truly think it is one of my best parenting decisions. We are huge fans of audio books and they help us through our long car trips. I've had lots of friends who say they are only going to use the DVDs on long trips, but a few months in the kids are always watching.

Keri | 7:32 PM

Noooooo! We are NOT a fan of vans nor TV in vans or any type of vehicle! My kids are GREAT on car trips. Sure, there are stressful moments but that's part of life...developing coping skills to deal with them. Audio books are our best kids love to listen to them as well as read in the car and play with their matchbox cars, etc.

My advice: DITCH THE TV. You can always use a laptop or iPad to show a movie or two on really LONG trips. That way, the TV is out of sight, therefore out of mind! If you get a TV that comes with the van, your kids are going to be crying for some screen time. Your choice on which issue you prefer to deal with on a regular basis:

* the crying for screen time


* the crying for taking so dang long to get to your designation/sibling fighting/etc.

Kimommy | 7:34 PM

I am with you, completely! Given, my son isn't even old enough to face forward in the car, but I hope I don't change my mind. Gazing out the window, believing the moon was following us (and only us) home, playing "punch-buggy" with my brother, singing along with my mom- some of my most cherished memories. I want my son to be able to not only endure the monotony (?) of the road but relish it.

Anonymous | 7:46 PM

no dvd car for me!
except for the trip from mount isa to adeliade, via alice springs (aus), 2 non stop days of NOTHING!
the car ride is part of the trip, so much fun to be had!

heather | 7:47 PM

So I used to be vehemently anti-TV in cars... before I had kids. Then I gave birth to a beautiful daughter who from Day 1 HATED car rides. I still get a knot in my stomach when I remember a three-hour car ride where she literally screamed every minute she was in her seat. Now she's 2 and tolerates them better then that, but she still doesn't sleep well in the car and generally gets bored and frustrated. We play, sing, talk, etc. but she's 2 and wants to run around. So long story short - we have a DVD player that straps onto the seat. We only bring it for trips longer than two hours and only Elmo videos (approx. 40 minutes). Yes, I have fond memories of car trips (I used to read aloud to the whole family) but I also have memories of being MISERABLE, and my parents and brother bring MISERABLE and everyone hating each other by the time we got to our destination. So the compromise of having a portable DVD player is that turning it on all the time isn't an option. My husband and I have also made a rule that the minute it becomes something we fight over/the kids whine about/etc. the DVD player gets put away. Period. We also have only one TV in the house and limit screen time. Everything in moderation.

Melt Momma's Heart | 7:50 PM

Our twins are 4 1/2. I always felt the same way about them that you do. Then my husband bought one before a ten + hour road trip last summer. I have to say, in a situation like that, I give them a thumbs up. They were landscape-i-spied-craft-and-snacked OUT after about hour six, so we pulled it out and averted disaster. We never use it around town and only pull it out when all else fails on shorter (2 hours typically...) road trips. So, if you set some boundaries with the things then I think they're probably okay.

vera | 7:59 PM

We have a DVD player in our SUV and love it... and it's DEFINITELY one of those things I was adamantly against before I had kids. We don't even have TV service at home right now, own no gaming systems, and are pretty anti-screen with our kids at home. Luckily they are just the kinds of kids who would rather climb trees anyway.

All I insisted on having in my truck was leather seats, and the only one they had on the lot with leather happened to also have a DVD player too, so that's what I got.

Well, it has really been a lifesaver, and I don't mind admitting that. We NEVER turn it on when we're going on shorter car rides (like less than a couple of hours). But my daughter has had six out of state surgeries, each of which required several trips back and forth - at 6 hours a trip each way. It's a boooring drive, especially for the hundredth time!

So, we usually make it 3 or 4 hours singing songs and talking and playing car games with the kids (3 of them), and then the little one takes a nap and the older ones watch a movie to help pass a couple of hours. I am SO glad they have that. Because, really, when I'm totally honest about all those great childhood backseat of the family station wagon road trip memories, after 3 or 4 hours, it was really just my brother and I ripping each other's hair out.

Anonymous | 8:04 PM


No TV in our van. Only one TV in the house. 4 kids (6, 5, and twins who turn 2 on Saturday)


The longest trip we've taken in the van was only 4 hours...and we only did it a handful of times. I can't say I wouldn't consider my options for a much longer trip.


PS I'll mention again how much I am enjoying your pregnancy posts. You look a m a z i n g and I'm so happy for you and your family.

Tricia | 8:06 PM

we travel a lot by car with our three kids, a daughter 9 and twin boys who will be 7 aug. 23rd(and have since they were all babies) and we absolutely, positively do not, nor have we ever, nor will we ever have tv in the car. we are currently in san jose vacationing from our home in torrance and the kids managed just fine. the last hour we pulled out the ds's but other than that we sang, talked, played car bingo and the abc game. i would perfer they actually see the beautiful scenery and hang with the family. of course it's just MHO.

Heather | 8:11 PM

Do you have any Calef Brown children's poetry books? One of my favorite of his poems is "TV Taxi" from the book Polkabats and Octopus Slacks. The poem ends with "nevermind the passing sights, there's nothing much to see" while the illustration shows a unicorn, an erupting volcano, a dancing leprechaun, and other fantastic things.

Anyway, we bought our Odyssey two years ago when our kids were 3 and 5 years old. We had to specially order our van because we wanted many of the bells and whistles but no "entertainment package". We drive from Norcal to Socal and back at least twice a year and the kids do just fine with books and toys and windows. Stay blissfully screen free and see the passing sights!

Dahnks | 8:23 PM

I hole heartedly agree with you. We are a one tv family and it is in the living room not anywhere near the bedrooms and you can barely see it from the kitchen/dining room.. When we eat at the dining table the TV is off. When we go to bed we don't watch tv to fall asleep. And when we go on road trips all you get is the radio(that i can of course plug my iPod into) and the scenery of the world passing by.

Anonymous | 8:33 PM

We have a portable DVD player that comes out ONLY on extended road trips, and in those situations, it's a lifesaver. The boys (3.5 and 2) get that it only comes out on long trips and never ask for it otherwise. They're not plugged in the whole time, just when things get dicey, when everyone is miserable and there are still hours to go. Curious George? Hell to the yes.

Like so many things (TV in general, junk food, etc.), we have limits and we enforce them consistently. It works.

lizz | 8:36 PM

We take at least one road trip a year and have never had a t.v./ dvd player along for the ride. We are all about singing classic rock ( Beatles, Zeppelin, Queen ) and just enjoying each other. We have never regretted not having some sort of boob tube.

Uncle David | 8:40 PM

Fuck yeah Ford Aerostar! Paula Abdul and Arizona hail for life!

kristin | 8:40 PM

We just bought a new van and went DVDless. We instead bought a portable dvd player with a dual screen that can play two different movies at the same time. The screens can be attached to the driver and passenger seats. It was $150 instead of the 1500 charged by the dealer. That way we bring it out only when we are desperate and we don't develop a dependence on it. Also, the kids can listen with headphones and we can listen to music. With a built in system you are stuck listening to the sound as it is played through the stereo system.

I am a fan of bored kids as I believe it inspires imagination but at the end of the day I need a break from the Alphabet game and 20 questions on the super long road trips.

Anonymous | 8:42 PM

we have 2 young sons ages 2 1/2 and 4, and a portable dvd player, only used on long road trips (3 hours plus). they never ask for it otherwise and they can be major boundary pushing whining about the colour of the sky kind of boys! it has been a real sanity saver when they're getting antsy and it's not appropriate to stop and stretch our legs. just because you have it really doesn't mean it has to always be on. good luck!

JCF | 8:45 PM

Our Odyssey is ten years old, so we don't currently have one. We regularly drive 12 hours from Nor Cal to Phoenix to visit family, and the kids stay occupied by sleeping, talking, reading, singing, playing with small toys, etc. We have a lot of children's book apps on the iPad, and we plug it in to the stereo system and put the books on auto play, making them just like audio books as far as the kids are concerned (but they're a lot cheaper).

We plan on replacing our van with a newer one (but still used--maybe 2009 or so) in the next year or so, and I've been warned by several friends that it is basically impossible to find a newer used minivan WITHOUT a DVD player. If that is the case, and we end up with one, we'll limit it to one movie per trip probably. Otherwise, we won't use it around town or for other shorter drives.

Kait | 8:51 PM

Our vehicle came with one, which was fine with me. We use it sometimes. Funnily enough, we tend to rent vehicles for long car rides and we never get one with movies. Our girls (3 and 5) have been amazing about amusing themselves on long car rides with no movies. But it's also nice to know the option is there when we're all at the end of our rope and stuck in traffic.

Bella | 8:52 PM

We tried a portable car video player but my daughter gets carsick VERY EASILY and kept barfing, so that was the end of movies in the car.

