I’m about to say something so shocking you will not believe it.
We didn’t own a flat screen TV until last year.
Also, we didn’t have Netflix, cable, satellite or any other fancy TV programs. We had about seven channels and a TV that was at least a decade old. I was never upset by this TV situation. I loved it.
Now, I am not saying I don’t love TV. I grew up watching and loving TV more than most average kids. It was amazing and I think TV is wonderful. In adulthood though, I just stopped watching TV. I started realizing that watching the news would send me into a state of worry that would take days to recover from. (This is where many bloggers would go into their enneagram type and tell you what wing they are to make you understand.) I however will let you know that I feel ALL THE THINGS, VERY DEEPLY. This is just the way I am. I once was driving down the highway and I saw the sweetest baby calf in a trailer and I cried. Because he was so cute. True story. So, in my twenties I just stopped watching TV aside from PBS sometimes and the occasional show with Derick per his request.
As the kids got older we watched more PBS and everything was wonderful. UNTIL we got the flat screen TV and Netflix. I still can’t fully describe the ways in which my children have been affected by this. So, I’ll just say–they turned into monsters. My lovely children who used to be content to watch whatever was on PBS without batting an eye lash now scorn each other if they have to sit through a show that Coen likes more than them. It’s a baby show, or a scary show, or a princess show. And no. one. is. happy. Everyone is mad, every day. About the TV.
Enter Sarah who has been ready to throw the flat screen out the window since the first month. While everyone is mad and not getting along about the TV, I have been internally raging about how ridiculous this whole situation is. TV is not air. TV is not water. TV isn’t heat. We can live without TV. But all of a sudden, my people act like they are DYING about the TV, and the shows, and the channels, and the buffering. Why isn’t there a new season they shout?! Meanwhile I could care less. I would rather sit and listen to music or read a book all day over TV every single day of my life. There I said it. Maybe I don’t love TV…
So, around month six, I told my friend about my desire to throw out the TV. Of course, she lovingly pointed out I was being dramatic and suggested maybe we just cancel Netflix? I pondered all the options. I considered switching around our “TV area” and putting the TV in a playroom where it would only be used for the occasional DVD watching. I wasn’t able to get everyone on board with this. So, after much consideration and more dreams of getting rid of it forever…I decided to cancel everything and go back to PBS. I have been weaning the TV crack addicts off slowly by watching more DVDs and more PBS the past month. They have approximately ten days until everything expires. I hope they survive this devastation.
I have also been turning the screen off when they can’t agree or a fight breaks out. Just today I turned it off. A DVD was on, and Coen decided ten seconds in that he changed his mind and wanted to watch Netflix, approximately ten minutes after he wanted to watch Disney.
What happened next is why I am so happy about turning off the screens. He was mad for about two minutes…and then something amazing happened. He started creatively playing. The more I turn the screen off–the more amazing things he creates to play with. The current thing has been “tracks” where he takes anything and everything; books, pillows, cushions, cups, dominos, wooden blocks and makes a “track.” Currently there are no less than 4 tracks set up. He has been busy and quiet making tracks for over 30 minutes. Not one fight has broken out. There has been no whining, complaining, or back talking. It’s basically a miracle. Only not, because all I did was turn off the TV.
In all seriousness though, I have been researching the bad effects of too much screen time for kids and adults. What I am reading is not good. Too much screen time can mean more anxiety, less sleep, worse quality of sleep, more depression, and overall can lead to bad habits that lead to bad health. Some people think that we can’t live without the screens, but I want to point out how long we as humans survived “before” them. We were absolutely fine without them. I am still the mom who will hand my kid a phone with a game or show out of desperation in the check-out line. I am still the mom who will put on a DVD when I need a break and all heck is breaking loose. But, I am also the mom who is deciding to turn the screens off and see what amazing things my kids do when they are bored.