Going TV Free

Going TV Free

One Wednesday afternoon in mid-November my 3-year-old daughter was watching a DVD and I was working on dinner.   She told me that the TV was broken, and I assumed the DVD was acting up.  Wrong.  The TV was toast.  As in, it wouldn't turn on anymore.  As in, it was suddenly nothing but an impractically large paper weight taking up a whole corner of the living room.

Our TV has long had a quirk of occasionally turning itself off.  If we let it cool off for a minute or two, though, it always came right back on.  Some research indicated that this was a weakness with our particular model.  It can't really be fixed, and eventually they fail completely.  We decided to just wait until that time came, since TVs are only getting cheaper.

Of course, we didn't anticipate exactly when the TV would breathe its last breath.  And we certainly didn't consider the possibility that it would occur when we have a busy preschooler and a new baby dividing our attention.  Or during November when it's rainy and dark and entertainment is at a premium.  Really, it couldn't have come at a worse time.  So, did we rush off to the nearest electronics store, credit card in hand?

Instead we decided to take some time and see what it's like to be a TV free family.  While it can be a useful tool when you want to entertain your kid, it's not without its problems.  Our daughter frequently melts down when her show ends.  Some of the messages that come from TV are questionable at best.  And all of us plug in to the TV instead of interacting with each other or being active.

It's been more than 2 1/2 months since the TV turned itself off.  How has it gone so far?  Actually, better than I expected.  No TV means no TV battles.  This alone is worth it.  Our daughter has been finding other activities for herself.   We've been listening to music more, and I am getting back into my knitting.  And we're also saving money, since we're not paying for cable or Tivo service.  There's a lot that's positive about this TV-free state that was foisted upon us.

On the other hand, there have been some rough days.  Our area has had an unusually snowy winter.  We were more or less snowed in for two weeks, with a baby and a preschooler and no TV for respite.  I don't have the option of getting 30 minutes to myself whenever I need it, courtesy of the Tivo.  And my husband really misses his sports, which are not always available over the internet.  It hasn't been all sweetness and light.

There's another interesting twist to this story.  We may have no TV, but we are far from TV-less.  Thanks to the wonder of the internet, I am up-to-date on pretty much all of my favorite shows.  I watched the season premiere of Lost last week, and I get my weekly dose of life on Wisteria Lane.  The computer has replaced the TV in a very big way.  So far my daughter isn't aware that this an option, but I doubt we can keep her in the dark indefinitely.

I don't think that we'll remain without a TV forever.  But for now we're enjoying the experiment.  My honest hope is that if and when we do buy another TV, we will be able to forge a new relationship with it.  We will devote less of our time to sitting mindlessly in front of it.  I might be delusional, but a girl can dream, right?

--------------------------------------

Catch up on all of my TV-free adventures on my blog at Strocel.com.

Related Posts

The Idiot Box and Us: Decisions About TV

The nickname "idiot box" well describes how I feel TV and kids generally get along. You plonk a child in front of the TV and all you’ll get is a stagnant, vacant, dumbed down version of what was once an active, bright, spunky, individual. There are so many other, better, things kids could be doing. For a long time I’ve held the view that TV is not great for kids. I still hold that view, but lately I’ve been reassessing how TV works in our family.   Read more >

Science, Puppets and TV: An Interview with Halle Stanford of The Jim Henson Company

Halle Stanford is in charge of children's television development at The Jim Henson Company -- a job so cool Fast Company once interviewed her for an article on Dream Jobs. She shepherded shows like Dinosaur Train and Sid the Science Kid to children's screens around the world, and is part of the reason your preschooler may know more about science than you do.   Read more >

Has TV Violence and Crime Gone Too Far?

Excuse me for a moment while I think like a total prude, but I am rather concerned about a question I have been thinking about a lot lately... has TV gone too far? The internets were buzzing recently about a controversial episode of The Walking Dead ("Just look at the flowers..."). I won't discuss the specific circumstances of the episode, however a simple Google search of the line I quoted will explain everything. But what exactly is too far for a violent and gory show about walking dead? If you did that Google search, you know the answer.   Read more >

Comments

In order to comment on BlogHer.com, you'll need to be logged in. You'll be given the option to log in or create an account when you publish your comment. If you do not log in or create an account, your comment will not be displayed.