Wednesday, October 24, 2012

TV! "so what's the big deal!"

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Before we had H we were going down the road of no tv (or let's be honest, netflix tv). We were fed up with being addicted to television and it was time to kick that nasty habit. That was 2007 that we rid ourselves of cable television. What a fantastic idea! That's also about when I started knitting, so I can attribute my newest addiction to the loss of an old addiction.

It was funny when we first had people stay with us. They couldn't believe we couldn't turn on the TV and flip through numerous mind numbing channels. If you turned on our TV, you got snow. Sometimes that was fun.. just watching snow.

So it came to no surprise that we were not going to introduce television to our young children. It wasn't until I had children, that I really started reading about the effects of television and young minds. It wasn't even just the hippy, anti-television Nazis that were saying TV was bad for babes.. The American Pediatrics Association even states it! No television before age 2!

I even found this note from the Kaiser Foundation. How is this even possible?
"American children and adolescents spend 22 to 28 hours per week viewing television, more than any other activity except sleeping. By the age of 70 they will have spent 7 to 10 years of their lives watching TV."

Not doing television with H was an absolute breeze. We didn't have cable, so it was easy. Then things got harder and I remember times wishing that I could just plop him in a coma state in front of the television while I do any of the many tasks that I needed to accomplish, but alas, I couldn't do it.

I would be lying if I told you that H NEVER watches ANYTHING. He has seen a couple of programs and he has watched a few videos of trucks on YouTube. But I can probably count those times on two hands in the 4 1/2 years he has been alive. Now, I must also state that H is actually pretty freaked out about television and videos. If it's fast music, or if there are "unusual" characters, he is done.

A couple of questions I get after the "why?" is "So What do you do instead of television? How do you make dinner or get things done? Are you worried they will be "weird" if they don't know what all other kids know?"

"What do we do instead?"
We play. Read. And we are outdoors a lot. I never fear that my children will become bored, because they DO become bored. Quite often. When they are bored they may come to me and ask me what they can do. I usually let them "feel" through their boredom. I might offer some suggestions, I might help them in finding something to do, but mostly I let them be bored. There is a great thing that happens when a kid is bored. They find a way to use their imagination. As I see H dig deeper into his 4's, I see his imagination work at great lengths. Soon after I see his brother follow his lead.

We do a lot of dancing. Music play. And building. We spend hours painting and coloring. I watch their rhythm and if things are starting to get hectic inside, we move outside. I have yet to see my kids suffer from outside boredom.

"How do you get things done?"
It's easy. My kids know no different. They understand that at certain times of day I will need to: fold laundry, cook dinner, clean the house, run errands, have "computer" time, or just plainly need some "me" time. I give them the option to either join me in my tasks or to find something to entertain themselves. There are plenty of times that I sit on my sofa and knit. I speak with them, acknowledge what they are doing, and watch them play. H loves to talk and he he loves to have me knit next to him while he talks to me. I let them know that some times I need time to decompress and I feel they both respect that. They also know that we can shift things if we need to in order to bring everyone to a happy medium.

"Are you afraid they won't know what their peers know."
Nope. Without television, H knows about Cars. He can name them all. He knows of the characters. He doesn't fully know what they "do" but he knows of them. It's slightly impossible to keep marketing out of their lives. I also know that my kids can bring something to other kids.

In closing, it's a family decision we made with television. I find my household to function quite easy without it and now couldn't imagine it being a part of our day. When H has watched something I usually find him to be whiny and needy after. He can't seem to motivate to do things. Without television he seems able to use his imagination fully, without the noises of images and the effects of television.

There's even an E How to not do tv for kids ;)

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