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Why TV-free?

post #1 of 8
Thread Starter 
So I'm sure this has been asked a million times, but I really want to know. I always want to greatly limit tv use, but a few things happened. First, my daughter was a horrible teether. As in no naps, going to bed at midnight, and still screaming all the time. The tv allowed her to calm down at least for a while. Same when she was sick.

I also wonder about one thing... We live in such a separated society now. Naturally I'm sure kids would have more people around, more to watch during the day so they can be silent observers as well as more interaction. The way we live now, that isn't possible for all day every day. My daughter loves watching home videos of her with grandma and grandpa and friends.

So tell me all about why, despite these 2 issues, having no tv at all is still better. And also, what suggestions do you have for kids? Do you ever watch tv yourself? My husband and I like renting movies sometimes... do you all avoid even movies (at home or at the theatre)? What about educational videos like the Planet Earth series (we have it on dvd)?

Thanks in advance

ETA: FWIW, we got rid of cable when we moved so we watch less tv. Actually we we watch almost none. Just a little at night. It's more internet videos (youtube, cnn.com) and dvds
post #2 of 8
Check out the Introductions thread -- lots of people tell their stories there. Also the resources section, especially the blog links, have explanations of why people chose to go TV free and how they implement it in their life.

There have also been discussions about TV-free and watching videos of deployed military parents that I think would be relevent to your question about the grandparents (I think watching videos that relatives made, talking to the kids, is in a whole different category than TV).

My partner and I do get Netflix, and watch probably 2-4 hours of video a month, when Naked Baby is asleep. We haven't been to a movie together since NB was born 15.5 months ago, although my partner went with a friend last month, and it's supposed to be my turn next month. I don't see taking NB to a movie anytime soon, though, (or sitting down to watch a video) although I don't think it would be out of the realm of possiblity after age 5 or so.

It sounds like you're already living a pretty TV-limited lifestyle. Even just turning off commercial TV in favor of chosen videos is a pretty big step!
post #3 of 8
Thread Starter 
Thanks for the info! And we really try. I've always felt bad about the fact that dd sometimes watched a lot of videos, even under age 2. She was such a high needs toddler with the teething, I almost saw it as necessary.

And the home videos are more videos of family get-together and holidays, trips to the zoo, etc. not really grandparents talking to her, though that would be fun, too! We don't live near any family. They're about hour long videos and she LOVES watching them. Sometimes too much.
post #4 of 8
There is a whole bunch of research on how damaging TV is (http://www.commercialfreechildhood.org/, http://www.whitedot.org/issue/iss_front.asp, http://seattlepi.nwsource.com/local/...evision05.html, I could go on...).

To me, the research is sufficient to convince me that TV is harmful. If I KNOW something is harmful to my child, I must evalue its use very seriously.

As for watching people, its not the same. The scene changes, animation, etc. The whole screen thing is very diffrent than real life. It is not the same as being part of an active, real life community. So, the comparision is not really accurate.
post #5 of 8
I don't think there's any reason to feel bad. We do the best we can at any moment, and if we didn't, well, we can now. I've said before that part of why I am TV-free is it makes parenting easier, and I would be incapable of limiting myself from overusing it in that manner, to the detriment of my child. But I'm not interested in judging other people choosing to use it in special situations, whatever they consider to be "special" or stressful enough. We've talked before about using TV in hospital, on long plane trips, etc, and some people have testified they prefer to do without even in those circumstances (or that their children still just aren't interested in the screen!), and others have explained why they used it, and I don't think there's definitely one right answer. I would advocate that people reconsider the use of TV to get through an ordinary day, every day, and even to evaluate whether it really does help in the long run in stressful situations, but I also think we need to cut ourselves some slack. You survived life with a high needs teething toddler, and that's pretty awesome.
post #6 of 8
I agree with Arwyn too... I didn't mean to come off harsh or "better than everyone"... You asked, so I told .

I "used" a little library DVD action when my son was very sick/post surgery. And I also have trouble limiting myself. My son also seems to be able to get "hooked" on things and he's very intense and doesn't let them go, so "no tv" is a lot, lot easier than "a little every once in a while". Also, my husband and I will sometimes have "date nights" at home after ds goes to bed- a DVD on the laptop and pizza . So we grown-ups watch a bit.

It's hard to try and find just the right, concise words that say "We don't have a tv/watch a tv because tv is overall detrimental to children and family life and a little turns quickly into a slippery slope, we really enjoy life without it, but there is no guilt in knowing that it is not the best and in trying to improve by reducing tv or in 'using' during times when really the alternatives are even more unhealthy- physically, mentally, or emotionally for the parent or child". We've talked about on here a few times how hard it is to explain being tv free without coming off judgemental or putting people on the defensive...
post #7 of 8
I stopped watching tv when I was 11 or 12 after reading the Plug in Drug. I prefered having my own thoughts/ideas/dreams/memories to having them piped in through the tube. I like having more time for other things. From time to time I'd slip into a tv habit--a college roomate would have a television or I'd be staying with my parents for a while and watch it late-night. But tv has always left me empty and unsatisfied, and feeling foolish for having spent my time that way.

DH grew up without television and wasn't interested in it all--still isn't.

Having said all this, our older kids do sometimes watch a dvd on my computer--maybe two or three times a month. It usually something truly interesting--the blue planet, a pbs lewis and clark documentary, or even a magic school bus episode we'll pick up from the library. We have two scooby do dvds floating around that they love and like to watch when they think of it.

I just think life is better without a television, and without a lot of movies/dvs/screen time for kids. I'd rather go for a walk, or read a book, or listen to my kids talk with each other. I'd even rather clean my house--which is saying a lot about just how much I don't like TV!
post #8 of 8
Chrissy - I think for everyone it is a personal choice, but for me there were a few reasons. First, I think the research is compelling and unavoidable - television is not healthy for children. Period. And for young children it is extremely unhealthy (regardless of content). Young children need active learning and television requires that they be completely passive. It interfers with cognitive development. That for me was reason enough.

But the other reasons had to do with an overall parenting philosophy - I wanted to develop a closeness with my son which is why I practice attachment parenting. I think I was afraid that if TV was in the house it would be a crutch - something to turn on for "a few minutes" when I needed a break or when he was acting fussy, etc. But I knew that those few minutes would turn into longer periods and that eventually he would be addicted (and I too might be addicted to the "free time" it gave me). I guess I just didn't want television to be an option; I didn't want it to be in my parenting toolbox.
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