A female friend who I treasure wrote this about TV turn off week, which we observed this past week.
In reading her post it made me very much want to call and talk to her, or at least leave a long comment because she has let her guard down and is talking what she really feels on a subject that as a mom, we deal with. I appreciate hearing it.
And following my friend, I am going to let my guard down a little bit too about the TV set in the life of my child.
If you are also raising kids, please don’t take my comments to include you or to pass any form of judgment. It’s just me, squeaking loudly about my thoughts and feelings in a place where I should be able to do just that from time to time.
We observed TV turn off week. I chose to do so despite my 4 year old reaching needy peaks of my attention and pushing my patience to the limit in recent weeks (Mom, why is it raining? Mom, why is there mail? Mom, why is there dirt? Mom, why are you thirsty? Mom, why is there oatmeal? Mom, why is the carpet soft? Mom why is the baby hungry? you get the picture…) It was something I had been thinking about for a long time. Now, at our house we do not have any cable. We watch no TV except what comes in the mail via Netflix. I feel very ok about that. The only time I watch the mind numbing drivel that is on the tube is if I venture across it at the house of an older person, or in a hotel room. In other words, seldom at best.
I do allow DVD’s from the library, but at the risk of sounding like a TV Nazi, I allow her to pick out one of whatever she likes and I usually also pick an education type of DVD. At our library, there are alot of sign language videos. I don’t really expect her to learn it, but I like the idea of her maybe taking it in and if she wants to go with it, she can.
I avoid videos that have themes of monsters, falling in love, potty humor or magical things (except in a cultural context, I have allowed her to watch Spirited Away and Kiki which kinda pushed the envelope).
So until last week, after she turned 2 I let A watch 1/2 to an hour of TV a day. Carefully chosen programming, and carefully oriented in the day to allow me to fix supper. I felt like this was a good compromise, until she would wake up asking to watch TV. And all day long, esp in the winter, she would ask to watch TV. And then there was this fight from her when the TV was turned off. After having this happen for awhile, I started looking for a way out.
Then, if it wasn’t the TV, it was the computer game, which initially felt pretty good about, after all, it was educational, right? Yeah, but it is still a screen.
It went fine. We went to parks and play dates and all the usual stuff and somehow, that TV set just never got turned on. She did ask, and when she did, I told her we weren’t watching TV so that we could spend more time playing (and if I was feeling snarky I told her the TV was rotting her brain).
A doesn’t watch us watch TV. Our TV is off all day unless she watches it. It was only till the last couple days that she quit asking for it.
My thoughts on the subject were that if we completely banned something in our house, she would grow up thinking of it as the “forbidden fruit” and would have an overdeveloped taste for it.
However, if I permit it, lately I have had to navigate her continually asking for it OR being her sole playmate unless there is are friends I can get her together with. Since I am in a new community, I am in a playgroup, but don’t have a huge selection of people to call for trips to the park. (But if it isn’t them playing with her, it is me-or the struggle to continually encourage self entertaining- so I suppose I should just get on that phone, no?)
We just got done painting together, and I have appreciated the lack of her asking to watch TV or play on the computer that has only come after the weekend. So, I guess that scree-free week was a success.
The only time it got dicey was during Spanish tutoring. J had to work, and keep the kids out of my hair while I tutored to girls and their mom. It wasn’t working out very well. I explained to the mom that it was “screen-free” week. She looked a little worried (she has only recently met us) “Scream-free week?” she asked. A little harried from my daughter, I re-enunciated. Later, after all was over and the somewhat taxing time was over, we laughed about scream-free week.
It’s all over now, but I can say I see a definite difference in A’s lack of focus on the TV. She plays all day with her toys and doesn’t as to sit in front of the tube. She asks to go places, but that’s cool. So, I guess it was a good thing.
I can’t stand in a place of righteousness with the TV, and compared to others who wonder what the big fuss is about, I look like a raving lunatic. Thankfully, I hardly care.