I get asked a lot why I have chosen to have a television-free household. It wasn’t always this way. I have been a closet Young and the Restless viewer off and on for decades (don’t judge me, OK), I can quote Seinfeld and Friends with the best of them, and from time to time, I still ask an imaginary Willis what he is talking about. I irritated my dad by being glued to Doogie Howser, MD, I solved mysteries with the dorks from The X Files, and I went through QUITE the Walker, Texas Ranger stage.
My aversion to television started when I lived in Hawaii. It was everything that you dreamed it might be; stunning, natural, and with countless things to go outside and do. Television naturally faded from my priority list. Then, along came the babies. I strongly agree with the American Academy of Pediatrics when it comes to their position on television viewing for babies, saying that the first two years of life are so critical to brain development that TV watching stunts part of that development (this isn’t a soapbox, I promise! I’ll get to my point!).
TV also turned out to be a big relationship killer for me. You know that feeling of love and respect you get when someone pushes pause, turns to look at you impatiently, listens out of duty, and then gets that happy look again when they get to push the play button? Yeah. I don’t want my children to ever have that warm and fuzzy feeling that I was given!
When I get right down to it, I’m a time waster. I can slug-out in front of a screen better than anyone and having a television isn’t good for me. With no TV, I don’t have to monitor myself, much less the kids. Now, I spend plenty of time with my computer, so I can’t say that I am screen free. Not even close. Yep, I’m the one at the park who is scrolling on her phone while the kids are playing, so I stand on NO moral high ground. My son has a LeapPad and some weeks I’m also not above finding an episode of Dora the Explorer on YouTube so that I can Just. Take. A. Shower. The difference, for me, is not having that big black box beckoning to me as a centerpiece in my home. The media decisions that I make need to be deliberate.
As the kids are getting older, I recognize that television can play a positive role in our lives when used correctly. I love that my kids haven’t been so bombarded by crap that they are THRILLED when we watch a documentary together about the biggest crocodile in the world. A friend of mine took them to a pizza place to watch a Seahawks game and now my oldest is a big fan and was so excited for our Super Bowl party (don’t worry…it’s at my boyfriend’s house, people tend to be real jerks when you invite them to a Super Bowl party and you don’t have a television). I am gaining more perspective on television and the children and they are at an age now when I can teach them to be discriminating in what they consume. We talk about how commercials try to make you buy things that you don’t need and how advertisers try to trick you (for the record, my boyfriend also worries that I may be raising tiny weirdos). Like any parent, I want my kids to fit in with their peers, so they will need just enough pop culture exposure to be able to carry on conversations. When they were invited to a Disney Planes birthday party, they knew exactly what it was and played along and had a great time. How? Because we had read the BOOK.
Time is speeding by me at a rate that absolutely terrifies me and I simply hate wasting any of it, because obviously, trolling a Facebook page of someone that I went to 7th grade with is a better use of my screen time. Obviously. We won’t always be a television-free household, but I believe in what I have done, the start I have given my children, and the gift of time that I have given to myself.
FULL DISCLOSURE: Someone recently GAVE me a television that I’m going to hook our Wii Fit up to. But that’s it. No, I mean it. Quit laughing! I’m serious! Was that an eye roll I just saw??
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