We removed the television on Sunday.
No TV, no DVDs, no Wii, no PlayStation, no nothing.
Or, as Smasher says: “NOTHING AT ALL!”
I shared this news on social media, and as always, had an interesting response. “Brave’ was the word my sister chose, where as my grandmother told me television was a necessity for winter (it gets cold and damp here in the north-east, so that’s understandable reasoning). But when the negative impact outweighs the practical use, it’s time for it to go.
Truth is, our kids are little tech-addicts. They ask for television first thing in the morning. They ask for television throughout the day. They ask for television the second they get home. And when their requests are met with a firm “no”, it’s on to DVDs, gaming consoles, PC etc, etc.
That all sounds pretty normal though, right? Kids love the technology! Sure, of course they do. Thing is though, it got beyond just nagging. Here’s an example of what’s gone on in recent times:
Saturdays in our house are tidy-up days. The kids are asked to tidy their bedrooms (with help for the toddler) including make beds, de-clutter their bench tops and clear and vacuum the floor. Now that may be harsh if I didn’t help maintain their bedrooms throughout the week, but I do. So the rule is tidy up before gaming consoles and TV time. The Saturday gone by was no different, and we did not like it. I had a jar of instant coffee emptied and thrown on my floor, the calendar ripped off the wall, everything in their path kicked, thrown, tossed or destroyed (including a couple of clothes-horses) … I could go on. We ended up removing technology privileges for the day – which turned into the weekend – which turned into permanently as the behavior continued into Sunday morning.
Mean? Of course.
Turns out when there is no option for television or PlayStation, the kids play together. They play outside. They find other things to do. They help out a little. Of course the nagging is still there, but that wasn’t my core concern. We all needed a little detox. And we’re going to continue on until the school term ends.
What I’m finding most interesting, actually, is my own response to not having the television there. It’s kind of like when I quit smoking – where did all this extra time come from? What do we do?! The answers are obvious – more making, playing, writing, and so on. But in the moment, it’s a little daunting. What do you do with a toddler for that hour or two in the afternoon? What do you do when the baby refuses to settle in the evening?!
Not having a television in the house seems to be viewed as strange, like we’re withholding a crucial part of life from our family. I struggle with this a little, to be honest. In the past I’ve had comments implying that we’re too harsh on the kids. Though, at the same time we seem to be told by society that we’re a weaker generation spoiling the next. So if someone could come up with the perfect guide to parenting so we could settle this once and for all, that would be awesome please and thank you.
At least my lounge-room is happy.
*** I’d like to note that we still have the computer, a portable DVD player and a tablet available when needed, and Boo has her own portable gaming device. We haven’t gone all Amish on their butts like we keep threatening! ***