Going TV Free

OK everyone BREATH, we are not going fully screen free, nor maybe, technically not even 100% ‘television’ free; depending on your definition of terms.  I know moms that have screen free homes, or home 100% free of screen during the school week.  I do not think we’ll go that far; ‘viewing’ is too much of a momma tool for me.  If I need to make phone calls, or load the van without help, or … a Curious George or Clifford is a great way to keep them centered in the living room, if not actually ‘sitting still watching it’.  They have shows I like (Penguins of Madagascar for example); and a bit of TV time at night, in PJs cuddled with daddy is a strong part of our wind down routine too.  Thus the reality is I doubt we are ever screen free here.

In March the family is going to have Direct TV shut off; as we are unable to get broadcast due to our location – there shall be no ‘incoming TV’.  We will continue to view DVDs and maybe be, maybe getting some option for streaming video (Netflix or something).  Nevertheless this choice will help us limit the amount of ‘viewing’ time the boys have, it will help us curtail even more what they view and guard against accidental viewing.  Any added degree of effort makes it more likely Momma or Daddy will think and maybe choose some other option; it will make viewing a choice and not an easy default. 

There is no smoking gun behind Daddy and I making this choice for our family and it has been a time in coming.  Part “school minded” and part “parenting” though in truth the two are one and the same and can not be separated; the choice is not easy but seems right.  There is an aspect of it related to our seeking more structure and more meat for our days (as I have blogged about before); and part of the choice can be traced to my own goals for my mothering and how Daddy and I want our family.  I can see where I want myself and our family, and we are not there, this will push us in the right direction, I hope by making us more intentional in our activity.  I want a house of books and directed activity, not passive intake.  We want a home that maintains a high level of standards and morals.  A family that interacts and it bonded, not independent connected to technology. 

A recent appraisal of our family, the use of the boys time and their attitudes and behavior as well as the reality of our walk left us feeling less that outstanding.  Simply put there is nothing really wrong, but also nothing extremely right either.  Changes need to be made, or adjustments anyway. 

I (we) have remained mostly cautious about what viewing we allow quality wise, but the quantity has gotten out of hand.  Bad Momma.  I realize we are falling into a habit of ‘TV as back ground company” (what Momma did when she lived alone) and I do not want the boys to have that habit.  We should be enjoying the company of our family, not the drone of a screen.  We are missing the opportunity to wrap ourselves in more music by having the TV on all the time, also.  Home schooling means they will be in the home / at home and ‘TV as company’ is not good habit for them; furthermore it one that could be very disadvantageous to them in higher education.  It is too easy to have it on too much; the more it is on the more unacceptable material can become common.  In a year or two as we venture in to more challenging academic here that habit could potentially really be detrimental to us.  Rather than fight the fight then, and have the boys view “school” as responsible, we choose to take that step now. 

I have also, again Bad Momma, noticed my standards are slipping on what the boys are seeing / watching.  This is very unacceptable to me personally.  They have started viewing too much that is “not offensive” but not really edifying or anything I desire for them to be exposed to either.  Dinosaur Train on PBS  is a good example; it is not offensive for any real reason, but it is just baseline – it is not special it is just filler, there is no reason that it should not be watched, but more importantly there is no good reason TO watch it.  Martha Speaks is another example; certainly not ‘bad” but nothing extra special and nothing I explicitly desire to have in the house, it is not something I’d seek out.  A third problem I have noticed is ‘extraneous exposure’ commercials and promos and so on that they boys are viewing; many of which I DO have specific issues with or find offensive or not age appropriate.  Some I am actually just amazed by.  I make a real effort to fast forward though commercials in anything we DVR off non-PBS channels, but if you slip up at all the material you risk being blasted into your house is anything but acceptable for family viewing.  Example:  we recorded Ghost Busters for the boys; yes, it is PG movie but one we thought that Big Brother especially would find funny.  The commercials shown during the movie blow my mind:  including cuss words, drug images and jokes that were not just sexual but regarded deviant sexual activities.  This was recorded done on a Saturday afternoon; not like ten pm, and these commercials were shown.  The commercialism (constant toy commercials); the advertisements for junk food and food they can not have, and the inappropriate material they are exposed to incidentally is simply not acceptable.  If we watch a dog show on History or TLC the commercials for shows about people seeking gender surgery or ‘addicted to sex’ (or drugs) open many doors we do not feel need should be open, at this age.  So we need a serious reality check related to the amount of TIME and also the choices made. 

