Saturday, May 30, 2009

She Said: Why We Should Get Rid of the TV

Dr. B. and I spent several years of our early married life without a television in our home. During these years, our tiny children learned to read, were read to several hours a day, memorized poems and scriptures, and spent time in creative play. We read books together, we exercised, we gardened, we got outside. We held family home evening and scripture study regularly. Now I see a great decrease in the amount of time we spend doing those things. I ascribe this to too much TV watching--and to some extent the time we spend on the computers.

Because our family is not very good at controlling our television habit, I think we should get rid of it completely. Every time I go downstairs, I find the TV on. Sometimes no one is watching it, but it is droning on in the background. We are a family who never watches "R" rated movies, yet some of the shows that are on cable TV are filled with profanity, sex, and violence. Dr. B. and the children are good about changing the channel when I point out that what they are watching does not meet our standards, but I am not always in the room when television is being viewed. And I hate being the one to have to nag. I don't watch TV at all, so why should I have to be the one to monitor which shows are on?

A movie called The Tube discusses the history of television and its effect on the human brain. It is truly horrifying to discover what TV is doing to our minds. High rates of television flicker can cause epileptic seizures in children, to the point that they have to be hospitalized. Others are mesmerized by the screen. There is measurably less brain activity and they lose touch with their feelings. They sit and stare at the screen and cannot get up and turn it off. It is like being under the influence of a drug.

At times I have attempted to set limits to TV watching, but I am unsuccessful. When I leave the room or the house, the TV is turned back on. The children know their father does not agree with my efforts, and they play us off against each other. Our daughter who just graduated is almost 18, and the one who is home from college for the summer is almost 20. It is difficult to set limits on the types of shows they are watching and the amount of time they spend, especially when I retire for the evening before they do.

What kinds of limits do you, our readers, set on TV watching? When do you know that your family's TV watching is out of control? When is it better to just get rid of the TV?


  1. Our son is two, and currently he is allowed one "video" (usually Baby Einstein or similar quasi-educational stuff, about 30 min.) every other day.

    We watch most of our TV via DVDs, and probably watch 3-5 episodes a week. It's nice because there are no commercials, so what would normally take an hour or two only takes 40 min. to an hour and a half.

    Balance is the key to me. We don't have cable or DISH right now but I'm afraid if we did I would be watching it more. Our biggest issue is with the internet/computers. Other than the iPhone I'm getting, we aren't getting the internet at home in our new place. It just sucks up too much time.

  2. this reminds me so much of my mom... and how I am becoming my mom!
    she HATED the tv and felt very much like you in that she had to constantly ride everyone else to maintain standards. once she even took the tv and threw it in the dumpster. She tried to resort to a cord that she could detach so she could control when the tv was on, but instead we (her kids) would cut the cords off of lamps or other electric fixtures to supply power to the tv. It was a loosing battle that she finally surrendered to.
    Now me, I find I have a similar aversion to constant television watching. I like a good movie now and then, but this year hubby finally got himself a flatscreen tv (hate the thing) and a subscription to cable. And then proceeded to watch hours of sports every night. And there were so many kids shows available (educational, of course) that I could shove son in front of when I needed some time or space... but I had an ever increasing sense of discomfort and annoyance (and outright rage) at the ever increasing amount of time the tv was on.
    Well last week that nice new (barely out of warranty) flatscreen got some sort of a glitch so that it wont change channels, and so it hasn't been on all this week... and it has been one of the best weeks I have had in a good long time.
    aside from hoping we can get the money back on the stupid flatscreen, I say good riddance. (how to watch a good movie now and again... working on that.)
    Now if hubby will agree, instead of plunking down more $$$ to get all those sports and reality shows back...
    whew, sorry for going on and on...