My 2 kids often fought on car trips until we discovered audio books! We would check them out of the library and the kids were quiet as long as the stories were on. We mixed up classics with contemporary fiction. They would even stay in the car to finish the story despite arriving at our destination.

I am glad we abandoned the videos and switched to audio books. They are 16 and 18 now and love to read.

Becky | 8:53 PM

I am with you, Rebecca. No DVD player in our minivan. we have driven to Quebec and back, and down to North Carolina and back, as well as frequent trips to PA (a mere 4 hours) without one (we live in MA).
I have no intention of enabling my kids to be brain numbed every time they get in the car. In fact, our family recently got rid of our home TV in an effort to improve the habits of our 4 yr old son, though honestly, my husband tunring it on all the time was more of a problem than anything else. we have been delighted to find we all spend time together as a FAMILY now, instead of vegging out. My husband has said repeatedly he wishes we had done it sooner. AND, now a movie on the laptop is considered a very special treat.
So no, I am not one to advocate for a DVD player in the car. Stay strong! I am also in my third pregnancy and know it will take some resolve on my part not to give in when I have THREE kids whining all at once in my backseat :-)

AndreaB | 8:59 PM

We dont have a car that came with screens for our 2 children. We bought some that attach to the front headrests, and we have a love/hate relationship with them. (Our children are 2 and 3)

For a while, the DVD players are nice because we get some peace and quiet, and the kids seem happier in the car. The DVDs are also good when one child is napping, and the other child is less squawky with a DVD on.

.....But after about a week, it begins to get problematic... I notice that my children gradually become very picky about what they want to watch. They dont want to watch certain DVDs, and are frustrated when they realize it's the same ones over and over. It seems like their expectations get higher and higher (at one point, my daughter didnt want to watch Gnomeo and Juliet anymore...she wanted me to just fast forward to the songs in the movie) They also get angry when we get to our destination and the video stops. This is when the DVDs become more trouble than they are worth.

I usually reach the point where I take the DVD players out of the car and I keep it that way for 2+ months. Usually the kids are unhappy about it for a few days, and then they forget about it.

Perhaps get the new car without the DVD players. And if you want to buy a set later, you can attach them to the headrests. That way, you have the option of taking them out of the car if you dont like them (and out of sight, out of mind for the kids).

katie | 9:02 PM

We have one 13 inch television in our house that gets very little attention...BUT! We take a 90 minute ferry and drive 17 hours every summer and we do pull out the travel dvd player for those trips! We have a Yaris and it is definitely not "high tech", they are strapped to the back of the headrests. My 3 and 7 y/o watch it about half the time during these roadtrips. As soon as we are home it disappears! Short trips up island (3/4 hours) don't get the dvd player! So what I am saying is that they definitely have a time and place for being useful! They saved my sanity this summer!

Beth | 9:20 PM

Oh My! Literally had this conversation with my mom yesterday. We just bought a brand new vehicle and my mom (the grandma) said "does it have a DVD player?" Oddly making me feel like I am not providing for my two-year-old. There is a commercial like this were the kid is trapped in the back while his parents are singing. My kid is going to be that tortured kid. Because I love him.

writermom | 9:25 PM

We didn't add a DVD system to our minivan when we purchased it last year, so I guess we are weirdsmobiles, too. We've used those portable wraparound thingies for longer trips...for emergency purposes or to pop in a movie as a special "treat" after a lunch stop or whatever. That way, there's still plenty of opportunity to make all those great memories you mention. We don't have TVs in the kids' bedrooms, either. I just don't think it needs to be that readily available. Frankly, I'm so tired of the ways we've become disconnected from each other, noses buried in iPhones or Facebook (as I sit here surfing my blogs). With all the modern technologies/gadgets/whatsits available, I feel our ability to interact in meaningful ways with the people we love (even our own children) has suffered. But maybe I'm just a crazy Luddite. TEAM UNPLUGGED!!!

Anonymous | 9:27 PM

We have one and the rule is that my 3-year-old is only allowed to watch it while her 1-year-old brother is sleeping. Sometimes the only way I can get him to nap is a car ride, and the only way I can get her to stay quiet during those rides is with a movie. I can't talk to her much (for fear of waking him) and it's unfair to drag her around and bore her with long rides. This is a special treat for that :)

cora d | 9:28 PM

We said hells to the yes with just one kid. Aggie's car riding threshold is 2 hors which gets us nowhere we want to be. Our destinations are 4 hours away usually. And she's under 2 years old, so her imagination is just starting to blossom.

But we say no to the DVD sometimes and generally she's ok with it. Don't have to use it all the time. We'd do books but both the spouse and I get car sick easily.

Though heed my warning, do not let the DVD player run out of charge 30 min from home.

Mama Bub | 9:30 PM

We have a DVD player in our van, but I mostly ignore it. I've used it... twice? in fourteen months. So, it's totally a desperate times sort of thing. The car is the one place that my son sits still and can entertain himself just by looking out the window and singing songs. I absolutely don't want to turn it into a battle about which Yo Gabba Gabba episode we're going to watch on the way to Target.

Gilsner | 9:31 PM

I couldn't agree more! I think it's so sad that kids can barely go from home to school, and back again, without TV. Whatever happened to playing license plate games and daydreaming while staring out the window, watching the world pass by? Instead of movies why aren't we giving kids books and music and good old-fashioned conversation to pass the time? I fear for a future generation raised more by media than moms and dads.

Shauna | 9:40 PM

I do not have one, never want one, for all the reasons you listed! I have some friends who use them on ALL car rides, as soon as their kids are buckled in their car seats their on, and that just seems a little extreme to me. I just like my kids interacting (even if they're fighting!) with me and each other during car rides, not watching shows or movies like zombies. We've taken 9 hour car rides even when they were babies and it really wasn't that bad. I also have only one TV in my house, and if it wasn't for my husband I don't even think I'd have that. I grew up with no TVs in the bedroom, in fact we pretty much only slept, read, changed clothes, or went to our rooms only when we wanted alone time. We were never kids who just hung out in our rooms all day. Even when we all had friends over, we all just hung out in the living room, dining room, kitchen area and entertained ourselves. I am getting sort of off subject, but I just want to say I don't think it's weird for you to not want a TV. I always figure if I REALLY need one, I can bring a portable DVD player. I guess I just like that the temptation isn't always there!

ChefSara | 9:45 PM

I agree with you. We just got an oddysey touring elite, and would have gotten it without the entertainment package if it had been available. But, like another person said, just cause you have it doesn't mean you have to use it. My three year old doesn't even know it exists. An we plan to keep it that way. He loves his magna-doodle (he calls it his drawing board, which cracks me up for some reason) and entertains himself with that and with singing sings and telling stories. Seriously, the kid never shuts up! And it's great. I hear about who he plays with at school, his fbirite games, and where the monsters are. Our one-sided car conversations are a great insight into what's going on in hi mind. I would hate to give that up.

ESwanson | 9:48 PM

Hmm, I'm going to take the other side on this one. I have a one-year old who still has to sit facing the back of the car. He has designated car toys, but on long car rides, he burns out on those pretty quick. I think the DVD in the car is okay, particularly when they are really little and have to face the back of the seat. I mean, wouldn't you be bored and pissed if you had to stare at the back of the seat for 3-4 hours straight? It's not like I play porn on the thing. I have a nice little collection of PBS shows (Word World, Super Why, Dinosaur Train), so I don't see a problem with it.

Anonymous | 9:50 PM

Hmmm, all the pro-comments promise DVDs are only shown on road trips. So, are there really parents who turn on a show for errands around town? Are they ashamed to admit it? Do they not read this blog? I want somebody to post, "He'll yeah! My brats watch tv 24/7!"

I once knew a mom who had her iPhone set up with tons of Sesame Street episodes and headphones, and she gushed to me how she was able to take her three-year-old everywhere, grocery, on walks, out to lunch, and he just spent the whole time watching tv. Gag! Talk about lost opportunities.

-Erin K.

Anonymous | 9:58 PM

I'm totally anti...I gave the same speech to my hubster that you laid out here. Roadtrip + boredom = imagination. But...just because you have one, you still can control how much its used. I can see using it for roadtrips, but it drives me crazy when I hear of people using them for the ride to school, the store, etc. (And by people I totally mean my husband who jimmy-rigged a dvd player into his truck. sigh.)

Anonymous | 10:12 PM

I drive a 2006 Dodge Caravan with a tapedeck (super sweet) and no DVD/TV...what have you. My kiddos are 5, 3 & 1. We just got back from a family roadtrip driving from NorCal to Wisconsin. My kids are not TV watchers and we had a blast playing I spy, car dance parties & our own versions of cheesy road trip games. I never had a TV in the van growing up, so not necessary!

