IE 11 is not supported. For an optimal experience visit our site on another browser.

Reese Witherspoon tells Jenna she watched 5 hours of TV a day as a child

And now she makes TV shows, so it all worked out!
/ Source: TODAY

As more parents settle into the routine of quarantine, many are relaxing their kids’ screen time rules — including TODAY’s Jenna Bush Hager.

In a chat with Reese Witherspoon in honor of World Book Day on Thursday, Jenna said she’s been letting her kids watch more television so she can get things done.

“We didn’t really used to let our kids look at screens, like during pre-quarantine,” she said. “We didn’t let them do it during the week, we were always reading, and now, I’m like, all right y’all, TV time while I clean the kitchen because you kind of have to.”

Witherspoon wholeheartedly agreed with Jenna, saying she watched “so much television” as a child.

“I read books too, but I’m not kidding, Jenna,” Witherspoon laughed. “I watched probably five hours of television a day, and guess what? Now I make TV shows! So don’t worry about it.”

She added she had “learned what a joke was, like a deliberate joke” from watching TV — shows like “Saturday Night Live,” “Diff’rent Strokes” and “The Jeffersons.”

Jenna recalled watching hours of TV with her sister, Barbara Bush.

“My sister, Barb, was kind of like, ‘Remember when we used to watch “MacGyver” in mom and dad’s bed for hours?’” she said. “And I was like, ‘I do!’”

“I think it’s maybe about not being so hard on ourselves,” she added, as Witherspoon nodded.

Experts have agreed with the two moms.

Jordan Shapiro, the author of "The New Childhood: Raising Kids to Thrive in a Connected World" and parent of two sons, told TODAY: "All the research has consistently shown that there's nothing toxic about screen exposure. You don't turn into a zombie. Your brain doesn't rot. Therefore, the question of duration is not really relevant."

Shapiro said it's more important for parents to be concerned with how their kids are engaged with screen-based media.

"Are they just binge-watching YouTube videos, or are they involved in something creative?" he asked.

And if they would like an education in comedy, both Jenna and Witherspoon are huge “Golden Girls” fans.

“My neighbor wrote the ‘Golden Girls,’ and I’m so obsessed,” Witherspoon said, lowering her voice conspiratorially. “He’s amazing.”

“We need more ‘Golden Girls,’” Jenna added.