Books are better but the television, tablets and smartphones are much more convenient. In May 2018, we decided to cut off the TV and technology for good.
TV in the 80s
I grew up loving TV. Yes we rode bikes, played in the dirt and actually did things outside, but watching television was the culmination of a great day. In the 1980s, TV was influenced by sitcoms and primetime soap operas that were about everyday life. This was around the time that cable was introduced, and this gave us so many options to watch things besides ABC, NBC and CBS. Where I’m from, you were fortunate to have a TV and cable so you had to make the most of it.
Everyone I knew watched the television daily and not for a little bit, but all day. In my community you watched the sitcoms like The Cosby Show, primetime soap operas like Dynasty and Saturday morning cartoons. If you are a kid from the 80s, you can memorize too many shows and movies by heart. That’s just what we did.
Reading is Fundamental
I’m not sure why but books were not the priority in my hood. Other than required reading for school or memorizing and passages from the Bible, reading wasn’t a prime concern in my community. Yes we owned a set on encyclopedias, but that was mainly used for doing homework assignments. Thank you Google for the better options today. Back then, you heard reading was fundamental, but television was the main form of entertainment.
The Love of TV
So I am no stranger to sitting in front of a TV all day. I mean I turned out okay I think. So when we first had my son, we sat him in front of the television all day. We had a strict rule that he would only watched educational shows like Nick Jr. So if he sat in front of the TV learning, it would turn out to be a good thing. Big mistake!
When I say my son loves TV, he LOVES it. At 6, he moved on from Nick Jr. and Disney Jr., now he’s now a big fan of Pokemon, watching anything with dragons, and now Minecraft. Because my son has this fascination with television, if I need to do some work or my wife needs to cook, you can leave him in front of the tube and get all your stuff done. So it’s easy parenting to do that and get the other stuff done.
My daughter is 4 and she’s a little different. By the time she was born, my son was enrolled in Montessori school and they stressed the importance of no television especially in the early stages of life. So once my daughter was born, we didn’t use the television to raise the kids as much. Once we were introduced to the Montessori concept, we started reading and researching more about the dangers of too much technology. By this time it was still extremely hard to take it away especially because of the convenience it offered and the fact that my kids really enjoyed it.
Just to be clear, I do think some aspects of television can be informative and educational. With the right parental supervision and limited screen time, it can be a positive experience for children. However, we realized the more the kids watch television, the less we talk and parent. Once we put away the devices, we do a lot of things outdoors and we spend more time reading together.
Kids and Zombies
I have great kids. I don’t think a child will ever be perfect so that’s not our goal. It just really hit me one day when we cut off the TV and my son didn’t even appreciate all the toys and games we bought him. I mean he gets entertained for a short amount of time and then it’s back to the iPad, youtube or the television. When he watches TV it puts him in a zombie state. And that’s not good for his creativity, nor his relationship with his parents or interactions with others.
Early in 2018, we decided to have a no TV policy during the week. So the kids would be able to watch on Saturdays and Sundays. When we first started this, it was extremely hard. But by March, we were consistent with this new house law. The kids hated it for the first few weeks, but got over it after a while. They got so used to it that they would talk about the weekend on Mondays and I realized they were starting to sound like the modern day employee.
Focus Needs Focus
One of the big things I studied when my kids started Montessori was the entire concept of ADD and ADHD. Attention-deficit disorder (ADD) and attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) both affect people’s ability to stay focused on things like schoolwork, social interactions, and everyday activities like brushing teeth and getting dressed. During my research, I realized that kids watching those flashy colors and graphics too often causes them to not be so focused when that imagery is not in front of them. Needless to say, I realized when my kids watch too much TV, there performance in school suffers.
More importantly than that, I realized that when my kids watch too much TV, even on the weekends, there behavior is much worse. We monitor our kids consistently and when they sit in front of the tablet or smartphone too often, it’s harder to get them to listen and focus. And my son gets much angrier and way more aggressive when that happens. So after a few bad reports on his behavior one week, we decided to cut the TV off for good.
No More TV
It’s only been a few weeks, but it’s been great so far. Yes my son is a salesman and does everything in his power for us to give in, but we are sticking to our guns. Since then, he is playing with his toys and doing more educational activities willingly. He reads more often, and it seems like he is much more willing to share what’s going on in his head and listen to stories. Cutting off the TV requires us to be better parents because we have to talk more and always find things to do. The summer is approaching so it will be harder, but based on the results thus far, we are going to continue this trend for the next few months going into the new school year.
We believe our kids learn best from real experiences, especially from us. Yes we could reduce the TV time, we just believe that no TV gives them the best chance to process everything and be more productive. I’m sure we will give in eventually, but hopefully when we do it’s it’s to watch a movie together. So we are sticking with it so wish us luck.
How much access to tablets, TVs and smartphones do you allow with your children? And what are the ages of your children? Comment below!