Thank you so much to Breathe Magazine for asking me to contribute to their fall issue article entitled “Your Kids Unplugged.”
I really like how they present the middle of the road point of view…REDUCE…don’t eliminate. This is almost always what works best for families and it is so great that someone is actually discussing that! Screen-free time does not have to be all or nothing (as I have tried to emphasize since the start of this blog). Do what works for your family.
If you live in the Mid-Atlantic or Southeastern U.S. you can find out where to pick up a free copy of Breathe by clicking here. If you can’t get a print version, then you can read the full article here.
The August 2010 issue of Family Fun magazine has a great article entitled “The Great Unplugged Challenge” (“Better Than TV” on the cover) about a family who unplugs the TV and computer for 5 days. It would be an interesting and fun read for anyone considering unplugging their family.
Plus, I must admit proudly, that I was interviewed for the article and am mentioned (along with Unplug Your Kids) several times! VERY exciting!!
It’s on news stands now. Enjoy!
(PS. A big thank you to Jennifer King Lindley for writing this article and for including me and Unplug Your Kids!)
One benefit of no TV that had never occurred to me when I began this experiment after the birth of my daughter nine and a half years ago, is the lack of exposure to “sexy teens!” I am shocked sometimes when I see how some teens and tweens, dress and act. I really am not a conservative person, in fact I consider myself to be quite liberal, but I do believe that 9 year-old girls are emotionally girls and NOT women. What ever happened to childhood?
Some might think it backward (please don’t flame me), but I am SO relieved that my 9 1/2 year-old daughter still believes in Santa and the Tooth Fairy. She still plays dress-up and fairies with her little sister and like-minded friends. She is not on Facebook, nor has she ever expressed a desire to be. Don’t berate me for “stunting” my daughter’s social and technological development. Believe me, I am sure she will “develop socially” as soon as those hormones hit her system! She also knows how to use a computer just fine thank you.
There are certainly many factors involved. Her stage of physical development, her personality, and the fact that she attends a very small Montessori School all surely play a role. But I do truly also believe that part of the fact that she has not yet become interested in “popular teen culture” is that she is not exposed to TV shows and commercials that cause her to emulate those behaviors.
My good friend friend just sent me a link to a review of an interesting-sounding book by Leonard Sax, the author of Boys Adrift: The Five Factors Driving the Growing Epidemic of Unmotivated Boys and Underachieving Young Men. His new book is about girls: Girls on the Edge: The Four Factors Driving the New Crisis for Girls-Sexual Identity, the Cyberbubble, Obsessions, Environmental Toxins. I urge you to read the review and see what you think.
Meanwhile, I hope that my little girls stay little girls for as long as they need to.
There it is. The Enchanted Bookshelf. It looks pretty ordinary, doesn’t it? And believe me, it is not usually that tidy. Despite its modest appearance, this humble bookshelf has been key in inspiring my 7 year-old son to read.
The bookcase is right next to his bed, within arm’s reach. He doesn’t even have to get out of bed to pull a book off the shelf. I keep it well-stocked with a varied supply of books of different degrees of difficulty.
Obviously I make sure that there are many books at his reading level. I also throw in some that are more difficult in order to pique his interest and tempt him to challenge himself. I add a few that are below his level for those days when he wants to breeze through an old favorite. I’d rather have him read something a little easy on occasion, than read nothing at all. On the bottom shelf I put a few big, heavy kids’ encyclopedias and books with lots of photographs that are fun and interesting to leaf through.
The shelf’s spell has brought my son’s reading level from barely Bob Books last fall to beyond the Magic Tree House Series (by Mary Pope Osborne) in just one year. In fact he recently devoured Vacation Under the Volcano non-stop and proudly announced that he has now read all 28 books in the original Magic Treehouse Series. For the last few nights, he has read The Children of Noisy Village (by Astrid Lindgren). Now he appears to have moved on to Lindgren’s Pippi Longstocking, which is one of the more challenging temptations on the shelf.
If you want to give this a try, here are some tips:
- Shelf must be within arm’s reach of bed and preferably facing the bed so the titles are easily visible.
- Vary the reading level. Most books should be at your child’s current level, plus some more difficult books, and some easier books.
- A basket of children’s magazines on the top is a nice touch and adds even more variety to the reading selections.
- Don’t let the shelf stagnate. Keep restocking with new books as your child’s skills improve.
- If there is a TV in your child’s room, get rid of it so reading is the ONLY available activity in bed! (Plus, the electromagnetic waves from the TV will suck all the magical energy out of the Enchanted Shelf. :-) )
I am depriving my children of an “essential good.”
In Brazil, I might be prosecuted in court. Did anyone hear this little NPR blurb yesterday?
A Brazilian man missed out on soccer matches, the news and a “popular reality show,” when a store did not replace his faulty TV. The judge found in favor of the man, ruling that in modern times, TV is an “essential good.”
Are those of us who do not have TV in our homes, guilty of child abuse? Are we depriving our little ones of an “essential good?”
What about those whose children (TV in the house or not) miss Sponge Bob, Hannah Montana and PBS. OK, Sponge Bob and Hannah Montana are arguable…but PBS? What about Discovery? Is censorship of our children depriving them of an “essential good?”
Am I depriving my children of educational/cultural experiences by not having TV at all?
I wish we could elect to get a few select Discovery Channel, National Geographic, PBS, History Channel shows without receiving all the other stuff. But even those channels can be edgy at times. We were away recently and the only thing on History (or was it Discovery?) was the history of torture devices. Another of those educational channels had a show about Hitler.
I am not depriving my children by having a TV-free home. Culturally they get a lot on the playground: they know about Sponge Bob and Hannah Montana. As far as education goes, my kids get a huge amount of that from school and reading books, just like kids did before TV.
Am I depriving my children of an “essential good?” Personally, I think not.