We unplugged the television in January and after just one day the kids forgot to ask for it. I have to say I was more than a little surprised at how easy it was. I had braced for big (huge) arguments.
Something had to change!
We were never huge watchers and avoided commercials, we had constructive conversations about what we watched, but something had to change. Things were out of hand around the telly. The turning point for me was noticing that our 3 year old boy was starting to become addicted. We had clear limits but he threw tantrums when we refused to turn it on, and when it was time to turn it off again. I thought we had been managing it well, but it was becoming clear that a big shift had to happen to change this pattern. He was watching 'educational' programs on ABC but still, this wasn't healthy.
Impact of television
There's a lot of research out there about the impact of watching too much television (for all ages) and you've probably heard a lot about this - from obesity, depression, anxiety, decreased brain function, behavioural problems and more. There is really so much more to be doing with our lives - playing, telling stories, hanging out with friends, reading, connecting with nature, watching the stars, riding a bike ...
Redesign our living space
It's been 3 months since we disconnected our television and honestly we don't miss it at all, in fact we are so very happy we did this. The big black screen is still sitting up on the wall - a relic perhaps. We don't know what to do with it, and haven't got around to creating a replacement piece of artwork to put over the holes we drilled into the wall - aha - a great task for the kids!
Got to get rid of the TV still hanging on the wall. We'll remove it soon, and the shelves. We've decided to turn this corner into an art and picture gallery displaying colourful pieces we create and images of fun active things we do together.
One huge bonus is that we have re-designed our living space to ignore the telly on the wall. The couch is no longer looking toward the wall with our backs to the room. Now when we relax on the couch, we face into the room, toward the people in it, and toward a beautiful view out across the lake and forested hills in the distance...a much better outlook! Without even realising it, we allow the television to dominate the way we design rooms, even house layouts. I love the way our main living space feels now ... sans telly.
Selective media watching
We still do watch some media, but we are all far more selective of content because we can manage that now. The children can select specific things to watch online as part of their homeschooling, such as:
The computers they use are in a shared space so the screen is easily visible and we can monitor and share the experience with them. They take notes while they are watching, and what they learn becomes part of their interesting table conversation. Little Monty is allowed select from the ABC iView app for a short periods.
There's so many more hours in the week without television
Evan and I thought we might select interesting documentaries, but typically we don't watch anything in the evenings any more. I feel far more productive, energised and uplifted doing other things in the evening. We:
spend more quality time with the kids and each other
share our ideas
research things we want to learn about
read great books
design and plan eco-living workshops
make short films
do some exercise
There are suddenly so many more hours available each week. Even though we were always quite selective in what we watched and we never turned the telly on until the kids had gone to bed, I realise in my adult life I have wasted an enormous amount of time just sitting watching - just to switch off for a bit - just for some downtime at the end of the day.
Turn off the TV for the kids and for yourself.
What started out as an action motivated by wanting to improve things for our kids, has ended up being a huge bonus for us 'grown-ups' and the family as a whole. Many of you reading this have already done this too, perhaps a very long time ago. I am happy to be joining you and if you haven't tried it yet, I wholeheartedly recommend giving it a go.
Have you tried? What impact did it have in your life?