Posts tagged: TV-free families

TV is an “Essential Good”

By , February 5, 2009 9:33 pm

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.

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.

Practical TV-Free Ideas

By , April 19, 2008 9:19 am

Wow! Thursday was my biggest day ever thanks to all the people searching for information about TV-Turnoff Week. I actually had to upgrade my account in order to avoid exceeding my bandwidth! I only went from “Baby” to “Hatchling” … so I am really not THAT big time, but it was certainly a huge surprise for me.

Today I had planned a post with some alternative ideas to TV, so with this kind of an audience, I guess I had better come up with a few!

Since we are TV-free all the time, I can tell you what my kids like to do:

  • Read
  • Do art projects
  • Play outside
  • Play imaginary games with each other, or by themselves
  • Build with Legos, Knex, or blocks (especially my son) and then create imaginary games
  • Dress-up (also leads to imaginary games)
  • Play board games either with each other or with me
  • Do puzzles
  • Write stories (my 2nd grade daughter)
  • Play with the cats and dogs

Here are some suggestions and elaborations that might inspire you and your children. If anyone has any other ideas, then please comment!

  • We are fortunate to have a great backyard and a swingset…plus a big forested area next door. If you are less well-endowed in the yard department or live in an apartment, then there is always a visit to the park, or playing at a friend’s house, or having a friend over.
  • Be tourists for a day. How about a trip to local attractions such as zoos, aquariums, parks, or playgrounds that you might not have been to yet. Think about tourist attractions that you and your children might enjoy. I don’t know about you, but when I live someplace, I tend not to visit all the attractions for which that location is famous.
  • Bring out some board games and have a family game night. My advice for preserving your sanity: try to pick a game that your children like, but that is not deadly boring for the adult participants. (ie. stay away from Candyland – that one sends me into an immediate coma)
  • Turn on some music and dance (again: pick something you like too or you’ll go crazy!)
  • Try a Kids Cook Night. Pick a recipe that your kids might not ordinarily like. I find that if my kids do the the cooking themselves (with supervision of course), they are more likely to enjoy the meal.
  • Volunteer with your kids (especially if they are older). Habitat for Humanity, your local animal shelter, nursing home, or soup kitchen would probably love to have you help out for a day…plus you’d give your children a bit of perspective and teach them the good feeling that comes from helping others.
  • Wash the dog, or teach him tricks.
  • Teach your kids to knit, crochet, embroider, or french knit…or learn one of these skills together.

Update: Toby Show TV-Reduction Plan

By , April 2, 2008 9:34 am

Be sure to stop by The Toby Show to read Jonah Lisa’s update on how her “7-Step TV Trap Action Plan” is going. Her 7 step program appears to be successful so far, so head over to her site and take notes if you are trying to cut back your children’s TV viewing time too!

(In case you missed it, here is my original post about Jonah Lisa: Cutting Back TV – “OK, But How?”)

TV-Turnoff Week Book Giveaway!

By , April 1, 2008 8:13 pm


In anticipation of TV-Turnoff Week (April 21st-27th), Diane at dkMommy Spot is giving away a copy of the book Living Outside the Box: TV-Free Families Share Their Secrets by Barbara Brock. Please read Diane’s review of this very interesting-sounding book, which is based on a 1999 study of over 500 TV-free families.

I have heard of the study and the results are quite fascinating. This book is definitely on my “to read” list!

Unfortunately I am so behind with my blogging, emailing, etc. (due to my week away – or perhaps simply due to massive disorganization), that I regret to report that Diane’s giveaway ends tomorrow, April 2, at noon EST. Sorry I didn’t get the word out sooner, but you still have time to hurry over to dkMommy Spot, read her review of this very worthwhile book, and leave a comment to be entered in the drawing.

Good luck!

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