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Thursday, September 10, 2009

(Fresh) Air Time

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One day my high school English teacher gave us the assignment to watch the news and write a summary of a current event. The Shy Girl in class raised her hand. "Um, we don't watch T.V. at my house. Can I get a current event from the paper instead?"

A collective gasp sounded throughout the classroom. No T.V.?! What did they do at home? The rumor mill started at lunch... They must be one of those families who only eat organic food, and no meat... I bet they don't have electricity... I heard her mom makes all of her clothes... Someone said they have goats and chickens in their yard... The Shy Girl's family from then on was known as The Weird Family (With No T.V.).

Which brings me to my point. These days, my family is our local Weird Family. We stopped watching T.V. quite a few years back. We do own a T.V., but we only use it for watching movies and occasionally playing a round of RockBand. We are often asked why we would do this. How can we deprive our children (and ourselves!) of television?

Easy. You just turn it off and watch the magic happen.

There is suddenly more time for other things. Things like enjoying the great outdoors. Things like spontaneous lip syncing and impulsive dancing in the dining room. Things like homework and yard work and music and sports and sewing and cooking and reading and writing. Things like art projects and service projects. Things like building forts and building friendships and building amazing Lego creations.

Things that require action and imagination and learning.

Things that didn't happen as often when we had the television turned on.

Do I ever wish we had TV? I won't lie... YES. (Oh YESYESYESYES sometimes!!) But the pros far outweigh the cons. So, "The Weird Family" we remain.

And it's awesome.

10 comments:

Blogful said...

Most non-tv folks are full of "negative media" complaints. I like your take.

Val said...

We have four girls and a son. The girls came first. For the majority of their grade school and jr. high years we allowed no television except for movies just as you indicated and for the very same reasons you chose. Our greatest moments were our family skits. Our family is famous in our church congregation for making that stand. Some time I will share my stories of television control? after I have them edited. The teaser will be the titles: Blue Light In The Chicken Coop & Blue Mother Ghost With Sledge Hammer ValJeanVal

Camille said...

I moved into my house a year ago and have only turned on the tv 1 time in the year. I watched President give his opening speech. Other than that- I've only watched a handful of movies. I really enjoy your take on this topic. I feel the exact same.
I feel bad for people who are addicted to shows and don't even know what's going on in the life of their family members.
I hope when I have a family and children I'll still be able to stay strong and say "no tv." You're a great example.

Teachinfourth said...

I couldn't agree more! I don't own a TV (I do own a projector and a DVD player) so do watch movies from time to time, but mindless TV drivel? There's far too much to do in life without the tube sucking away my life.

One of the high points in the school year for my fifth grade class is our "Turn of the TV and get a life challenge." The kids are to turn off the TV, video games, and everything related unto them for one week's time...they find themselves amazed at just how much time they have during that week.

Val...I remember those 'non-TV days' of your family and wait with anticipation the epic tale which will undoubtedly come...

Gerb said...

Blogful - Thanks. And thanks for reading!

Val - Jason may have shared a tale or two with me. Suffice it to say, I would love having you as a neighbor. We must meet!

Camille - I have found that my kids actually enjoy not having the TV. When one wants to see the finale of a show (like American Idol) we let them go watch at a friend's house. It has been an awesome change.

T5th- I believe it was one such "Get a Life" week which prompted our leaving the TV off. We haven't looked back, and it's been amazing.

~j. said...

When we first moved into our house a little over six years ago, we brought our TV, but did not purchase any reception (it simply wasn't in the budget; all TV reception in our previous apartments had been included in our rent). After 2 years, we got Dish Network, main reason being that I wanted my kids to be able to see who was speaking at General Conference, rather than just listening to the voices on the radio.

And I'll be honest here, knowing that due to the topic of this post I'll be in the stark minority -- I love TV. I watch it almost everyday. Having a DVR makes me a better mom. As a family we do have standards as to what we watch, and certainly what we don't watch, but I have few restrictions on the television. For me, in my childhood, television was, occassionally, as a punishment, forbidden...having it be The Fruit, you can probably guess into what the obsession quickly turned: HOW soon can we watch again?!

My kids happen to be very physically active, creative, great readers, social, and bright. They also have preferred shows, but none that they absolutely Can't Miss. And, yes, there are days (and even stretches of days) when the TV isn't turned on at all. But most days, it's on.

I guess my point here is that television sometimes gets a bum rap. If this comment weren't already approaching novel-length, I'd share more specific examples of the benefits it has brought to our family (to name two: watching church leaders' talks, and teaching us the basics of signing at a time when we desperately needed to learn it). I have many, many beloved friends and family members who have chosen to not watch TV (like you, Gerb, as well as my BestFriendBrother and his family), and that's great - I absolutely support them in their choices, knowing that their motivation is simply (and admirably) to do what is right for their own families. I just hope that when people choose, or comment about, this lifestyle that they won't generalize to say that if not watching TV is good, than watching TV must be bad.

Gerb said...

~j.- Agreed. I have never thought anyone to be bad (or even making a bad choice) for watching TV. In fact, as I mentioned, there are times I wish we did have TV because I hear of a show that I would LOVE to watch. For your family, TV has been a great thing - for ours, it has been a great thing NOT to have. We used to drag out the antenna twice a year to watch conference but are no longer able to do so - and that's okay for us.

When I was a child, the TV taught me to speak. Every morning my mom would set my little brother and I down in front of Sesame Street, Electric Company, Romper Room, Land of the Lost... and that was how we learned to properly pronounce words and formulate sentences. TV was our school, and in our family's circumstance it was just what the doctor ordered. My brother and I can still quote word-for-word some of my favorite episodes and commercials, and I think it is awesome.

So, anyway, you're right - generalizations are never good. Thanks so much for your comment. I enjoy discussions on other perspectives of my ideas.

mom not mum said...

wonderful things happen when we turn off the tv and play. My kids have opted for a box all week long. Not the box that is connected to the cable and electricity but a box. A glorious box that our grill came in. It's the hardest cardboard and has actually been IN our family room for 2 weeks. It is huge. Sure, it might be in the way - it's not very pretty - but it is fun. You can do puppet shows, have secret club meetings, torture the cat and the list goes on. You know, all those things that don't happen with the "other" box.

hintonrae said...

Gerb--just read this and had to smile. I hope you know my "Glee" response was tongue-in-cheek--I don't actually pity you! ;) I'm with J, though--I love my DVR. My kids actually end up watching tv fairly infrequently; with their school, church, and sports schedules, there's simply not time to watch more than maybe an hour or two a week. But DVR has simplified things so tremendously for me, making it possible to view a show at any time (while doing chores like laundry, for example, or ironing, or answering emails and things like that). It's wonderful for my personality, because I can't stand to not multi-task. (I'm multi-tasking right now, as a matter-of-fact... :)

I respect your and other non-tv viewers' decision immensely. I'd have to completely move out of my comfort zone to adopt the same.

It's funny, btw, that Jason doesn't have a tv and inspired your decision...my brother-in-law is a history teacher and until a few weeks ago was a confirmed bachelor and doesn't want anything to do with a tv, either. I think they'd get along quite well.

Gerb said...

MnM- We love boxes around here, too. They can turn into some pretty magical things! Our most recent box was the Magic Treehouse (like the one in the book series) and "Jack and Annie" traveled all over the world to places in history. It was a beautiful thing.

L- If we had TV I would totally be a DVR person. I also must be multi-tasking all the time. I read books while eating, clean my house and do laundry while on the phone... YOU know what I mean. And BTW, what did you think of Glee's first episode?

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