How to be a TV free family

June 15, 2012

Last weekend, instead of watching TV for hours (the national average is apparently 4 hours per day!), we took a drive out of the city with friends and lit a campfire and cooked a campfire roast lunch, and our ducklings hatched and we spent hours watching them tumble over and follow their mother around the backyard.

We got rid of our TV about four years ago. It happened gradually, we were renovating, so we put the TV out in the shed temporarily, then a friend, who lives alone and whose need was greater than ours, needed a replacement TV, so we gave him ours — we weren’t using it anyway and we thought we would get a new one when the renovations were done.

In the meantime we started on reading a chapter or two from a family novel in the evenings, we started with the Harry Potter series and by the time the renovations were complete we were up to book two or three in the series and didn’t need a TV just yet. We rearranged the furniture and then thought about a TV, but we liked the lounge room not revolving around the TV, so again we put off the purchase.

Now four years later the subject of a TV does get raised every now and again. We have two pre-teen / teenage kids after all, they sometimes feel left out of conversations at school about the latest tv show, and they want a wii — they might be the only downside to not having a TV — but they have never asked us to buy a tv – we discuss our decision often and they understand and appreciate it.

Without a TV we …

  1. Spend more quality time as a family. Our evening schedule is not dictated to by what TV programs are on. We read our family novels — each taking it in turns, and we play board games, we make a snack platter and have pleasant noise free evenings.
  2. When we do want to watch a family movie — (we have that option as we can watch a dvd on our large computer screen) we watch the movie on our time and on our schedule.
  3. We are not subjected to a constant barrage of advertising, our kids can go into a toy store and not really want anything because they have not been brainwashed into thinking they need this stuff. It is very freeing.
  4. We don’t need to watch the daily news on tv — we have computers, newspapers, the radio. I don’t understand this obsession to be kept up to date with every little depressing thing that is happening in the world.
  5. On weekends and after school the kids don’t just slump down in front of the tv the second they are bored. They have to use their imagination, or enjoy their solitude, and think up games to play, or find a book to read, practice their musical instrument, or get the craft box out and make something.
  6. Of course if you have a computer, you can watch tv online, there are various tv on-demand websites, as well as episodes of shows available on you tube. And we do occasionally succumb to these on a rainy sunday afternoon. When we do watch a show on these rare occasions – it is an intentional decision, not something we are just doing because we can’t think of anything else to do.
  7. Removing the TV from your family equation means more activity, less anxiety, better concentration, more time for family activities, family cooking and eating meals together, more time to talk to each other.

This is one of the main philosophies behind our Action Pack magazines – getting the kids away from the TV — getting them to use their imaginations and not rely upon the TV for their entertainment.

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{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Terri Sue July 28, 2012 at 2:05 pm

We have adult children, but when they were little we intentionally kept the TV off. They got to watch a 1/2 hour a day, and that was Mr Rogers. I liked his gentle approach and did not feel like I needed to be in there every second explaining things like on Sesame Street. Sesame Street was also 1 hour and I felt the few times we watched it that my childrens eyes began to glaze over. We went on to homeschool and the TV just stayed off. I would use it to play educational VHS’, but that is what it was, an educational tool. I think the funniest thing about it was that my husband worked for a local TV station repressenting one of the top three. That’s how he made the living , but we didn’t have to believe in the product.

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