In a way this is more about Momma than about the boys.  No more laziness, less chance of popping on a show and letting it go.  This is a lot more about Momma adding structure to her own life, more about forcing Momma’s hand into adding ‘meat’ to the day.  Less TV = more books, more directed activities, more of the reasons we have the boys home (and I am home).  Less TV = more thought on the part of Momma. 

We are not going screen free, the boys will have DVDs (and Momma and Daddy too).  We will also be adding to the boy’s DVD library, little by little, with the money saved from the TV bill.  PBS can be seen on the computer if Momma so chooses; as can many other things.  Currently, I strongly limit the boys computer time, Little has none and while Big is allowed – by daddy – to view videos on occasion – he is not allowed to play on the computer at all.  My idea has always been no computer (games, websites, etc) till over 7; so while we may watch a small amount on the computer (via steaming video, youtube or websites) it will be very limited.  Daddy is thinking about / looking into netflix or some other option for streaming or instantly downloading movies and TV and viewing on the TV; that is an option we are not sure about yet.  There is still much to research, think about and decide on. 

Nonetheless; come the end of March Madness, the incoming television will stop.  I am really excited (ask me in early March and I may have a different response, :)).



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10 responses to “Going TV Free

  1. Crystal

    Good luck with this! You are brave!

  2. Congratulations! I am really glad for you coming to this decision. We have been tv free two – or is it three? – years now, and it is one of the best decisions we’ve made, for all the reasons you have stated. 🙂

    • i just feel it is the time, the boys are already 3 and 5. for a long time they did not notice, they are starting to — i desire to make the change now before it is more of a fight.

      But I freely admit, it is not going to be Screen free — Momma uses it as a tool way too much for that.

  3. We’re cutting off our very basic (but $30/mo) cable after the superbowl. Bye, bye, Martha speaksandspeaksandspeaksandspeaksannnnnndSpeaks! 🙂 We’re in the boat with you. I wish I could say that Lil Pea didn’t get computer time, but she is an ADDICT and DH supports it. Erg!

    • Neither of mine get to “do” anything on the computer — no jeys, no mouse, nada — Big earns viedos of superheros — I HATE it, they are not pre-viewed — if i could have a “safe” list he could choose from I’d be a lot happier — i hate the random chance — let’s face it a lot of them are made by or aimed at teen males and young 20’s males .. need i say more

      I hate it, but I canb’t control Daddy’s choices.

      Marth Speaks and Word Girl are going to drive me NUTS

      I need this kick in teh butt as much as the boys do

  4. heh heh started to write a response here but decided it was getting long enough I would just write my own big post about this subject. stay tuned …

    though I will say quick that we love martha speaks, word girl, electric co because for us, they are making a noticeable difference in vocabulary, spelling, reading. we dont watch every day, or probably even every week, though.

  5. We got rid of our Directv over a year ago… just too expensive (sure you get a promo rate, but after 3 or 4 months a basic package is costing you $90+ with all the taes and junk… and we didn’t even watch 1/2 the channels anyway… only ones we did watch were Discovery channels, FoodNetwork, HGTV, Disney and a couple of other kiddie channels that had Dora and such, occassionally we watched BBC (mostly husband), RFDtv (farm channel… Charlie liked for tractors and such… Rob and I sometimes watched for Equine Sports events… him rodeo, me jumping and dressage) and we watched FoxNews and local news… mainly for weather info/school closings (but you can’t get ten or so channels of your choice at this point)… We rarely if ever watched any of the sports channels, except maybe the Olypmics (most of which was broadcast on Network tv anyway)or any of the stuid “music” channels (except around Christmastime, we’d sometimes listen to the holiday one while doing housework.) I agree there is just way too much tv access available and commercials are horrible (I suppose they do have their purpose for the business making them obviously, but most are way too much info, especially for young people.)

