Saturday, October 27, 2007

Q&A

A reader asks...

I admire your tenacity in keeping the television service out of your home. Do you ever miss "the news"? I am wondering how you felt on 9/11? That was one of those moments that I wanted to share with the world and I'm asking myself if I wouldn't have been crazy without my TV for news/information? What did you do that day? Just curious.


I say...

Well thanks, but don't admire my tenacity too much. The truth is that while I say it is a point of pride for me that I have kept television out our home, it is more out of laziness than anything else. Even the most liberal of parents knows that television requires monitoring-- A job I don't need or want.

If I pay someone to pipe programming into my house, I will then be required to become familiar with it all in order to judge which programs I want my children to watch and which I don't. I should say, too, that I am inviting the very real possibility that my choices will differ from my children's and I will have to say "no" to some things they will want to watch.

Once I've found programs that are educational or harmlessly entertaining that my children want to watch, then I have to concern myself with the commercials. If it isn't a familiarity with adult medical "issues" I want to shield my children from (when I was a kid, ED was short for education) it is the marketing of toys they don't need that they will beg me for and I will have to refuse them.

Lastly, even if I find ways to watch our favorite programs without commercials, I will have to monitor the amount of time my kids spend in front of the tube. Access to many channels and many programs offers round the clock zoning possibilities and I am not one to pull quiet children away from programs in order to find healthier ways occupy them--ways that require my energy, my thought and my time. No, if my kids are quietly zoning in another room, I tend to look for a good book and put the kettle to boil.

For the reasons mentioned above, we subscribe to Netflix and keep four DVDs in the house at a time. Four to eight hours of preselected, commercial free viewing in the house at all times plus twenty four hours of limited instant watching a month at the Netflix site has proven sufficient for our young family. I don't think my children feel deprived or left out of anything just yet. They may one day, but not now. It helps that Netflix has such a wide selection.

Preselection also guarantees that my children exhaust their stores eventually and come up from the family room for air. They will draw, read books, or whine at my feet as I try to make dinner. The important thing is that they come up on their own; I don't have to pull them away from the set. If we had television, I certainly wouldn't pull the two year old away from the set. Why, so he can whine at my feet as I try to make dinner?

On 9/11 I was one of the first among all my friends to know what was going on because I listen to the news on the radio every morning. NPR reported as the planes were hitting and continued throughout the day. I hung on every word. Later that day, I watched some news coverage on the internet. I don't think it will be long before we all have more programming selection choices as the internet and television medias influence one another and/or converge.

Until then, I will continue to rely on the internet, preselected viewing sources, the radio, and on occasion the cheap-o rabbit ears I picked up for tonight's game...

Go Red Sox!

12 comments:

Anonymous said...

Thanks for your opinnion. WE just decided to sign up for Netflix from what you have said and what others said too.
What a great idea. We also have rabbit ears and we get 5 tv channels on ours so I also was able to watch about 9/11 all day and all the following days/weeks.
I agree with you- what a chore it would be if my kids were so intune with TV. NO thanks. I have enough on my plate right now :)
GOd bless you!

Theresa said...

My thoughts EXACTLY. I don't have the energy to fight that battle daily. I'd much rather fight it once and get it over with for good!LOL!
We also do Netflix. What a great service. One area we differ is that we also have a small DVD collection of favorites we own. The kids know they only get to watch occasionally (and never during a school day) so it isn't a big deal since they are not in the TV watching habit anyway.

Jennie C. said...

I have a tv, but not a microwave. :-)

Kimberlee said...

Same here. I think Augustine's assessment that abstinence is easier than perfect moderation applies quite handily to the television.

Aimee said...

All very good points, Suzanne. Plus, just owning a tv does not exclude children from feeling "left out" of programming that is deemed inappropriate for the household. My 8 yr old's classmates and cousins have all seen many programs that I do not allow her to watch, and she asked me last night about my reasons for not allowing her to see them. We had a good talk about how it is difficult to stand up for something you believe in, but it does break my heart a little that she is getting teased at school for not watching the Disney channel. She seemed to take it all in stride, but I know these will be battles that we revisit in the future.

And we also enjoy Netflix, so there may a day when our tv goes the way of the dinosaur as well. :)

Ana Braga-Henebry said...

Oh Suzanne, I so relate to what you are saying. We haven't had commercial TV since our first child watched Nickelodeon-- and I was horrified at the anti-parent tone in between shows. "Kids know better" was the premise. We unplugged it for ever. Of course the World Cup come every four years, and as a faithful and patriotic Brazilian, I get satellite for the summer. (Dish lets you block such horrors as MTV etc.) So every four years my kids have a summer of TV-- and are invariably disgusted as there is "nothing good on". The Disney Channel is repetitive. So are the commercials. They ignore the news. We do Netflix as well, but just one at a time, and use our generous library system for the rest of our watching needs. It works! It costs next to nothing! Alas, sometimes I tell others we don't have TV because I like it too much. I'd dig and find something good! But with forming souls under the roof, that's impossible!

Ellen said...

That is how I grew up.. minus the netflix..because it is new. While I hated it as a teenager I must say that I turned out pretty normal. We have tv/cable right now just so my husband could watch the Red Sox in the play offs and now the world series. I will miss the Food Network TERRIBLY once it is gone next week.

J.C. said...

Another added benefit of no TV, or at least no satellite, that I have discovered lately (because I am abroad and we decided not to subscribe during our stay) is that Mommy is much more efficient and well rested! Without the lure of TV shows in the evening, everything that needs to get done is less likely to be postponed, and I am going to bed extra early and getting up extra early. (In all fairness, I should add that we also decided not to get an internet connection...:)) And my favorite side effect is that I am also doing more and higher quality reading. (By the way, Suzanne, is it my imagination or did you have a post up about Christopher Derrick passing away? Perhaps I saw it somewhere else? Maybe in one of the blogs on your sidebar? Has anyone seen it? Sorry!) Anyway, I hope that we can retain the good "TV-less" habits we developed here when we return to the States!

Kristen Laurence said...

Major news is now viewable on the internet. We watched the California wildfire news reports on our computer, and they were broadcasted live. I was glued to the internet for two days! :) I'm not proud of that, but it was certainly nice to be informed minute by minute, and without commercials to deal with.

Suzanne Temple said...

J.c. No, I did not post about Christopher Derrick. I am not sure either where you may have seen that I did not see it myself. Good luck with the TV situation and enjoy Europe for all of us!

Ann Horan said...

No TV here either. Every time we have been staying somewhere where there is a TV it is always a big issue. I hate trying to monitor it and I hate it that not only my kids but my husband become zombies if I don't keep fussing at them. As for 9/11, we were living abroad and saw footage on the internet only minutes afterwards. It was so unreal that we thought at first that it was a spoof of some sort.

kat said...

No TV here either. We have been TV free for over 10 years, but when my husband was deployed for 9 months at the beginning of the war, leaving me home alone with a 4,2, and 7 mo pregnant- I bought a TV/VCR combo. We only watch movies, usually found at the thrift store. They can watch for 1 hour during the week while the babysitter is here (so I can go run).

By homeschooling I don't have to worry about them feeling socially inept by not being up on the latest TV show.

The kids read, draw, play, and are active instead of being little zombies starting at a screen all day.