A Matter of Degree

By , October 18, 2008 9:13 am

Many times when people find out that we have no TV they look at me as if I am from another planet.  I suppose to them, it is as if I am saying that we have no indoor plumbing, or running water.  TV has become as much a part of our lives nowadays as central heat and a flush toilet.  Most people take TV for granted and view it as one of life’s necessities.

However, just because I have no TV does not mean that I am a luddite.  Obviously I love my computer and my high-speed internet access (perhaps too much).  Technology can be a wonderful thing, but like many wonderful things, I believe that it is best used in moderation.

Deciding to adopt an unplugged lifestyle is a matter of degree.  The one extreme would be no TV, videos, computer…nothing with a screen…EVER.  The other end of the unplugged spectrum is to allow the use of all those things, but in moderation.

For those of us who do wish to live some form of screen-free life, the degree to which we do so is very much a matter of personal choice.  What works for one individual or family, might not work for another.

My family is somewhere in the middle.  Although we are without a TV signal here in this remote part of Arizona (having chosen not to install cable or satellite), we do own “the box” which I inherited from my mother.  I allow occasional videos or DVDs.  I also allow some limited computer time for the two oldest who like to play educational games.  We have no TV-based video games and I even try to avoid loud talking, flashing toys.  I prefer quiet ones that offer more open-ended, imaginative play.

When we are away from home and someplace with a TV, I allow the kids to watch some.  They find this totally fascinating and consider it a big treat.  What’s more, they’ll watch ANYTHING and are just as happy watching the Food Network as they are PBS Kids.

So for anyone who has been lurking here because you are considering reducing or eliminating screens from your family’s life, I hope you feel encouraged by this post.  It never occurs to many people that it is all simply a matter of degree!

You don’t have to cut it all off.  You don’t have to do it cold turkey.  You don’t have to rip out your plumbing and build an outhouse.

My advice:  Don’t be afraid to experiment.  Adjust your screen time until you find just the right balance for you and your children.

8 Responses to “A Matter of Degree”

  1. Habetrot says:

    We recently had our cable turned off, and after a week or so of discomfort things have evened out beautifully. We are spending so much more time reading, crafting and talking! We’ve kept netflix coming and now movie time is a special snuggly treat.

    So very glad we made the change.

  2. Karen B says:

    We have 2 old small TVs just waiting to be disposed of, so old they don’t even hook up to a VCR so they’ll soon be useless anyway, and one decent color TV in a not-very-inviting room of the house–it’s always the coldest room in the winter and has turned into a storage room. We never bothered to move the TV out. I watch a couple shows over the internet and we borrow movies from the library. We see far fewer commercials this way and it cuts back quite a bit on stuff you’ve gotta have and don’t need but it looks so cool in the commercial.

  3. Cindy says:

    Very well put! And yes, I know that feeling when you mention you have no TV in your home and people give you “the look”.

    Cindys last blog post..Things That Make My Heart Sing

  4. Jonah Lisa says:

    Wow, I so agree with this whole statement. It really is a matter of degrees and of personal comfort level. And what I’ve found is also not to be overly concerned about fluctuations. We have excellent days, good days and bad days. But, as with the occasional junky dinner, all those good days help me not feel so rotten when we have a bad day.

    Jonah Lisas last blog post..Travels with Children :: Fossil Rim Wildlife Park

  5. Heather says:

    We have a TV, but have no cable or antena. We still hold onto it for videos/dvds. I am not sure why. I think my husband doesn’t want to take the full leap. We also have almost no toys with noise. I personally find them so loud! It is amazing when you are at a home with them – such noise! If we do receive one as a gift I never put in the batteries – it helps that my oldest is 5.5 and has only just begun reading a bit.

    On a side note, I am also in AZ. I live in a suburb of Phx – where are you?

  6. Nature Mama says:

    Hee hee, I had to laugh at your children loving to watch anything including like the food network *grin* We do have a television but use it sparsely, so when it does go on my kids will watch anything to and honestly it is often the food network or the national geographic channel. My mom and I used to think it was quite comical because when we grocery shopped and were by the magazine racks the kids would be yelling out, there’s Paula (dean) or hey it’s Ricardo and Martha! LOL. I’d love to get rid of the set completely and do it in a heartbeat, but Dh is still hanging onto it :)

    Nature Mamas last blog post..Fall Leaf Acrostic Poems

  7. Bobbie says:

    I think in some way it is hard to limit it if it is there.. I really want one of those tv cabinets with the doors to lock it!!

    I admit to my kids watching too much tv when they were young (isnt that the worst time for their devloping brains!!) but find it easier now they are at school. We have no tv before school and only for an hour after school.. no night time viewing for them.. NO tv on sundays as we go to church…Saturday morning cartoons are allowed

    Yet I feel this is still too much.. but getting them to give up is HARD!!

    I am encouring more afterschool play and wwe are learning to ride bikes (our house is so small we have to go elsewhere to do it) but they are so tired after we walk all the way home from school all they want to do is sit and watch tv…

    I think I need to teach them some other ways to relax!! And I think if it doesnt change now while they are youn (while you are waiting for them to grow up and be able to read books and play board games without a parent having to break up squabbles ;) they will be addicted and too late to have that great playing together family I wanted.

    thanks for the post… given me an extra push :)

    Bobbies last blog post..Wax Challenge – Unplug Your Kids

  8. Carrie says:

    I just found your blog and cannot wait to venture further into the content!
    I have 3 boys 9,6,4 and we have only had tv for the last year or so. Before that is was dvd’s only. We subscribed to satellite for the educational programming (discovery kids, national geographic, history channel etc.). We limit tv drastically but do allow limited video games and educational computer games and internet access for my oldest. The only toys we have are lego and other building toys…. oh and LOTS of art and craft supplies!
    I look forward to more of your unplugged tasks!

    Carries last blog post..Think! Our Eggcellent Solutions

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