Our Personal Freedom from TV

After reading Robin’s blog “Who Spends Time With Your Children?”, I realized my long drawn out comments were better off in my own blog.

I have been tv free for almost 15 yrs. It started out against my will, but I learned to find other things to fill that time (such as studying Scottish Gaelic). I was truly free from it and couldn’t believe I had wasted so much time in front of it for so long.

I grew up in a family where the tv was on from 7 am to bedtime every day. My parents seemed to live for Prime Time and my mother was addicted to soap operas. And I had my own tv (b&w initially) in the seclusion of my own bedroom at the age of 5. (It’s a good thing I could be trusted, for the most part, not to watch something I was told not to watch.) In my early teens, I received the gift of cable tv for one year. It was a household thing. It was in my bedroom exclusively. I watched a lot of Donna Reed that year. It’s no wonder I couldn’t be bothered with doing my homework. Between MTV and Nick at Night, who had time?

Our family (now) has never had access to tv in our home. My husband was tv free when we married because he had to choose between cable and food. We never acquired it because we both knew it was so full of junk we didn’t want to watch anyways and would spend just as much going to Blockbuster. Cable tv seemed pointless and so it was never invited into our home.

We do have tvs…three (3) to be exact. Only one actually gets used on a somewhat regular basis. We do watch things. We like to pick tv series that have been out for several years, Netflix them and watch them together. But our tv is on much less than the average American household. I do a little happy dance at the end of the day when I realize we never turned it on all day.

A lot of what we watch has educational value too. The things that aren’t as obvious, we use for family discussion and critical thinking.

Everything our children watch via dvd or video is approved by and/or watched with us. The dvd player is out of their reach (due to the armoire design), yet they don’t seem to care. And if you have ever rented a dvd that is all scratched up you know there are plenty of people who think dvds are indestructible…which they aren’t. So, for investment purposes, children in our house are not allowed to carelessly and recklessly handle dvds. We’re not control freaks. They are given opportunities and lessons and also know the pain of ruining a dvd that we won’t replace.

Our children have not been entirely sheltered either. They have seen real time tv at my in-laws and on vacations, so they know the difference between what the world does and how we use our tv. It was hysterical the first time they encountered a commercial and real time tv. The boys were 4 & 5, we were in a hotel, and Star Wars was on some channel. The movie was interrupted with a commercial and the protesting began: “What happened to my movie?” We explained the phenomena of commercials. Then we went out to dinner and returned. They wanted to pick up Star Wars where they had left off. Uh…sorry, that doesn’t happen. This is “real” tv. Oh boy were they mad! We laughed on the inside. They hated “real” tv and we were so happy.

As much as we may watch movies or tv shows in our modified form, this experience is much different than what either of us had growing up. TV doesn’t demand our time on it’s own inflexible schedule. We have complete control. For us, that is what it means to have freedom from tv.


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