Monday, March 28, 2011

tv-free update

Many of you take great interest in our tv-free household . To recap for new readers, we have been tv-free for almost a year now. North has seen a handful of children's videos in that time and a couple Thomas the Tank episodes at his Grandparents but that is about it.

In our last update I told you on a few occasions North had gotten his grubby little hands on a dvd at the library and had suckered me into bringing it home. After one viewing I usually hid the dvd and told him I had returned it for another child to bring home. But in the past few months we haven't been doing that either.

Becoming tv-free is kind of an addiction. Suddenly you become such a purist, a total snob about the stuff your child is exposed to. I suppose because North rarely watches television, when he does it is glaringly obvious how much of it he absorbs and mimics yet clearly doesn't really intellectually or emotionally understand. The last video I let him watch was Bambi and for days afterwards he'd say things like, "I don't want the dogs to chase me with their teeth like Bambi" or "Where is Bambi's Mama? Did the man take her?" or "That's a bunny like Thumper" or "That's a deer like Bambi". You can see why the first two comments are disturbing (bad call by me letting him watch something with such emotional height), but the second two are an example of how television stunts his imagination. When he sees pictures of deer in other contexts they are no longer mystical forest creatures but have been pigeon-holed to be "just like Bambi". The same goes for simpler and happier shows like the Wiggles. He watched one of those dvds about five months ago and for two months afterwards any red car we saw was "Like the Wiggle's big red car, Mama!".

The other problem with dipping our toes in the video pond was that television is a serious drug for the child. North would zone out (as if on a high) completely, the show would end and he'd immediately ask for more (as though his high were plummeting), have a mini meltdown because I said no and then for days afterwards beg over and over to watch the tv ("just a little bit, Mama").

And so, after not much thought, we have cut out absolutely any screen time whatsoever.

My parenting style is what some like to call, "wacky" and what I like to call "different", but of all the choices I have made for my children and our family so far, this is the one I am most sure of, am most proud of and the one from which I can truly see and experience the positive effects.

You can read more about our tv-free journey here and here with some ideas on just what to do with your little one instead of popping him in front of the screen. Tricia from Little Eco Footprints also has some wonderful ideas on how to cut screen time here and here.

If you are curious about the benefits of going tv-free and about just how detrimental television is for children please brave the following for some more educated insight.

xo m.


Tat said...

We don't watch much TV at our place either. It helps that I don't like TV, kids or no kids. Then I don't feel tempted to turn it on. It won't even cross my mind half of the time.

deux chiens et un garcon said...

good evening. we have just intuitively felt from early on the tv on just didnt feel right. we have no working dvd and so the video thing just doesnt happen either. even as an adult i've come to feel the obsession with "the latest" movie, and the movie celebrities, and all the hype detracts from the real meaning in our lives and becomes an obsession with people. Yes nice to have entertainent and escapism but it seems that books open us and tv/movies seems to overwhelm us. Really really love your blog. So much helpful info/insights.

Advice From A Caterpillar said...

WOWOWOW----sooo cool that they aren't growing up with tv! We didn't grow up with tv either and it was fabbb...but now I watch loads of it.hahaa...So, maybe it had the opposite effect?haha
Whatever it was, it was positive because we did loads of arts and crafts, tons of hands on things, dancing and were always on our bikes! Lots of love babe!!
xoAdvice From A Catepillar Store

Stephanie G. said...

We cut our TV a couple of months ago. The kids still watch DVD's but I know exactly what you mean about becoming a total snob about what they watch. When they get so little, I'm hyper sensitive about the shows they do absorb. I panicked at first but really, our days are so much better and there is so much more creativity!

Stephanie :)

Mimi and Anna said...

We've never had TV and my daughter is 11. I keep waiting for her to feel odd because she isn't up on popular culture, but so far no problems. Actually, like you, she's a bit of a snob about what she watches (she loves old Audrey Hepburn and Gene Kelley films). Every now and then, while visiting her grandparents, she wants to watch the Food Network, but in general, it's a non-issue, something we don't even think about. There are so many other more interesting things to do.

Wendy said...

