We didn't have TV for a while because I went through a period of underemployment when DS #1 was a toddler, so sold TV along with computer (gasp!), phone (gasp gasp!) answering machine (suddenly not needed LOL), all camera equipment (YES, all!) etc. for more practical things like...food. OK, so when we were in much better circumstances we had a TV but weren't home too much to watch it and definitely did not have cable and lived way far away from the TV stations and behind some mountains so we sporadically watched PBS and what we couldn't see we made up. We strangely enough had the VCR because nobody had wanted to buy it so we did watch movies when we had time but it wasn't much beause I was in graduate school. I remember our favorite video, the one I could study to as we lived in a small place, was Disney's Fantasia. Well, somehow we went through a period of having Nickelodean but that was during the period DS went to public school and had a teenage sitter, but I figured that the sitter balanced things out as they took tremendous nature walks, worked in an alternative health store together (her mom's business), beat on drums, and practiced Reiki, among other things. For a while after he was homeschooling and we had moved away from the wonderful neighbor girl (well, OK we own the house still but it's rented out - circumstances really did improve)...we would watch all sorts of programs such as Oprah which I think were interesting from a sociological perspective and spiritually until dare I say this we felt that we outpaced the hostess in terms of personal growth...had finished our diets and our financial management program and changed our life...of course she was showing so many repeats that it really was difficult to tell what was going on with her personally! Well, we watched the news and we watched Teletubbies with the baby and we did NOT watch survivor or Friends or shows like that and only my son understood that quiz show so we didn't watch that either because it was too slow. I must add that during our period of TV I studied for the Foreign Service Exam by watching Jeopardy ever single night and it really helped me immensely! We watched some nice Ken Burns videos, some very complicated origami videos, French learning videos and all manner of things educational...we had the Magic Flute and it was beautiful...and some art films and such and for a couple years justified the TV as a desirable homeschool device. Then we came up against space, and time management and we realized that beyond cable and electricity, the TV was costing us valuable square footage, and much needed time. We discussed its departure, and while my son was away for 8 weeks at an outdoor camp and far away from TV anyway, I eBayed the videos and sold the TV and VCR to a couple who had theirs torched by lightning (hmmm, there's Something to Ponder). I invested the $$ in his interest bearing account and we have never looked back. Slowly, slowly, we began to be less and less influenced by TV - we no longer felt obliged to schedule our lives around any shows we wished to see, I no longer had to dust videos and replace them in their sleeves, or dust the TV/VCR or wonder if it would Catch Fire in the middle of the night if I forgot to turn it off at the wall switch. We ceased going to the video store to Rent Movies...or watched commericals or heard jingles in our subconscious. Talk in the hockey locker room became a mumble jumble of code words that we assume must come from the latest offerings on the tube. My son's self-image improved. I feel more normal than I have felt in a long time. I work more and I don't get cravings 'out of nowhere' and whatever feelings I have come from the events and music of MY life rather than someone I have seen on TV fictional or real. We read a lot more than we did before, and we have always read a lot. We go to sleep when we are tired and don't stay up to finish watching a show we started. My son might actually go to the Olympics with his friends this year and I don't think it's strange because, well, how else would he see them? I can now truly understand the excitement of the World Fair and its exhibits. We went to a Bean Dinner and it seemed a good way to catch up on local information! When my toddler does something new, I know it's because he learned it through interaction with his environment or family members, and not from TV...it's SO VERY REWARDING to know that. Yes, TV can teach reading and word skills and give information, but I feel that kind of learning produces some sort of dissociation. The child will always association a certain letter or number or concept with a jingle or song or puppet or a person that they had no real relationship with. Maybe later on it will make them feel sort of empty. I didn't have TV when I was little and I can remember very distinctly my coveted plastic zip-close envelope with a clear front and a blue back, and it was filled with cards on which a single letter or letter-combination was printed along with the phonetic symbols...my bag had a split in it and it was mended with clear tape which was a little bit yellowed. They smelled - plasticky! I wold sit in my closet and sort through the cards, going over the sounds, remembering the words and voice of my teacher and classmates...how my teacher taught the sound "wh" by blowing on a mature dandelion and my best friend sneezed violently. I honestly don't believe a TV can replace that sort of personal, associative learning. TV eats up valuable time in its mildest form and in its extreme form can be all-consuming and hazardously pervasive to a person's internal thoughts and thinking patterns. To say I am now anti-TV would be an extreme understatement. We now watch an occasional DVD movie on my ccomputer but when we do it's one that we have researched beforehand and made the time for, often planned for several weeks to watch...and we are always truly enthralled by the movie and thoroughly disoriented when it's over! My BF and son went to see Lord of the Rings at the theater and I had to remind them both the get reoriented before leaving the movie house as they would run the risk of getting run over in the parking lot or worse! I do not let my toddler watch movies - I was in a place I can't remember where and there was a TV screen and he was confused by it, as well he should be!
I am glad there is Mothering.com - I do like the internet when it is put to a good use such as public forums. I use ad-busting software and good search engines and techniques in order to avoid its more distracting elements. Even then you have to be careful - it's too easy to be sucked in! I'm still trying to figure out how to disable the 'groovy' rotating pink and purple flowers behing the hippie-person icon without destroying some of the more useful scripts on this site. For an autistic who becomes insane at flashing or repetitive items in my peripheral vision I am going to have to figure it out, post a sticky note over that part of my screen, or vacate entirely. Egads. Doesn't it get to anyone besides me - I mean it's cute at first glance but after a while you want to smack it senseless, pricy laptop or no.