Anonymous | 10:15 PM

I work in a daycare sometimes and I have heard parents say that they will leave their kid in the car with a DVD playing on the TV to run into the post office/bank. Um, the DVD player is not a babysitter. I have a portable DVD player that I got for road trips/ferry trips/plane rides. My son loves to go to grandma's house with a movie on but often loses interest halfway and would rather read (he has a big bag of books in the car). I did find the DVD thing SUPER useful for the airplane trip we did because he was still for the trip and he is never very still as a wiggly, high energy, want to run and jump and climb boy. How about books in the car if you don't have carsick kiddos? Or a bag o' books/car toys/crayons/art tray things? AND what about those handheld video game things? What's the attitude there? I see so many kids at restaurants or EVEN the library playing those (while mom says, "You will lose DS privileges if you don't pick three, not comics, books to read this month.")

Shasta | 10:20 PM

No no no, can I get a hell no? I have a major problem with the TV invasion. TVs in the produce department of neighborhood grocery store, TVs in Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf, TVs at the bank, TVs in the car and now via mobile phone. The last thing we all need is to have our few and precious moments of silence taken away. Quiet time is important for kids too, everyone is overstimulated these days.

Unknown | 10:38 PM

no way, homie. kids' brains are rotted enough without tv in the car. we hardly use our tv at home, our son gets a few hours on the weekend to watch something on netflix or pbs. none of us watch tv on "school nights" and we don't have cable, not even the $10 one. just bunny ears and netflix.

KateFitz | 10:45 PM

I've used them. And thanked my lucky stars. I don't think it's a good idea to zone them out 98% of the time obvy but for melt downs on long trips. Sign me up. Sign me up twice.

When I (by myself)went on a 10+hour trip with my kiddo (2) and my nieces (2 and 4)it saved my ass. It stopped the screaming...the one could sleep bc someone was always screaming screaming.

I know Pioneers crossed the prairies with nary and ipad to update their facebook. Call me lazy/bad Mama whose raising unimaginative children. I played 5 episodes of sesame street back to kept me from getting a migraine/crying from helplessness. Better living through technology yo!

K├Ąthe | 11:00 PM

TV, no way. Look out the friggin window, read a book, pull your sisters' hair. C'mon!

But, hold on, honey, are you seriously preggers with twins in this video? No way. I'm calling this pre taped.

Wendy | 11:26 PM

We ended up with a DVD player in our car, not by choice. It came as part of the options package that I really, really wanted. We didn't use it for the first few years we had it-what toddler needs to watch DVDs every time they are in the car??? But occasionally on longer car rides we will rent a DVD from the library for one or more of the kids to watch. Actually, when the car was new, I just remembered, we went camping 6 hours away. My husband made me drive for a few hours (not my favourite thing on unknown roads) so he could watch a Star Trek movie on the DVD player in the back seat!

I could definately do without it, but I couldn't do without my reverse sensing system! Or my heated seats in the winter. So, the DVD came along for the ride.

Anonymous | 11:39 PM

Even though you have 66 opinions at this point, here is one more from a mommy of 5. Long time ago when my now 15 year old and 13 year old were little like 5 and 7 maybe, we had a van with a tv/video player and it was fun for a short time then it was just another thing for me to police and set limits on. I wanted to listen to music more, I wanted them to listen to music more. I know they have now solved the issue of having the personal headphones for kids and separate speakers for the folks up front but I still think it's just a drag having them be able to distract them through whatever they may think is boring. This is why I've never given any of my kids a hand held video game and if I can give you a strong piece of advise DO NOT EVER BUY THEM A HAND HELD VIDEO GAME! Long time ago we didn't have any video games in the house and my husband fought me on it and finally won that battle... he is often sorry he won that battle. I do like the kinects for xbox or WII but I could live without the rest. My kids do not have a single violent video game and can only play on weekends. Anyway I digress hand held video games are the devil and I've seen kids at dinners and other social situations tuned out on those things and they suck the life out of kids. Movies in your car is just another place for them to disengage from talking, music, scenery, games, connecting. If we are headed out for a long road trip I mean 5 hours or more we bring in the portable DVD player with headphones and let them watch one movie and usually that thing comes in handy on our trip when little ones and big ones want to watch different things. Anyway I fully back your decision you will never regret it. In the car you have a captivated audience- that's pure gold to a parent with lots of kids. INtroduce them to books on tape in the car and great music. Those times when a kid is crying or acting up sometimes we break into song and pretty soon everyone is singing even the cool older boys have been known to soothe a baby with a song. It's not so bad being bored sometimes the best games are invented from sheer boredom.

Anonymous | 11:55 PM

I personally want my kids to be bored like I was on road trips and wholeheartedly agree with not having a tv in the minivan. BUT... we did break down and get portable DVD players for a recent long plane trip with two 18 month olds -- so who knows if I'll change my mind one day.

I DO want to give you some unsolicited car-buying advice, however. Please no eye rolling. Just check out Fighting Chance. It's a kick-ass way to investigate the real cost of your car and all the dealer incentives they don't tell you about, and then have dealers give you their best offer via email or phone without you even having to go in and haggle. I've done it with three cars in my life to date, as have many, many people I know. And it's only like $30 for the info. packet and phone support if you need it. I'm not affiliated with them in any way, just think it's such a smart way to save $ and avoid dealership headaches and anxiety. You can seriously save thousands of dollars be educating yourself so that the dealer doesn't have info. that you don't.

The Green Goat | 11:59 PM

I am right there with you on this one. We just bought our first minivan and went on our first (small) road trip in it. My favorite moments from the whole trip, were when we were in the car driving. We played a ton of games. Some we made up. Some were from when I was a kid. It was awesome. I say "no way" to the TV. We don't do TV at home either for the same reasons. I love the little people that my kids are becoming as a result.

Lori | 12:10 AM

When we drove from Turkey to Belgium, we took a portable dvd player with us for my daughter, and I was happy to have the distraction for her, she was only two at the time, and I don't think she was old enough to understand what she was seeing. The thing about having a portable dvd player, versus one that is always there, is that she is only allowed to use it when WE put it in the car, and it is never there for short trips, or after school. We also don't let her watch it for a long time, we let her listen to music with us, and we all talk together about where we are as well (now that she is older this is much easier :-)).

laura | 12:23 AM

i grew up in a competitive 90s suburb. my mom had a sweet 1990 gmc van tricked out with two radios (and a headphone jack at every seat) and a 13inch crt tv/vcr in back (that the headphone jacks could also link to). i dont think it had much relevance in town, since we were less than a ten minute drive from everything (and i remember whining to stay in the car until an episode ended) but i think it was a godsend on the long roadtrips we used to take.

Aimee | 12:46 AM

Personally, I think it's a bit odd. What happened to day dreaming while you stared out the window of an endless freeway? They will grow up soon enough and want to text their friends the entire time anyway. Might as well, stave off the connection with technology for a bit.
Of course, this is all pre-baby. Talk to me next summer. It might be a whole different story :)

Lise | 1:04 AM

I wouldn't want a TV in my car, for all the reasons you've mentioned. We took many road trips with our four kids, and some of my fondest memories come from those hours of being in the car together. We did listen to a lot of books on tape, but that was more of a shared experience than a movie would have been. We ALL listened, we talked about the book, and the kids played and drew pictures and looked out the window while listening. The kids were often eager to get back on the road after lunch stops so we could turn the tape back on.

Pauline | 1:51 AM

We have one but we bought the vehicle used and it was just an included bonus. That being said, we only let her watch tv in the car on what we refer to as special occasions. She asks every time we get in if she can watch but I'm not about to let her think that thing is going to be on for the five minute drive to school. I have a friend who let's her 5 year old watch all the time, but it's educational stuff only. She swears that the sight words DVD she let's him watch to and from school have played a major part in his leaning to read.
I should also mention that we are huge readers at home but have had to throw away more than one book on the road due to car sickness. Kiddo can't read in a moving vehicle. Which means special occasions happen a little more often than I care to admit.

Ann Lienemann | 2:52 AM

We don't have tvs but I have heard from other parents that their kids want to watch tv every time they are in the car and it turned into a huge daily nightmare just to run to the store

elizabeth | 3:53 AM

i completely agree with you. whenever i am in the car with my daugther we tell wild stories to each other, sing or she brings a basket of those german plastic animals and makes up a story about them. If we had a tv in our car, those moments would never happen and i'm sure her language skills wouldn't be nearly as developed as they are now.

imagine the fights that would occur over when you could watch the tv? because i certainly wouldn't allow it every time we got in the car, only on long long long trips. i mean long. but my daughter would know it was there and so every car trip would begin with a negotiation or fight. no thank you. I will soon have two daughters and i can't wait to hear the stories and songs they will make up with each other.

plus who doesn't love the quiet game for those tough moments? I'm personally a pro at it.