    On the other hand… husband either grew up with a “need” for tv viewing or something or developed it in the 2 years when he was alone (just him and the dog) between the time his ex-wife left him and he met me. I on the other hand grew up with prolonged periods where my family did not have tv (not that my dad was a real active participant in family activities during that time unless it involved hunting, fishing or automotive stuff, he was usually busy with his own activities or hobbies, but my mother read to us almost constantly until we are able to do so ourselves.) When my parents divorced and my step-dad entered the family, we spent a great deal of time playing board-games and such as a family. Monopoly became the way we taught my then 4 year old “middle brother” about math. Summers were spend playing outdoors with siblings and neighbors or playing card games (Uno and the like) indoors with siblings and neighbors, the baby-sitter or the babysitter’s teenage kids. Personally, for the most part, I’d still rather read or play games as a family than watch tv, even though I do enjoy certain tv shows, news and movies (I tend to be fairly selective in this area, as there are certain actors I absolutely cannot stand, like Leo DiCaprio & Sean Penn, for political reasons.)

    With the kids we are trying something new “tv” viewing (whether on tv or computer) as a reward. Charlie is very resistant to homework and chores. Having him “earn” his viewing time through doing required tasks seems to be working for now. Otherwise I restrict viewing to selected dvd’s or tv programs while I am trying to make supper and right before bedtime (wind-down time)… I try to mostly restrict these times to something educational (something from scientific channels/shows, and the kids do like this sort of thing, especially dinosaur stuff) or “boring for children” like News channels. (Here we have some differences of opinion between husband and wife, because hubby would rather watch sitcoms or cartoons geared toward teens and adults that are somewhat inappropriate for kids… Last week there was an incidnence with “Family Guy”… which is entirely inappropriate for youngster redardless of the show’s title.)

    After over a year w/o tv except for CBS (which we got on our old tv w an antanea) and watching certain favorite shows like Food Networks programing, Iron Chef, Good Eats and the like on the computer, we finally found a solution to some of the tv viewing issues husband was having (basically he was Jonesing for the lack there of.) Rob discovered a streaming tv/video option called a Roku device. http://www.roku.com to learn more about it. You could choose some specific types of channels off a list they have (quite a few were Christian “church” channels, sports, home and garden etc). You can use the device to sign-up and recieve Netflicks, Amazon On Demand when you want to rent or buy movies/shows and you can also sign-up for and use a streaming tv thing called Hulu (Hulu is only about $7/month… true a lot of it is older tv programs, but that’s not all bad considering how liberal tv is becoming… not a lot in the way of cartoons, but plenty of educational stuff… 37 seasons of NOVA, science show from PBS.. for example… tons of really old movies etc. as well as some popular tv programs that are currently running on tv or have in the last 10 years or so). Hulu and Netflicks together run about $16 a month and cover most of what families would watch anyway. Also the Roku unit works even with older televisions and does not require the new-fangled internet adapted blue-ray players. The Roku unit can be purchased online, but we were able to find one locally at RadioShack for $89 (less than the cost of an internet capable blue-ray player.) Hulu has very limited amount of commercials (commercial breaks are about 1 minute or less, often only about 20 seconds… seriously if you have to go to the bathroom, better pause the show) and there seem to be fewer objectional commercials on it (a few too many “enviromentalism ones”for my taste… but I’ve seen very few for foods/medications (although the “snack foods” catagory seems to be picking up with the SuperBowl only a couple weeks away… mostly wheat thins and oreos), otherwise most of hte commercials are car insurance (Geico mostly… and okay, so I am amused by the Gieco Geeko), adverts for wind energy, electric cars, various charities and animal rights groups… but at least they are very short and this is usuly when we get up for a potty break. Many less commercials for objectional tv programs like on network and cable stations. All in all it’s not a bad option for having limited tv available in the house… and if you have a laptop and wireless connection available while traveling you can take it with you as well. And it’s much more affordable than cable or satilite tv options where you get standard package of 150 channels or whatever supposedly for $39 but it really costs about $90/month and you only watch 10-20 channels anyway.

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