Before our youngest child was born I swore he would not watch t.v.--I've weathered the skeptical questions like "How are you going to do that?" and "Why" over and over again, and am now seeing the rewards of my efforts and perseverance. Yes, like North, my Spud has seen just a few things on t.v.--only twice, at my permission, and other times, during brief visits to other people's houses. I, too, see how quickly he zones out when exposed to t.v. for even a few minutes, and that alone is enough for me to re-double my vow. But I also am seeing very positive, tangible validation of my choice; all of which have happened, not at my urging or orchestration, but because he is not addicted to electronic entertainment. At 2 years, 4 months, he knows his letters and numbers (and has since 19 months), willingly sits for long periods of time while being read to, knows the names and calls/songs of many birds, has a huge vocabulary, and plays with wonderful imagination. My next child may not display the same results, but he/she will definitely live tv-free. No t.v. is absolutely one of the best choices we have ever made for our children/family.

Mama Mash said...

I admire you so much Meagan, you truly are inspirational.
I would love to be able to make our home a tv free home but unfortunately my partner doesn't always agree with my ideas, luckily though I'm with my son during the day and the t.v is switched for almost the whole time.

Lovely play space btw :)

Bianca said...

How does your husband react to the no TV policy? We watch limited TV, but my husband plays computer games (ugly violent ones) and when i say that I don't want him playing it in view or hearing of our children (we're trying to concieve our first atm) he just can't agree. On so many things we are on the same page, but not this. Perhaps his mentality will change when our baby is born, but if it doesnt.... what then? I don't want to bully him into it, but I feel really strongly about it. We're not going to be able to avoid exposure outside of our home, thats a battle I will conceed,....but not inside our home. Perhaps I worry about nothing though. Surely he'll come around when the baby is born.?? i dunno. I think ultimately I will just have to get some wireless headphones, a TV in the garage or a soundproof room.?


Madkap said...

We too are a tv free household. We got rid of ours about 4 years ago (well before we had our first bebe). Every so often people discover that we don't have a tv and the shock they display is constantly amazing to me - their first question is always "but what do you do?" I always say, we talk. Yes, we watch a few things on our laptops, but those are a conscious choice and always once the wee one is in bed. She (now 2 and a bit) has recently been watching play school with her nanna (once a week) and while I am ok with this as she watches it with her and they interact, a part of me hates it too, as I don't want her exposed to the tv at all. And now of course we get asked if we can have a play school tv at home. Its so very insidious.

Gaby said...

I don't have kids, but I notice the same things within myself! And it's funny how negatively people react when they come over and see our tiny and very ghetto tv that gets no channels, or even worse, when the tv's in the closet. People really love their tv.

p.s. I'm making your radically green curry for dinner tonight, can't wait!

Beverley said...

THank you so much for your inspiration Meagan, I love your blog and visit often, I have just taken on a couple of foster children who are used to day time TV shows all the time and have every plastic noisy available and am in the process of gradually weaning them off, as our daughter watches very little TV and doesnt have many plastic toys, they are currently loving the toy kitchen but it's hard work! Your post verifies what I thought, that it will be so worth it, so thank you

mamaUK said...

Just wanted to stop by and leave a comment as I know how hard it is to be TV free and not be really purist about it too. The children have been 99% TV free for three years now and their play and imagination is so great. As my older girl is in school, i didn't want her to feel 'different' from the other children so as a compromise on a Saturday they watch about an hour and twenty minutes of TV a week (perfect length for disney DVD!) I just wanted to let you know, that it is such a part of their routine that they never ask for a DVD at any other time so there is no begging.

tricia said...

I'm thinking you are doing the right thing having no TV at all. We have a TV but aim to minimise the time it's watched. But it's always tempting my daughter. I think it would be easier if we just didn't have one.

Thanks for the links :-)

Catherine Lowe said...

We are mostly tv free - I live with my mum who watches it and river often snuggles with her of an evening - so its their time, as much as i hate it. BUT, just reading about your dvd choices, i think that makes the world of difference. I have given river his first dvd - The Gruffalo and im not so offended that he love love loves it! I have previously tried a tv distraction a couple of times and felt worried & guilt, but this little treasure is a beautiful 20 min watch. He gets so excited, and it means i can quickly do a pushing task that otherwise turns into me being a grumpy mum saying go away go away mummy is just trying to type an email , 5 mins!!, and becoming rather stressed. lol
maybe your library has that. well, maybe your not interested - but thought id mention. im hoping to find another little story book flick if anyone knows of any...

Catherine Lowe said...

Oh i forgot to add, river love love loves watching animals in docos and seeing whales monkeys and tigers etc..

Stacey said...

I just love love love what you're about.
I think we're going to go for it!
I've loved the idea of completely no tv for a while but it's scary with homeschooling as well.
That's that little bit of time I get to go to the toilet in peace or eat know?
But you're so inspiring!
Thanks amazing super duper mumma!!
x S

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