Sarahenc | 4:58 AM

We got one instaled from Best Buy bc my husband HAD to have one. Have a 1 yr old and a 3 yr old so I'd rather answer a million ?'s than have them stare at the screen. Don't use it too often though. It's great to have when needed though!

Julie | 5:26 AM

I'm with you. He'll NO!

Anonymous | 5:32 AM

I completely agree with you! We recently took an 11 hour road trip with our 16 month old. Before we left I asked all my friends in Facebook-land for any suggestions on keeping him busy, and I was annoyed that getting a DVD player was the consensus. Um, no? I feel this way for many of the same reasons you do. Plus, I didn't have tvs in the car when I was a kid and we survived so damnit my kid can survive too! I just feel like it's one of those things parents feel like they are supposed to do - get their kids a car tv to make the trip "more bearable."

Chantel | 5:41 AM

After a few road trips, we did invest in a dual-screen DVD player for our vehicles. It's portable, meaning we can keep it in the carrying case when not in use (and we only use it about 3 times per year, on long road trips). My situation may be different since my son is autistic, but I'd like to think that we're just sticking with a normal routine for the sake of everyone's sanity. We offer plenty of reading, drawing/coloring, interactive materials and games as well as tons of music and the DVD player only comes out on a rare occasion (same as at home).

That being said, I'm very opinionated about integrated "entertainment systems" being used for a jaunt to the grocery store. To me, that's just unnecessary. I don't like the idea of television parenting or pacifying our kids simply because we'd rather not deal with a tantrum. How else do will they learn appropriate coping skills?

Melanirae | 5:42 AM

I hate commenting when there are so many cuz it feels sort of pointless, but since I have an awesome van/ tv story I'm breakig my rule.

It was the mid 80s. The mini van was not on the scene quite yet. We had a an old school, child molester's van. Two captins chairs in front, two in back and a couch that folded out into a bed. My mom made curtains for the windows that didn't open. My step-dad, a tech nerd built a small tv stand that also housed a VCR player. You could say we were the pioneers of the in vehicle entertainment system. We brought along all the movies he had illegally duplicated with our second VCR (I'm tellling you, we were a family of trendsetters) which we warned between hours of playing travel connect four and yatzee. My mom also had the wherewithal to install a curtail between the back and front of the van so we could have the light on to read and color long after the sun had set. All of this made our health treks across the US, not only bearable for all, but fun and very memorable. As long as the tv is punctuation, not the whole sentence it can be just as valuable as a blurry landscape. Please excuse typos-sent from iPhone as I peer through foiled hair

Heather | 5:59 AM

We are a one TV household and it get turned on for maybe 30 minutes a day for the kids (sadly, I can't live with out my SYTYCD & True Blood). So TV isn't a big part of our day-to-day lives.

That said, we have a DVD player in our van and I wouldn't part with it for anything. We travel a lot because we have family all over the place and my 3 year old hates being in the car. Loathes it like no one else I know, so that DVD player has saved my sanity more times then I can count.

We do have rules around it though- it doesn't get turned on for anything less then a 1 drive, for example. On long road trips, we'll usually play a movie and then take an hour break from the DVD player to give the kids quiet time.

Good luck!

lola + oliver | 6:01 AM

I'm with you, Rebecca, in saying HELL NO. The idea of giving kids such PASSIVE ways to entertain themselves (by simply staring at a screen) while riding in the car is upsetting to me. Like Marianna said, it's inhibiting their creativity and imagination by encouraging them to just veg out and do nothing.

(Of course, I don't have a single TV in my house at all, besides an old computer screen that we use to watch movies... so I'm already a little "extreme" you could say.)

But... also, as you said Rebecca, there may be times to change your tune a little. Bringing a portable DVD player for a long road-trip ride might just save everyone's sanity... and I'm all for that!

Honestly, I think the real problem is that is is STANDARD in minivans now. The fact that it is there makes it easier to take advantage of... and easier to become dependent on... and pretty soon we'll all be driving around with DVDs playing all day. What a sign of the times that is, eh?

Katie | 6:05 AM

A-MEN, sister...I couldn't have said it better myself. Truly. You just expressed every opinion I have on this subject. My 19-month-old nephew can't even EAT without the television on to distract him. He can't go to sleep, calm down from a tantrum, or sit at a restaurant table without a Baby Einstein DVD in front of him. How sad is that?! I wasn't allowed to watch TV during the week all through middle and high school, and I think I have a better brain because of it.

Anonymous | 6:11 AM

Boredom doesn't always sprout from having nothing to do. People can get bored from reading a book, shopping, writing, and watching television.

Your reasoning for not wanting your children to watch television in the car started with saying it's because that is a fantastic time for family interaction. Had you stopped there, I would completely agree with you.

My issue with your post isn't televisions in vehicles; it's wanting your children to make (and embrace) the same memories you did.

As parents, we (and I'm including myself in this statement) tend to want our children to cherish the same type of memories that we do. For example, my mom used to love New Years. We'd have a huge party at our house, because that's what her parents did when she was growing up. She continued this tradition because she wanted us to have the same enjoyable memories.

Newsflash for my mom, I hated having so many people over on New Years. I thought it was ridiculous that we couldn't just hang out as a family, instead of pulling in 50 of their closest friends. So, I do have memories of those New Years parties, however, they are on the opposite side of the spectrum that my mom had hoped for.

Just because you have fond memories of family trips (without a DVD player) does not mean your children will.

BobbyBaby | 6:27 AM

im with most of the comments here - moderate usage.
we have 2 small kids, 1 tv in the house, and beside that no other screen.
but we do have a portable dvd player that goes in car only for long hours rides. just this summer, we had a situation were it was a lifesaver. after very long ride, we had to wait on one of the state borders for few hours (europe; summer time jams). also we got to wait unexpectedly for a ferryboat for 2 hours. it was raining, nowhere to go nearby, all word/drawing etc games already played over and over. that's when dvd portable came in :)
i dont think dvd built in will raise your van's price afterwards significantly though. and you can always add a dvd portable later in life.

agirlnamedmel | 6:47 AM

no way. I bought a brand new Honda Pilot in 2005 and I made sure it had everything except the navigation system and TV. I can do without both. I felt like once a tv was in the car, the kids would want it on all the time and would become a battle. I'm not into that. I love long drives and observing what's around me and I want my kids to appreciate that too.

KneuroKnut | 6:53 AM

I couldn;t agree with you more. I think I am the only Mom I know who does not have a DVD player in the car. You wouldn't believe how many people have offered to lend me a portable one when they find out we are going somewhere. With kids and no video. It's like they can't even wrap their heads around it. We chose not to do it for exactly the reasons you mentioned. The TV is like a mental soother - just pop it in to shut them up. (Having said that, I am not opposed to actual soothers.) We do use the cd/books from the library and my three year old daughter loves turning the pages and listening to the reading. We figure it's entertaining her but she isn't unplugged in the same way.

Sidenote: I saw a little girl in the grocery store last week, sitting in the cart with a mini DVD player propped on her lap. While the mother shopped, made food choices, looked at prices...all the things kids need to learn about, she instead watched a movie. OMG.

Fight the good fight :)

k | 6:58 AM

I was completely anti-tv in the car, until i realized that every summer we make (at least) one 8 hour drive, and every other summer we make a 14-16 hour drive to vacation. With our little one still facing back (she is 18 months), we decided to invest in a portable DVD player. I can tell you it definitely made the road trip much more tolerable for all. We do have some rules though, she is not allowed to watch DVD's on regular car trips to the grocery store and such. The DVD player is strictly for rides that take longer than 2 hours. Even during our long vacation drives we still took breaks from the DVD and went an hour or two without it.
To sum it up, I definitely think they are a worthy investment (especially with 4 kids!), but remember that you have all the power and there is no reason they need the tv all the time!
Good luck with your decision!

Kim | 7:07 AM

Another thing to consider....your older kids are going to be enough older than the younger twins that they are NEVER going to be happy watching the same things. Could be the source of constant agruments. Personal DVD players keep getting smaller and smaller and cheaper and cheaper. You could always buy a few down the road if you change your mind.

Olivia Singleton | 7:14 AM

Whenever I see a TV playing in a car, I always say to myself, "Remember the days when a kid could drive ten minutes to the grocery store and not have to be entertained by television?" I definitely see your point.

Nakia | 7:21 AM

I bought one of those portable dvd players to keep in the car a few years back when I agreed with the "zone your kids = awesome!" idea.

I'm glad the damn thing broke. The crazy dependency on all things electronic: TV's, video games (especially the cursed Nintendo DS) are just mind boggling. The more my son has, the more obsessed he gets.

TV is definitely something that we only need at home. And even there, we don't need much of it.

ashley d! | 7:21 AM

i 20348023% agree with you!! it seems like those parents that have the entertainment system just don't want to deal with their kids questions or talk to them. they want to shove a video in their face to make them shut up.

