What are TV-free kids like?

By , March 1, 2007 9:00 pm

I made my decision to live a TV-free life when my now 6 year-old was about 9 months old. So none of my three kids (6, 4 and 1) has ever experienced TV in our home. I have long been anticipating that inevitable question: “Mom, why don’t we have TV like everyone else?” My two oldest have been attending school since they were 3 and I really thought I would have had The Question by now, but no, not yet.

Some friends of mine decided to discontinue their TV service about 9 months ago and their 6 year-old has finally adjusted. She plays or reads in her free time and no longer asks to watch TV. My friends’ experience proves that it IS possible to eliminate the box from your family’s life even if your children are used to it. I imagine it might be harder to do with older kids or teens, but I believe anything is possible as long as both parents are totally committed to the idea.

My husband’s house has TV but when we go there, astonishingly, the kids never ask to watch. They spend their time playing. I do allow an occasional video, but again, to my surprise, they hardly ever request one (it’s been about four months since their last video). If we go to a hotel, their big treat is a room service meal as a “picnic” on the floor while watching TV. The hotel we go to frequently has no children’s channels so they watch the food channel and are thrilled. Once at ages 3 and 4 they sat in awe, completely glued to a half-hour gardening show which demonstrated the proper technique for pruning a bush!

I am not writing about this to “brag” that my children are perfect (believe me, they are far from it!). I simply want to encourage any families out there who are considering taking the big plunge. For us, the results have been well worth it so far.

3 Responses to “What are TV-free kids like?”

  1. Anonymous says:

    Yep, we disconnected the tube last June (and we live in a rural enough area that if you don’t have cable or satellite, you don’t have any reception at all) and I was once again surprised by a comment my husband made just this weekend as we were playing Parcheesi as a family on Saturday night after having a living room picnic… He said, “MAN I love not having TV!” Just like that! Outta the blue. And I think he was expressing what we were all feeling. He said it because we were in the middle of real live family memory-making time instead of boob tube watching, which we probably would have done “in the old days”. And we still have “the box,” or the TV, so we use it to watch the occasional DVD movie together as a family, but then it’s an EVENT that we do TOGETHER (with popcorn and homemade pizza) and it’s still more memorable than just plain ol’ TV viewing. Glad that’s outta our life! Maybe that’ll change if our kid gets to feeling left out or teased, but the skills we’re learnnig now as a family to entertain ourselves and enjoy eachother will last! Amy

  2. Anonymous says:

    We’ve never let the children (ages 6 and 7.5) watch television programs, but they have caught a glimpse or two at friends’ houses, and we became concerned recently that our nanny may not have been honoring our no tv instruction, so this morning we turned off the cable connection. [We actually never did turn the tv on except for the annual super bowl game, so this is not a hardship for the adults in the family at all]. They do get to watch videos from time to time, mostly on weekends, but they’ve tended to ask for those less and less lately. Recently, though, probably put up to it by the nanny, they’ve been asking why they can’t watch TV and whether we did watch as children, and complaining that they won’t know what’s going on in the world (a direct quote) and that they don’t know what their friends are talking about. But the really interesting thing is that if we just ignore the complaints they very quickly find interesting ways to amuse themselves.
    I do worry sometimes about the cultural literacy issue (if you can call anything related to commercial TV either cultural or literate!). I don’t want them bullied. But I am hoping we can help them develop their self esteem sufficiently that they will take pride in their difference, their creativity, their non-tv accomplishments, their imaginative lives.
    I also think that the day may come when we will have to relax this prohibition. When I was young we were permitted 30 minutes of TV during the school week for every A we had received during the prior grading period. With only 5 classes, this meant we could only watch 2.5 hrs of tv a week. I could probably live with that if I had to. But I fear it is a slippery slope.

  3. Mom of three says:

    Wow! What great comments! Thanks for taking the time for such an interesting and thoughtful contribution to my blog. Please keep coming back and sharing your thoughts!

    I really love the direct quote in comment #2, that your kids say without TV they “won’t know what’s going on in the world!” They can be so funny…and they really know how to push our buttons don’t they!

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