Raising Children Without TV
Sometime today, the house got quiet… like real quiet. The motormouth had stopped motoring for a few moments and I went looking to see what sort of trouble my three year old was getting into. When I found her, she was sitting on the couch, glued to my iPhone playing some numbers and letters learning app. She was 100% sucked into the screen. Check for signs of life, if you know what I mean.
She doesn’t play with my phone too often. Sometimes she plays with it more than others and she goes through phases of wanting to use it. If Art’s downloaded a cool new app for her, she’s likely to ask to play with it a little more often than usual. But, when the ‘new-ness’ of an app has worn off, she sometimes won’t ask to use the phone for up to a couple of weeks. I don’t mind her using the phone too much, because it’s slightly interactive (okay, I know, we’re only talking finger-interactive, but still) it requires her to think and the images don’t move too fast. Also, since I use my phone for just about everything; GPS, text messages, Google reference, camera, and yes, the occasional *phone* call, it would be really hypocritical of me to tell her that she can’t use it sometimes also. So, I let it slide… a little… although I certainly don’t offer the phone to her as a form of entertainment. I’m not crazy about letting her use the phone, but the thing that I’m glad we don’t have for her to use, is a TV.
Our TV lives in the closet. When we moved to our place, the television set came along with the house. Margo was about 3 months old at the time and we had entertainment enough just watching and taking care of her. After a couple months of the TV just sitting there taking up space and collecting dust, one day, I asked Art if it was okay if I just put it in the closet. He said, ‘fine‘. It’s not like we don’t have computers, so we do have screens in the house, if we need one. So, the TV went into the closet and it’s been there for over three years. I certainly don’t miss it at all. I guess I used to like watching documentaries and a few other learning or discovery type shows and of course, ‘The Simpsons‘ (but you can watch those on-line).
Just to note, I actually grew up, mostly, with a TV. Well, we had a TV in the house so we could watch videos, but more often than not the cable was not hooked up. So, my parents had a very exact idea of what my brothers and I were being exposed to through the TV. I will admit it probably made me feel like a bit of an oddball in our close knit small town community. I distinctly remember how I felt to not have a TV when I was in 3rd grade when ‘The Simpsons’ was new and all the rage (as it should be, The Simpsons is the greatest TV show EVER). I didn’t know who everyone was talking about… Who was Lisa? Who was Bart? What was Springfield? And I thought my parents were the most evil parents in the world because we didn’t have cable TV!
People would ask in shock and horror, ‘If you don’t have a TV, what do you do?!’ Well… that was easy… I read books, I learned how to sew, I went outside, I played sports, I became a runner, I *pathetically* dabbled some musical instruments, like piano (I say pathetic because they rest of my family are very musically inclined and I’m a bit of a black sheep in the family in the music department). I’m sure I complained that I was bored as a kid sometimes, but I think that’s pretty normal with or without TV.
When I went to uni I really didn’t have a TV around and was way too busy doing a duel degree and being captain of the sailing team, learning to surf and getting into yoga and meditation to watch any TV. It was only a couple years after uni that I even started to watch any TV and it was okay but I certainly was never hooked. I noticed too that when I did watch a lot of TV, I would often feel really disconnected with reality, and would feel really low about myself. Even if what I was watching was something ‘educational’ or ‘discovery’, it would still make me feel weird, tired and disconnected. I can’t really explain it fully, but it wasn’t a very pleasant feeling and was very draining.
Watching movies was not much better either, I found that after watching movies made me feel even more disconnected from reality and low. Then, the plot from the movie would be trailing in my head, over and over and over for days, sometimes weeks. Actually, I’ve heard once that it takes 14 meditations to ‘remove’ a movie from your consciousness… well, since I meditate 2x a day, that means it takes at least a week to get rid of it from running circles in my head! Wow!
So, I’ve taken my experience of having a non-cable TV childhood, plus my more recent experiences of doing daily meditation and have decided to not have a TV in the house. Maybe as the kids grow up, then it’s okay but when that brain is still developing all the little synopsis and pathways, maybe it’s okay to just get their entertainment from other sources. I’m not saying TV is bad, but I think that young kid’s brains are very fragile and vulnerable. They say that something like 95% of the brain pathways develop before a child turns 3! It’s probably not an easy route as a parent, to not have a TV. Some days, Margo is just blabbing my ear off and I just wish that she would go do something without needing my attention. We live in a society where we’re very isolated and we don’t have much or any family support, and sometimes being at home all day with kids can be enough to drive you insane. I honestly understand when I hear that people put their kids in front of the tube for an hour or more a day. I could use an hour of ‘de-pressurizing’ a day for sure! But there I go again, doing everything the ‘hard’ way.
Although, when I look at it, even though there are moments when I think how easy it would be to just stick her in front of a TV for a moment or two, I’m glad that I don’t. She certainly doesn’t know that she’s ‘missing out’ on a TV. She has far too much fun wrecking the house and making a huge mess with her million scientific experiments. When I can sense that the troops are getting restless, I pack them up and we go do something outside.
Do your kids watch TV?
Do you think you could live without it?
Do you think I’m crazy?!?!