Kelsey G | 7:24 AM

I can see how they would be helpful on long trips for the kids to sort of calm down and relax... but an everyday thing... no way jose.
My 4 year old niece relies on that thing when they come to visit from Northern California. I sort of think its a brain washing thing because she literally watches the same show/movie over and over. It's probably not too educational and it really does not get her mind going. Although, I was surprised because the last time they came into town she actually mentioned the zoo that smelled really bad on the ride (the cow farm). I thought that was hilarious and kind of cute. Maybe if she was watching her show she would not have noticed the foul smell and would have totally missed that experience that she we probably remember everytime they travel.
I would never get one because I would actually enjoy talking/singing/playing with my kids on long drives... and short drives, forget it. Talk to your kids and just teach them things about life.

Anonymous | 7:27 AM

I am so glad to hear someone else say it! We get a lot of flack for not just getting a dvd for the car already. 3 kids- 6, 4, 1 1/2- yes they scream once in awhile on a road trip, but you would miss out on watching clouds, i'm going on a vacation and bringing, eye spy, etc etc. Like you, I hated the time in the station wagon as a kid- but now, now- that time with my brother is the part of the vacation I remember most fondly. My favorite? My dad would eventually break down and just swing his arm at us in the back seat blindly to get us apart while yelling I'm driving up a mountain here, don't make me pull off it! My bro and I were notorious for stop touching me, he is looking at me weird, etc. Oh- and loved choose your own adventure books for car trips. Good times. Best of luck!!!

Erin | 7:27 AM

No TV in our car either. How are imaginations supposed to grow when we constantly entertain our kids??

benandsherie | 7:28 AM

We regretted almost immediately buying the entertainment system for our Odyssey. Here's why: the upgrade for this was about $2K more at the time we bought (2008) and about $2K more for the Navigation package. We drove off the lot and realized: Duh! we just spent $2K for a dvd player...and if anything ever breaks on it, we will have to pay a dealer to fix it. It will quickly be outdated by the next shinier model, reducing our eventual resale value. We wondered why we did not just buy our girls individual iPads or portable players...less fighting over whose show to watch and much less $ to obtain and maintain. We somehow realized the same about the NAV system and did not buy that, but did go with the DVD. That said, we use it. It's fine, but we would not buy it again. SAve your $. Individual units for all!

chisparoja | 7:31 AM

I completely agree with you. I mean, how much TV/electronic stimulation do these kids need?? We drive down the east coast at least once a year (12-14 hours in the car) so we bring a portable dvd or ipod or ipad or what have you so that the kids can watch a movie somewhere along the way. I understand how kids can be crazy in the car, but come on, are we really such lazy parents that we need to depend on electronics rather than teach and rear our children?

Anonymous | 7:35 AM

Maybe I'm just old fashioned. I grew up going on road trips with my folks, long ones, 15+ hours. Yes, it was only me and my brother and yes sometimes we fought like siblings do, even still. When I got older, I brought my walkman (remember those!!?)and listened to music or read books. But most of the time we looked out the window, played card games, and we used to have these lap desks to draw and brought coloring books.

I just feel so - so - so against the idea of having TV in the car. I'm not a fan of having too much TV period (while I love my few shows and adore films) - it teaches distraction (which a lot of commenters are using as a pro point). I guess I feel that learning to make it work, to cooperate to compromise, to deal with boredom, to increase the imagination, everything you said Rebecca, is of greater value. Will it make you and Hal crazy? It's possible :)

Bless with a Boy | 7:40 AM

I only had/have one son. (he is 19 1/2) When he was growing up we didn't do the DVD thing. We used that time to talk and enjoy each others company. But then we didn't often travel more than 3 hours at a time. If I had 4 kids I might change my mind. haha

Billie | 7:48 AM

I am definitely a fan! The kids don't watch tv at home so it's a novelty in the van. They can only watch when the drive is at least an hour and we have equal tv time to not tv time. We do the same for plane rides. We travel a lot and always have kids eager for traveling as well as happy while traveling!

The Irish and the Jew | 8:12 AM

I'm a little late to the party... have 3 kids (12, 10 and almost 7) and so I missed out on the whole DVD-player-is-standard-in-the-mini-van thing. Mine doesn't have one and I only just bought my first portable DVD player when we took an unexpectedly awesome roadtrip to DC for spring break. They watched it on and off through the trip but mostly they read, played cards and looked out the window so they could say they've "seen" 5 more states. It hasn't been missed in our house and I gotta say, we only have 1 TV in our house, too. Caveat: we have a Wii system and 3 DSI players, all of which are like crack and I'm for sure the pusher. Perfect, I am not.

Shannon | 8:23 AM

we have one. The last time we used it was on a road trip that was 12+ hours of driving each way. They are actually not that into it and do prefer to play or look out the window, until it gets dark. That is when they ask for it. I have used it on occasion when coming home from the beach late in the afternoon to keep my 4 year old from falling asleep. If he crashes out at 3PM he is up until midnight. It has saved me a few times in that regard, but honestly we could live without it.

kristofer and ivy | 8:45 AM

I absolutely agree with your thoughts on boredom as a gateway to creativity, and I LOVE encouraging/teaching/helping my kids discover that they can MAKE fun for themselves.

We do have a DVD player in the car though, and it was our one MUST HAVE feature when we shopped for a minivan earlier this year. ('07 Nissan Quest) My kids are 4, 2 and 3 mos. Long trips in the car SUCK for them. They're constantly restrained (car seats) and anything over an hour gets pretty uncomfortable. I'm totally okay with bringing a couple DVDs with us to distract them when they start to lose it.

We save the car TV for an occasional treat and for long drives (like, 2+ hours); it's not always on. As they age, we'll push them more toward other fun in the car. Until they're tall enough to see out the windows, though...

Angela | 8:48 AM

I'm totally with you on the idea that kids need to learn how to entertain themselves when in a boring situation. We have friends that pull out the portable DVD player at restaurants. That is ridiculous. Kids need to learn how to behave at restaurants and be a part of what is going on around them, not zone out from the world. However, if it comes standard, I wouldn't turn it down. You are the boss. You set the rules. If the kids ask for the TV on a short trip down the street, just say no. We just spent 3 weeks traveling with our 3.5 yr old and 14 mth old and the portable DVD player saved us a few times from nervous breakdowns. We used it when the baby was sleeping and we wanted my older boy to quiet down. We used it when they were freaking out and we only had 45 minutes left in the car and just wanted to motor through and get to our destination. Otherwise, when my son asked for it, he got a HECK NO!

I get the whole wanting to use the time in the car to talk and be all Swiss Family Robinson/Brady Bunch, but that is not reality. The reality is some days the crying, whining, screaming, and flailing never stops and you have 28 things to do and you've been running errands since 8am and you're trying to get home to cook dinner but you're stuck in traffic and your husband calls to say he'll be at work late and all you want is 20 MINUTES OF SILENCE. Enter the TV. Ahhhh....

Sarah | 8:49 AM

I have 4. They are now 9, 11, 13 and 15, and have never yet travelled with screens in the car. They love books on tape, reading, and yes, mad libs. We joke that they are the only children in modern america who play the license plate game on road trips any more. All to say, I'm right there with you - stay strong!

Lindy | 9:05 AM

Put me in the "Oh hellz no!" camp. We have been on regular, 20-hr drives (broken up over two days) with our kids (2 and 4) and don't need to resort to that. In fact, we're a 90% TV-free family even when we're not rollin' down the highway. Games, music, wordplay, napping, stopping to run around and play tag or pick some clovers at a rest stop (and make clover chains in the car)... it's much better than zonking 'em out with the boob toob.

Dani | 9:16 AM

when we moved out to Edmonton from Ontario with the army we had a 5 day drive with an almost 2 year old staring us down. We used some of the money the army gave us for driving ourselves and bought a 2 screen portable system for the car. I don't know how else we would have survived that one. That being said we took them out when we got here and a year later haven't used them again. I like having ones that can be put in for insanity like 5 day trips, but then tuck away in a closet for everyday stuff/shorter day trips etc.

Charm | 9:28 AM

I'm an Australian child of the eighties and the eldest in a family of four kids that travelled 12 hours each way four times a year to see my grandmother. We never had a tv in the car! and we didn't get a van until my brothers were too tall to sit in the reverse seat if our station wagon! As much as I hated it then I do look back on it fondly now mostly because I know all the words to bad Aussie rock and American surf pop songs my mum forced us to listen to! And when I hear the songs now (mostly at the supermarket) they make me smile and sing along :)

My SILs both have them in their cars and use them constantly!! Less than 30 minute trips even! And if you dare turn off Dora (even when you've arrived at your destination) the screaming fit that occurs makes me want to tear my uterus out and never have children of my own!

