Monday, April 30, 2007

TV Turn Off Week's End

Yesterday I broke down and let the boys watch a Bob The Builder DVD. We stayed home from church because Buddy is still recovering and I didn't want him exposed to any germs so we hadn't been away from home all weekend. We spent the morning outside in the yard, me mowing, trimming and weeding and them messing around in the dirt and getting chased out of the garden when they stepped on my flowers. I've noticed that it is somewhat frustrating trying to get garden work done with a two year old helping you.

I flipped the switch on the surge protector and put in the DVD so I could clean up the kitchen and fix lunch without interference. What I really notice about TV this week is that it is a chance to have a break from their needing me. Punkin is old enough now that he gets interested in the show and stays out of mischief for at least ten or fifteen minutes when the TV is on. Without it he is climbing on chairs to pull things off the high shelves as soon as my back is turned.

We watched the same Bob video in the late afternoon. I was really tired and wanted to take a break so I turned it on and sat in our big comfy armchair. The boys are a little like cats - as soon as I sit down they run to climb up on my lap. I like sitting there with them all snuggled together. Punkin squirms around a lot trying to get comfortable and they argue over who has the biggest piece of me when I am reading to them like that. But when the TV is on they sit still for at least ten minutes. I can stare out the window and daydream or think about stuff without constant questions. It's nice to have that relaxing time with them.

The things I don't like about TV are the focus on commercialism, the stereotypes, the way it dulls your brain. The kids videos we watch now may be fine, and even a little educational. But the habit of watching, when learned this young, effects brain development and sets them up for all the media older kids, teens and adults end up spending so much time watching. I would rather invest the time and energy into giving them creative free play time that will train their brains in more thoughtful directions.

With my oldest son Buster my strategy was one of inoculation. I thought if I let him watch some controlled TV/media, just enough so he isn't deprived of the social connections, but block out the worst of the negative influences while at the same time modeling the target behavior, he would grow up with a healthy balance. The target behavior is to be connected and involved in the world using media as a tool but independent enough of it's influences to stay an alert, independent and creative thinker. For the most part I think that worked. Although he has a PlayStation he doesn't use it much or invest in buying new games. He rarely turns on the TV. He is always on the computer, however, so I don't know how that plays into it. I'd rather be online than watch TV too of course.

Anyway, here is a list of all the positives I see this week in not watching TV in our house:
  1. More time to relax, play, garden, talk, read together
  2. The boys spent time drawing and writing with crayons, markers, pencils
  3. They played with the trains and blocks and doll house more
  4. They played together more
  5. I didn't feel as rushed or stressed in the evening
  6. I enjoyed my house and garden the way it is, instead of thinking I need new carpets, all new furniture, etc.
  7. I didn't think about shopping much
  8. We didn't see pictures of the war, murders, violent crime, etc. every night after dinner
  9. I felt more peaceful and content and connected to my boys
  10. I read them about six books a day instead of two or three
Yesterday when I told Buddy I was going to put a DVD in he said, "Does that mean it is TV turn ON week now? YAY! TV turn on week!" I guess he missed it a little.


Gawdessness said...

I have really enjoyed your tv off journey.
I posted my own thingy on this topic and I nominated you for a thinking blogger award.

cloudscome said...

Girlfriend! I didn't know you had a new blog! How did I miss that? And you have been talking about me over there! I just stumbled on it at technorati. You are too much.

Mom Unplugged (formerly "Mom of 3") said...

Thanks so much for joining in on the TV Turn-Off Week Challenge despite your post-op child. I hope he is getting back to normal now.

Your posts have been very informative. I really like your list of "positives." You bring up some great points.

Buddy's comment made me laugh and makes me think that every week but one should be TV Turn-Off Week and then we could have just one TV TURN-ON week per year!!

I am glad to have "met" you and thanks for sharing your experiences with us.