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, :)).