Charm | 9:28 AM

I'm an Australian child of the eighties and the eldest in a family of four kids that travelled 12 hours each way four times a year to see my grandmother. We never had a tv in the car! and we didn't get a van until my brothers were too tall to sit in the reverse seat if our station wagon! As much as I hated it then I do look back on it fondly now mostly because I know all the words to bad Aussie rock and American surf pop songs my mum forced us to listen to! And when I hear the songs now (mostly at the supermarket) they make me smile and sing along :)

My SILs both have them in their cars and use them constantly!! Less than 30 minute trips even! And if you dare turn off Dora (even when you've arrived at your destination) the screaming fit that occurs makes me want to tear my uterus out and never have children of my own!

Molly | 9:31 AM

Rebecca, I am 100% with you on this one. If you do plan on going on some realllly long trips, and I mean long (it takes 14 hours to get to the ocean from Ohio, and we do it every summer), I can see why having a DVD in the car could be helpful. But also, they make portable DVD players that you could keep *just* for those unusual occassions. But two hours on the way to grandma and grandpas? But twenty minutes to a grocery store? Kids' brains aren't developed, and they don't have impulse control, and once it's there they're going to have a hard time remembering how to entertain themselves without it.

I also think that the constant barrage of screens for kids is really contributing to their attention difficulties--and totally saps creativity. Boredom=necessary for creativity.

Anonymous | 9:32 AM

We recently let our son watch a movie or two on a ten hour drive from TN to DC, and it was a welcome distraction for him. We often drive four-five hours to Ohio, and we don't let him watch movies or anything on those trips. I have friends who pop a show in for trips as short as twenty minutes or an hour, and I think that's a bit silly.

Erin O. | 9:33 AM

We recently got an Odyssey that has a DVD player. I was very hesitant about it because I certainly don't want my kids expecting to watch TV in the car, but it has turned out to be wonderful. Not for watching movies, but for listening to books on CD. My six year old son is obsessed with books on CD, especially A-Z Mysteries and The Magic Tree House series. With the DVD player, he can use the headset to listen to his stories while I listen to NPR or music in the front.

sara | 9:41 AM

We don't have the tv's in our vehicle but opt for ipads on long trips. You can negotiate then. I gave into 3 ipads, but could not quite do the televisions. You can hide them until they are needed. And it is great the are multipurpose. Also great, kids headphones.

sara | 9:43 AM

In regards to you being the odd one out not wanting them, that is ridiculous. Perhaps you might need to look at another vehicle if this one pushes the tv's. We have 3 kids and have a Mazada CX7 and a Volvo XZ 60. Both awesome for families and for parents.

Tatiana | 9:45 AM

stay strong! time to explore your mind is precious.

Amanda M | 9:55 AM

I don't have kids, so I probably have no business having an opinion. But both my parents are elementary teachers with strong dislike of TV in general for kids, and that makes a lot of sense to me. I understand keeping kids occupied on long road trips can be hard, but flashing really fast moving bright images into their little developing eyes and brains doesn't seem so wonderful to me either.

Jen | 9:58 AM

Remember, you always have control in the car, just like the TV at home. I've always considered my TVs in the SUV (yes, each child has their own in the headrest) as a PRIVILEGE, not a right to use/view whenever they want. They come in handy when you do long road trips and/or times when a little DVD entertainment can come in handy (i.e. carpool). FYI, we did a 12 hr trip recently and one of the best times my kids had was doing the license plate game! Seriously! It's nice to have technology --the key is to balance it with common sense, which I know you have a ton :-)

CallieAnnie | 10:07 AM

I would rather have it and never use it than just opt out.
Use it as a reward, not a right. That's what we do with children's programs anyway. My son knows he cannot watch "Word World" if he misbehaves. You probably wouldn't just ban TV in your home and there's an on-the-go option for just about everything now. Even if you think you'll have that van forever, I would leave that buying particular option as-is for resell value.

Desi | 10:28 AM

Nope, no DVD's in the car for us. My kids don't get to watch much TV anyway. They colour, read books, torment each other, make me crazy... It's, um, character-building, right?

Elizabeth | 10:30 AM

My parent's suburban had one- well it was a 2000 and had a VCR and screen- the screen was folded up unless we were going on a trip longer than 2 hours (but my mom's family lives in Jersey, Massachusetts & driving from the DC metro area to the beach is at least 3 hours on a Saturday in the summer so it got lots of use). There were lots of rules about what we could & couldn't watch (mainly disney=good pg13 or r= bad) but it was how they kept the four of us not screaming/puking (one brother & I can't read in the car, the other 2 are cranky travelers) we were also 16-8 at the time- and it came with the car so (it was used and was more to get it taken out).

christine | 10:37 AM

My father did not believe it was a vacation until we drove at least 1,000 miles (the time we went to Hawaii I believe he almost went insane being stuck on an island). As a result every other year my brother, my mom, dad and I would pile into our 86 Subaru and drive from California to New Jersey in order to see some relatives. Two weeks driving out there, about one week there, and then another week driving back. The route out there would change each time. However, since my dad would fly back early to go to work, my mom would drive the whole way back so we would just do the straight shoot back. I think we averaged on those trips 500-600 miles a day. It was a lot of book reading, a lot of license plate games, a lot of talking. There were no videos involved (and that option would have horrified my parents as the tv was locked away except for Friday's and Saturdays.. and no VCR to tape the shows I missed Oh the horror)Looking back now I'm glad that we couldn't zone out for much more time than listening to a tape a few times. Now that we're all grown up the days of all of us on a vacation together are pretty much done, but we'll still talk over dinner at times of the various things we saw on the way to Jersey, like driving into Texas and seeing a sign that said You are Entering the Land of God Country and Free Enterprise, and my dad said "We're screwed." Cheering my dad on in Montana as he sped up our Subaru to 100 miles per hour and then promptly got pulled over and given a ticket. Driving through the midwest during tornado season and being on edge the whole time with dark clouds overhead, as we passed sign after sign that had been recently mangled by a twister. Coming down a mountain pass in Colorado that was so steep and windy and looking over the edge of the road and seeing the drop and then diving under my blanket. Fighting over the front seat until the rule was instilled that if you sat in the front you had to do the navigation (On real maps!) I rocked figuring out where to go, but the frustration of trying to fold up the maps drove me into the backseat.

I guess this rambling bit is just to say I don't think if we had a tv in the car these trips would still trigger such vivid memories for me, that I can still laugh at and cherish.

Plus when our ultimate destination was Clifton NJ you really better enjoy the road on the way there.

Julie | 10:40 AM

I am probably beating a dead horse, but I don't see what the problem is with kids being bored on occasion. It forces them into their creative heads. Car-sickness didn't even allow me to read in the car, so I got really good at watching the scenery and letting my mind wander. We even smonewhat limit my Fable-aged daughter's audiobooks, as we want some room for conversation or silence. And, lest you think she takes this gently, she has screamed her head off when she didn't get a story on demand. Then, she started making up songs.

Your older two kids seem to get along so well. The car is going to be a place where that is fostered over time. Do what you have to do to keep the screens off. Your instincts are dead-on.

Sam | 10:44 AM

I am SO against watching TV in the car for running around town. It's We make regular 2.5 hour trips home to see family and our now 4-year-old is a super champ in the back seat. I used to pack all sorts of books and entertainment but now he doesn't seem to need it. He is super in tune to where we are going and I think he LIKES to look out the window (or take a nap). When he was smaller we definitely needed the toys and books, though. My parents bought a car DVD player for a trip we took to Texas last summer and it came in handy, but he didn't crack out on it.

But - your little ones will probably spend more time in the car, maybe waiting for siblings to get out of school. Heck, you are probably going to have to sit in the van and feed them sometimes. I say, use it when and if you need to, but overall, I vote for boredom in the car!


I seriously want to publish these comments and turn it into an anthology. SO fascinating to hear your stories, specifically your childhood road trips. I really do feel like the "road trip" is a family institution and these comments are making me all nostalgic-like. I'm looking forward to starting a new life in our new non-TV/DVD equipped van. Thanks, again for these comments, you guys! And keep them coming!

Oh! And I also want to thank everyone for being respectful of each other's opinions, experiences and parenting philosophies. Although I do subscribe to the "TV once in a while is fine and awesome" channel, I also subscribe to the "there is a time and place for screens". I don't have apps on my phone for entertainment (for me OR my kids) for the same reason. I want to give my kids the kind of childhood I had - and still cherish - the one where we find ways to entertain ourselves with sticks and rocks and a broken crayon at the bottom of my purse or sugar packets at the restaurant table. I'd rather have TV veg-time at home, at the end of a long day than out in the world where the possibilities to explore thoughts and scenery seem endless. The car for me has always represented more than this thing we navigate from A to B... It's really the only place where everyone is forced to sit together for long periods of time WITHOUT the distraction of technology. I intend to keep it that way for as long as I can.

loodles | 10:55 AM

I feel like being bored and then working your way out of it is the JOB of a child. Being bored is good.That is why we emphatically turned down the model with the built in system even though they really pushed it at the dealership.
That being said we do drive from NoCal to SoCal at least 6 to 8 times a year and then we do bring a portable DVD player for some limited viewing. Still plenty of time for the boredom, the whining, the punching, the laughter, the family sing-alongs, and the punch-drunk contagious laughter of siblings forced to get along for 9 plus hours on the road.
I guess what I am saying is we practice moderation.

nsimone74 | 11:01 AM

Honestly I think it sucks. And it's hard enough to keep the TV watching down to an hour (eak or 2) a day as it is. Add Car time to that? Perhaps if you were going on a long road trip- yes bring a portable DVD player when everyone just needs a break. Otherwise- No.

