Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Turn off the TV week

Okay, so we don't actually have TV, but I can still participate in this wonderful week of creativity right? We watch videos. My kids were talking about this in the car yesterday afternoon,
'Turn off your TV week'.
"Just one week Mom" Middle Man said, "Not years and years and years. Did you misunderstand?"
(How clever, a nine year old's sarcasm, does it get any better?....*note: I'm being sarcastic)
I try and explain that I really believe that we are better off without being inundated with flashing images and sound bites, advertisements and violence. But I can tell my words fall on deaf ears.
"Did you see American Idol? Can you believe what Sawyer did last night on LOST? I am soooo smarter than a fifth grader, where do they get these people?"
My 15 year old chimes in, "This is what it's like Mom, this is my bus ride to school. Do you really think I'm going to join the conversation with, 'Who is Sawyer again? The doctor or the conman?' or 'I hope you are smarter than a 5th grader you're in 9th grade.' or 'American Idol, yes I know that show, my Grandmother tapes it for us and mails it to us. We're a week behind so don't tell me who got eliminated okay.' NO, no I'm not."

He has a point.

I guess I never gave much thought to the social implications. Hearing him say this I was reminded of my reaction, of complete and utter horror by the way, to a classmate of mine in the 5th grade when she shared that she didn't know who Cindy Brady was (GASP!). I regret my reaction now. I was/am a tad dramatic at times.
Here is what I know:
There have been more than 4,000 studies about TV's effects on children. While definitive conclusions are difficult to arrive at, most studies suggest that excessive TV-watching correlates with:
  • aggressive behavior
  • lower academic performance
  • a child's belief that he/she will be the victim of a crime
  • diminished attention spans
  • stereotyped gender role attitudes, images of older people and racial perceptions.
Over 1000 separate studies and reviews attest that exposure to heavy doses of television violence increases the likelihood of aggressive behavior.
*Number of murders seen on TV by the time an average child finishes elementary school: 8000

I'll get down from my soap box now, I don't like preachy. And honestly, I am NOT passing judgment on any parents who do have TV. I was raised in front of that glowing box. I loved TV until I realized I could live without it. My husband and I came to the conclusion that we could not afford the bill each month. It wasn't worth it and money (which we have little of) was being wasted. And so the TV service was turned off. I was absolutely grumpy for honestly about 1/2 a year.
I missed ER, PBS on while I prepared dinner, I missed the morning weather report and home improvement shows. I did not like this major change in our lives. Even if it was for the best. But now seven years later, I don't miss it, well maybe PBS and home improvement shows...
We use the Internet to stay "connected" 'Taller Than Me' looks up the scores to big sporting events and yes, who was kicked off American Idol, so he can stay in the ninth grade social loop.
And I obviously I am very thankful for our computer connecting me to all of you.

So what did we do without TV on Tuesday?
TV free activity#1: Making Mosaics:

Not much involvement from 'Taller than Me' (which was expected, although he did comment that they would make good coasters and suggested we use them [when they dry] on the dinner table) but Middle Man and Little One enjoyed it. 'Middle Man' sat high up at the counter stool because he used the small round (choke-able) tiles and 'Little One' sat at his small table with cut felt and tissue paper squares...both LOVED using school glue. It was messy but tons of fun.
Enjoy your TV free day, week, month, year~whatever. Enjoy your time with your kiddos.


Evenspor said...

I think that's great that you don't have tv. Here's a news flash for your kids: some parents don't let their kids watch those shows even though they do have a tv. They are probably not the only kids on the bus thinking, "Who is that?" They just don't know it, because no one wants to speak up.

Suzanne said...

Did you know can order alot of PBS shows on Netflix. This is the tradeoff for us when considering getting the cable tossed. The bill for basic set up is so high and all the shows are so horrible you can't watch them anyway. I thought why are we paying almost $100 per month for PBS? Good post!

Shannon said...

The social implications really are something. We have tv but it is very limited and its nothing for my kids to go weeks without any tv or videos. We never watch american idol or similar shows (although we are watching can you duet on CMT simply because we have friends in the running). My 11 year old really resents it much of the time and it leaves me lacking confidence in my decision to say no. I hold to my guns and continue to opt out of the pop culture tv phenoms 80-90% of the time, but I am often unsure if I am really doing right by him. I am not sure if it really is harder to be a kid these days or not, but some times it seems like it.

Montessori Mama said...

I didn't know you could rent PBS from Netflix, thank you for letting me know Suzanne.
My husband (not a TV watcher) made the suggestion many times that we limit everyone's TV watching and keep the TV service. We did do this but it was a challenge. Oddly enough I was glad when it eventually came down to money that we gave up TV. The limiting was a challenge, not because I couldn't say "No" but because of the resentment as Shannon mentioned. It's a bit easier this way. For the most part they don't seem to mind/notice. Just occasionally because of social reasons. At 15 and 9 they are both well read, bright and I'm proud to say peaceful. I didn't mean to imply that was because of less TV viewing. I think of myself as peaceful also and like I said, I grew up watching ALLOT of TV. Those statistics frightened me and so I chose to share them in case you didn't know. Thanks for the comments!

Mama J said...

Hooray for no tv!! I had a pretty serious tv addiction (even though we only get 4 channels) right around the time my son was born. I think, as with all things, it requires a bit of moderation. When Nico gets older, we plan on allotting a certain amount of time that he can watch tv each week. It will be up to him to decide which show(s) are worthy of his time. We'll see how that goes, hehe. Now that I no longer watch "the idiot box", I read more, do more activities, and feel a lot more fulfilled. It did take awhile though, just like you said MM. Happy day!

MerrandaVK said...

We too, got rid our our cable and have no TV service. We just watch DVDS on our TV now. I wonder often how my kids will feel about this as they grow older. Thanks for your post.

Also, I watch most of my favorite shows online now. I think ER is online :) SO I can keep up with the shows I want to watch at night after they are in bed and I am blogging. Also, we too use Netflix and the Library for PBS shows and other appropriate videos for the kiddos.

Another great post!!

writinggb said...

Yeh, I was planning on doing the tv free week ... and then the kid got SICK! Out the window with that plan. Usually,he'd rather read or play outside than watch tv anyway. But when he's sick, there's nothing like a little comforting PBS kids or Bill Nye the Science Guy video...!

plaidshoes said...

I don't think I could ever convince my husband to give up the TV. I would love to take it out of our house. Mostly because whenever I try to limit it (and they are only allowed to watch PBS), it slowly creeps back in. I know that even if it is PBS, doesn't mean it should always be on. Kuddos to you!

Evenspor said...

What I was trying to convey but didn't do very well, was that my tv viewing was very limited growing up. I didn't watch a lot of the popular tv shows and movies. It didn't bother me much at the time (In fact, I think I was in high school when I realized that the main reason a lot of people watched those tv shows and movies was so that they could talk about them, and was glad I wasn't wasting my time), but now sometimes when I see how much of my husband's nostalgia from growing up is associatied with things he watched, I feel a little left out. Especially when he says, "You don't know who ____ is? You never watched ____?" But my fondest memories of being Middle Man's age are of the books my mom read to us and the sewing projects she did with us, and I am glad that was how we spent our time (especially when my husband shows me some of the 80's movies I "missed out" on, and I see just how little I was missing).

Shannon said...

I am curious about what your families habits are concerning computer games and video games are. We really don;t ever have complaints or conflicts about Tv, but the gaming is a whole different level.

Montessori Mama said...

The wonder of the kitchen timer!
I don't know what we would do without it. It's not at all 'Montessori' but 'screen time' isn't really either.
What do other families do to keep the peace between siblings sharing a screen??

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