JRM | 11:03 AM

I completely COMPLETELY agree. Creativity is born from having to figure out something to do. How can we expect kids to learn and have the time to do this if we don't let them?

Cara | 11:11 AM

I personally do not understand why this has become a "must have". Our van does not have a DVD and we have never missed it. We currently have two kids (2 and 4) and number three will be along any day. Last summer we took a 5000 km car trip across part of Canada and did not even wish we had a video for the kids. The thing about movies is yes, they can distract cranky kids, but they also keep them distracted from the world outside. To us, the drive to our destination is most of the adventure. We have found that books, paper and markers keep them occupied and we plan a stop every couple hours so we can all get out and run around. So I would say no to the DVD and embrace the crazy adventure that is the family car trip.

Dranrab | 11:16 AM

It's not my place to say what you and your family, or any other family should do to entertain your little ones while they're in the car. However, i get so aggravated every time I see the STUPID Toyota Highlander commercials. Why are we trying to promote "coolness" as DVD and SUVs. Sorry, but I'd much rather be in the car with parents singing "Just call me angel of the morning , angel. . . "

Really? Really? That is the message Toyota is going with? Be the cool kid with the better car? PUH-LEASE!

Amelia | 12:03 PM

I'm late to the game and I know that I'm about to sound like every 80-year-old out there, but back in my day (you know, the dark ages of the 90s) my mom always commented on how lucky I was that I could read in the car without blowing chunks and that was the extent of the entertainment-in-the-car convo.

Also, doesn't it all start to feel like one more thing that we will just have regulate? We can have it, but only if we're going this far on a tuesday and not if you nag and not if you fight and I will take it away and it is a privilege and now you have to turn it off and talk to mama about your day and no you know your sister doesn't like that movie etc etc etc. I think I'd rather mediate fights about someone's buttcheek being on someone's side of the seat than have one single argument about a tv in a car. But then, I haven't driven more than 6 hours in a car with more than one child, so there could a mondo piece of humble pie in my future.

It'll be fine no matter what you do...the name of the game is the big picture, I'm sure that all of our tots will be a-ok whether they veg out to a little boob tube in the car or not. In the grand scheme of things, having a peaceful mama trumps most of the moderately employed modern vices every time.

Anonymous | 12:42 PM

We have one, BUT we only turn it on for trips 2 hours or longer and even then, I choose the movie and when it's over, no more. I agree that they need to learn to entertain themselves. I definitely don't use mine for short trips to the store, but I've seen a lot of people who do that.

Anonymous | 1:20 PM

I love our tv in van! We don't turn it on for every trip. But it is not unusual to spend 2hrs in the car multiple times a week. My kids get carsick reading in the vehicle and gridlock is boring...I am bored crawling down the freeway. So yeah we have coloring books and car games toys that only live in the car so maybe they will be more interesting but it is one more thing to pass the time while doing tedious chores. We have had a t.v. in our vehicle since my oldest was 2 and she is 11 now and lots of car rides has no interest in turning it on, most kids learn moderation on their own.

Shannon | 1:54 PM

Have you read "Simplicity Parenting" by Kim John Payne? I think you'd like it. Boredom is one of the greatest gifts we can give our children.

Beth | 2:00 PM

I say no - i see too many of them on first thing in the morning - on the way to school, etc. I have considered them for road trips - you can buy one to velcro on the back of the seat, but never have because I wouldn't want to have a battle ever time we get in the car. Btw - my mother once stopped on interstate 95 and made my brother and I get out - just to scare us - i think!! I am sure we would have been zoned out with a tv, and there would be a scarring memory gone!! ha!!

Kristen | 2:21 PM

I have twin boys that are 6 1/2. Two years ago, we bought a fully loaded Highlander with everything except a DVD player.

While we don't travel a ton, we have certainly done several 8 or so hour car trips. My boys do great. They read, they entertain themselves. On our last trip we had brunch in Pasadena, and had one rest stop all the way back to SF, with no complaining.

We don't regret our decision to forgo the DVD.

the king of carrot flowers | 2:25 PM

we own a portable DVD player- that we ONLY use in extreme driving situations (ie: 10 hours to florida- yes please!)

BUT i will NEVER buy a vehicle that has one installed because well- it just sets it up for the kid begging to watch something ALL THE TIME. The TV fight is one we already have too often I would hate to have it in the car as well.

My neice is 8 and they have a dvd player in their vehicle and she is always starting movies for 5 minute car trips- drives me BATTY.

for what its worth though we had a tv/vcr in our van in the late 80s cause we were all posh like that- and we drove ALL OVER the US in that van- and STILL got bored, still had awesome road trip memories (and still watched a lot of movies)

Cynthia | 2:40 PM

I only have one kid - maybe I'd call on tv more if I had more kids because it's hard to entertain that many. So WHAT I'M ABOUT TO SAY IS NOT MEANT AS JUDGMENT! It's just my observation and my experience.

My daughter is 4, and she doesn't watch tv. Every time I start to think that maybe we should turn on Sesame Street or something, she proves me wrong by quietly making an art collage or a book or telling me funny stories. Yes, there are times when I need to get work done, and it's tempting. But we've just stuck with a no tv rule, and she's reading A LOT in two languages and already writing also at age 4. So no tv in the house, and I would never do the tv in the car thing. I agree completely with what you said about screen dependency erasing potential memories.

Also, I teach at the college level, and I have to say that I have students who can't function without tvs, phones, videos. It's amazing to me. I always do a questionnaire at the beginning of the semester that includes a question about their tv-watching habits, and ACROSS THE BOARD, the students that did not grow up with a tv are the better students - able to read, think, express themselves more clearly. And they're also never the ones who have to get up in class five times to go to the bathroom and whose legs are jittery all class because they can't check Facebook.

Shay | 3:03 PM

We spent a lot of time in the car going to hospitals. The kids watch movies in the car and Daddy brings the laptop for movies in the waiting rooms and clinics. Since you have to sit anyway why not use this for TV and keep home for train sets, playing in the back yard etc. There is plenty of time to learn to be bored more times than not we don't watch a video. We never use it around town or anything.

Anonymous | 3:09 PM

For me, our portable DVD player has been a life saver in the car. My husband is in the Army and lives/works 4 hours from home without a vehicle of his own. We make the 8 hour drive every Friday and Sunday to go pick him up and drop him off. My two year old did fine for the first few trips because the sights were new and the experience was fun. She quickly lost interest and began to hate the trips so much that she almost refused to get into the car. Having a portable DVD player for her to watch her favorite movies on made the trips so much less stressful for everyone involved. The DVD player only comes out for these trips and helps to keep her entertained. She enjoys singing along with the songs and repeating her favorite parts. As a bonus, it makes my drive much much easier. I'd say that if they come standard, I dont see a point in removing them. In the event that you have to take a long road trip with little ones who are less than enthused to be strapped down in a car seat for 8 hours, you can always throw on something to keep them entertained. And besides, it doesnt have to be Dora the Explorer... you could always throw in Planet Earth and let the kids "Oooh" and "ahhh" over something more educational. :)

SoMo | 3:16 PM

Our DVD has saved us many time. Like when we had a 14 hour drive from New Orleans to Houston aka hurricane evacuation.

When I just had one child the rule was only if the trip was over an hour. When my son became of the age to bug the hell out of his sister the DVD became very useful. I tried everything to keep the noise level down. I am sorry but I can't drive with 2 screeching monkeys in the back. Once number 3 came along, I threw the older 2 in the third row and a set of headphones. The baby (2yrs old) doesn't have headphones, but does watch and is in the second row by herself.

Do I like that my kids watch the DVD player in the car? No. Do I not want to drive off a very high bridge I must go over multiple times a day? YES!! Besides there are other things that hold my kids attention. My 9 yr old reads, studies, and draws in the car. My 5 yr old plays his Buzz Lightyear or with an old smart phone that has games on it. I did ask my 9 yr old if she wanted a DS to play with while we were on the go and she said, no. She isn't that corrupted, yet. ;)

Kelly | 3:25 PM

As a teacher (and a mom of triplets), I beg all parents out there to make an effort to ditch the TV and video games. If you want to see something sad, come to my school at recess to witness the dozens of kids just standing in line waiting for recess to end because they don't know what to do with themselves for 15 minutes without adult direction or electronics. It's downright depressing. Television, computers, and toys that do all the work for kids are killing the imagination. All of these things have their place, but there also needs to be time for boredom, or silence, or conversation, or make believe.

Humanist mom | 3:25 PM

I don't think it is a black and white issue, bad vs. good. We had a little dvd player in our car (until it broke recently) and our rules were as follows.
1. No shows or movies on a drive less than an hour long.
2. Educational movies are all that we play (documentaries, science, nature, Leap Frog type stuff)
3. On road trips, the kids can watch one movie, and then get an hour break between movies

It has been a lifesaver for us, because when my kids get bored, they automatically destroy things or argue.

chris | 3:39 PM

No way - some things are sacred. My daughter was trained on 6-hour drives to Montreal from Toronto to see Nanny from the age of 2 weeks. It's all about learning to delay gratification - a huge skill that can become the marker for future success. Not every moment is fun or entertaining... best not to wait until the age of 20 to teach that hard life lesson! Love your blog, by the way. Best of luck!

Allison the Meep | 3:44 PM

I have a huge problem with kids being constantly plugged in and entertained now. A bit of it is cool. Moderation of all things. But I know people who turn on a movie for their kids every single time they get in the car. What room does that leave for creative thinking? And conversations with parents about important (or not) things?

There are times where I've felt like on a vacation, it would be really nice to play a movie. But that's what mix cds are for! And games of I Spy. And books...and well, you get it. I think kids are just way too plugged in.

Mellie | 3:54 PM

We do not have any kids yet, but we discuss this all the time. I totally agree with you. My husband thinks the DVD player is awesome. I, like you, have all the memories from childhood and I always joke that my child will have to suffer like we did. As much as I love media, I just think we need to turn it off sometimes.

Autumn | 3:55 PM

I only allow movie watching in the car for long road trips (2 or more hours). I think I would loose my mind if I didn't, especially when I'm trying to drive 5 hours solo with a 3 years old and infant in the back. I wish, wish, wish this had been an option when I was a child. I don't even watch TV and hardly ever had, but sitting in a car for hours with my little brother was torturous.

Twwly | 4:09 PM

We're on the hell no team and we do a lot of driving.

We play a lot of eye spy. And the kids get to learn to relax and look out the window, just like I did.

Kids are strapped to screens, it's like WALL-E come to life.

ann marie | 4:19 PM

We have a honda minivan and I love it, however no tv. We drove form Florida to NY and back last summer with our four kids, ages 14,12,10 and 4 and we did it without a tv or dvd and we survived just fine. We talked, ate ,slept,played mad libs. No tv in a car. Ick. It depresses me to think of having one.

Germerican | 4:23 PM

Thank you for this! I am avidly reading the comments and love the input.

You see, my husband and I cannot agree on this: he (who loves gadgets and can spend HOURS reading specs and tests) thinks it's great. I decidedly do not. I think we offer too many ways to "tune out" the world in this day and age, and I don't want to continually offer these distractions. I think that in the end, we and our children do not learn to enjoy the moments. I have a hrad time doing things without further input (I read in the shower, have a book or my iphone when i am on the pot, feel the itch to pull out my iphone at traffic lights!!).

The car is one of the few spaces (which is already sad enough) where I feel that my mother and I always had calm, but in-depth conversations. As someone else said, no eye contact, but we were in our "bubble". This is also sometimes true for conversations that husband and I have.

I want my child (26 week in utero!) to take on the moments we have, as different as they may be, and be able to deal with them. Even these seemingly boring ones.

Thank you so much, again, for this question and your awesome readers, this is such a push to speak about this with husband soon.

Stef | 5:36 PM

I get hella carsick and have since I was a child, and the same goes for my husband. So I am just going to assume that any kiddos we have in future will be similarly afflicted (although who really knows? Maybe we will be pleasantly surprised...).

So it is with great puzzlement that I am reading here that some people have kids who cant read in the car but can watch TV in the car instead. There's no way I could have read in the car as a kid (still can't), and similarly, I can't watch TV in a moving vehicle. Both involve focusing on something at close-range while zooming through physical space. I do best in cars when I can focus on a distant, non-moving horizon line, so usually sitting in the front seat or even driving is best for me.

I had to stare down at my shoes pretty much the whole time during the Harry Potter ride in Orlando because it's basically watching TV while moving around. I hear the ride was awesome and really wanted to experience it, but all simulator type rides are hell for me, so it just didn't work out. Barf!

So, how is it possible that TV works when books can't if one gets motion sick? I'm so curious. Because I always figured that with our gene pool, TV would be out just like books would be out for any future little ones.

BTW, I totally agree with everything you said in your post, Bec, and I couldn't have said it any better!

Kate | 5:45 PM

I don't have kids so I can't say what I'd do for sure. What I can say is that I'm not into screens and, as someone who's a librarian and works with kids, I have major concerns about how easily pacified kids are when the a screen goes on. The glazed over look...ugh.

I can totally see why you're leaning towards no. It seems like the good compromise to NOT get the DVD player as a standard option and then buy a portable one or an iPad if in-flight entertainment is a must. It's tough to fight against the current. No matter what you decide, I think you're awesome for being so sensitive to it as an issue.

Kate | 5:46 PM

I don't have kids so I can't say what I'd do for sure. What I can say is that I'm not into screens and, as someone who's a librarian and works with kids, I have major concerns about how easily pacified kids are when the a screen goes on. The glazed over look...ugh.

I can totally see why you're leaning towards no. It seems like the good compromise to NOT get the DVD player as a standard option and then buy a portable one or an iPad if in-flight entertainment is a must. It's tough to fight against the current. No matter what you decide, I think you're awesome for being so sensitive to it as an issue.

team stephens | 5:49 PM

We have a "no dvd until the last hour-ish"rule... & never on anything but roadtrips. its a lifesaer for me right now, my husbands deployed & we've spent a good amount of time 6 hours away at my parents... that last hour is killer sometimes (2 kids btw, 17 months & 4 1/2)! other times we dont even need it... i think it just needs to stay limited!

Lisa | 5:55 PM

We often take long car trips with our two boys to visit family -- my parents live an 8 hour drive away and my in-laws live 4 hours away by car. We do not (and will likely not ever) own a DVD player for our vehicle. Like you, I think the journey is as important as the destination; I want my boys to remember all of our crazy car trips and to be able to find more interesting ways to entertain themselves when they need to. Here's a recent blog post I wrote about what kids can do in the car instead of staring at a screen: Call me old-fashioned....

robin | 8:38 PM

no, thanks! I agree with you. I have many a fond memory of counting tomato trucks and finding the abc's on road signs!

Me. | 9:03 PM

We have them. They aren't part of the car, so we just put them in when we choose to. We actually only put them in for long car rides... Like 2 hours or more. My kids are three and 16 months and don't sleep well in the car, so after a couple of hours in the car they are getting tired and cranky and so it's nice to pop in Elmo or Toy Story and have them chill out... Especially if I'm driving without another adult. Cranky babies and driving don't mix well for me! But for short car rides or an every day thing- No thanks.

ABL | 9:10 PM

I love our removable DVD player units. We can use them on long rides (my mom lives 5 hours away, my in laws are 7 hours) where he can watch 1 movie. The rest of the time he's drawing, chatting, playing with stickers, listening to music, telling stories, etc. It's great to have as an option & the fact that it's removable means we don't have to fight about it on every day drives or even shorter road trips.

I say don't get something with the system built in where the kids plug in to headphones. Get something removable with volume so you can "watch" together on the really long trips when they need a break & so do you.

Corrina | 9:21 PM

Just because you have one, doesn't mean you have to use it nonstop :) Our van has one b/c we were buying used and it was bascially the only van that met our needs and was in our price range--and it just happened to have a DVD player. We use ours for long trips, for helping the kids stay calm on a late night drive home instead of melting down b/c they are tired etc. quick trips, normal daily driving--it doesn't go on.

Lara | 10:38 PM

We just bought an Odyssey and I purposely got the version without the entertainment system. I think it was the EX that we have -- plenty of bells and whistles but minus the DVD system. I'm not a completely anti-tv mom, but for the car, only on long roadtrips and for that I pull out an ITouch. The temptation was too great to use the tv for shorter trips if it was there and I don't want my kids to think staring at a tv b/c you have to be in a car is okay. I'd rather we talk or sing to music.

Allison | 10:51 PM

Hell to the no. There has been some research done lately about the value of boredom in children, and living in an anxious environment where this a constant need for external stimuli deprives them of so much (imagination, executive function,etc). It's called read a book or go to sleep. I survived and I'm pretty sure my kids can.

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