Tuesday, July 17, 2007

No TV kid

I thought I would share this article from The Globe & Mail. I grew up without television through all those formative years - I'm not saying I'm for or against kids growing up with the Time Waste Machine 2020, I do however think there is a whole lot to be learned without one. Thankfully, I had an older brother with an oh-so creative mind. A lot of our days were spent outside - when we were younger, our Mom would bundle us up and send us outside for hours (she did tell us to come inside if we felt frostbite coming on :). With the HUGE snow dunes we'd build tunnels, play fox and goose and when my brother was older he built an ice rink in the back yard several years in a row. We'd also go down to the creek and take our toboggans/GT and go screaming down the banks onto the hopefully frozen creek. The creek and hundred acre woods behind our place was always an adventure, in the summer we'd take our garage sale fishing equipment and catch the little 6" whatever they were, or twigs. Later on in my bros teenage years he built a raft out of "sealed" barrels and plywood on top, needless to say it sank, and each spring thaw it moves further down the creek. Oh, speaking of spring thaw - when the fields were covered in mini lakes and we'd take our inner tube with plywood and a long stik for pushing us around, until one time we sprung a leak and had to bail...our rubber boots didn't come home with us that time, I remember thawing our frozen feet in the bath tub (cold mud+bare feet=frozen).
I can only hope I have as much faith in children as my Mom did in us, letting us go out for hours on end, either that or she was hoping we'd get lost...lol.
At times we wished we had television or at least been able to watch movies, that was short lived - our parents would tell us be thankful and go downstairs to play with our cool chalkboard.
Now adays I can't say I watch more than the local channels, mostly for evening news (news junkie) and I'm still happily entertained hanging out with friends sometimes 5 nights a week, taking face plants with my roller blades or cooking dinner. Then with daquiri in hand watching some pretty amazing sunsets (for some reason I've really noticed them this year). Cheers!

How I became a televangelista
From Tuesday's Globe and Mail
July 17, 2007 at 10:19 AM EDT

I am one of "those" parents. You know, the ones who don't have cable TV.
Before you think I am smug about this, please know that back when we first decided to turn off the tube, I sulked.

I resented not being able to access Oprah repeatedly in the middle of the day. In my first week post-TV, I would head out at 4 o'clock each afternoon to caress my WWOD (What Would Oprah Do) bumper sticker.

It only took three years, but I've come around.
After all, there are clear benefits. Here are the top four victories that our no-cable status has granted us:

1. Our child doesn't reflexively turn on the tube whenever he wants. Now I just have to get him to stop compulsively typing illegible things on my computer while I'm work-z9$888.
2. He doesn't see his parents always default to watching TV, so he learns that we derive entertainment in other ways. Even if those ways do not always include reading educational books together, or making inventive crafts or doing hearty exercise. Even if they simply involve, uh, sitting around.
3. We're holding at bay the snarkiness that has crept into a lot of children's programming. We hope.
4. No commercials.

Now, to be clear, we do let our children watch videos that we rent for them. We're not those parents. I mean, not to judge, but let's call the Children's Aid Society on those guys.

But when I mentioned my family's TV-free status in my blog at globeandmail.com, some folks wanted to call the CAS on me. It's like I refuse to let my children use indoor plumbing.

A few respondents argued that by not providing our children with TV we are setting them up to become social outcasts, recluses or worse - writers. Man, I don't want that.

Fear not. Due to the pervasive force of peer pressure, most no-TV kids are as up on Lindsay Lohan and Batman as their friends - and as pushy about the accompanying kitsch they want us to buy for them - without the munchkins ever having seen a single show.

Still, the root of the argument against my no-TV decision seems to be based on the broader notion that kids should fend for themselves. Toughen up and take on life's challenges without Mommy stepping in to protect them from evil cultural influences. This often goes with, "Well heck, television was good enough for me, and I turned out okay, so it should be good enough for my kid."

Here's the problem with this philosophy: It ignores the fact that you are no longer riding in a station wagon with faux wood panelling on the sides; you've just surfed this thing called the Web, and times change. Need evidence? Three words: low-rise jeans.

Could you have even imagined wearing pants with a belt buckle millimetres above your nether hairline when you were a kid? Yikes. (You look great in them, by the way.)
Let's face it, TV is qualitatively different now than when my family all watched Carol Burnett at dinnertime. The programming has become smarter and less scrupulous - reaching into our kids' hearts, minds and crotches.

And it starts so young. Kids are little sponges. It's adorable when you first hear your three-year-old say "actually," as in, "actually, Mama, a killer whale is a mammal," or when you hear something like "what the heck?" pop out of their little mouths.

But what about when they call you "Butthead" because they heard it on SpongeBob? Or when they start smacking other kids, because that's what Spider-Man does (WWSMD)?
Of course, it's a chicken-or-egg question: Are 21st-century kids aping what they see on TV? Or has TV become more sophisticated because today's kids are more sophisticated?
In other words, is TV reflecting or creating reality? Hmm. I don't know. That'd be a good Dr. Phil ... (No, no. I've quit.)

I know it's hard to resist the cathode rays. I recently spent a week away in a hotel room where, like a former addict, I immediately grabbed the remote and started flipping channels, greedily ingesting it all.

But within 10 minutes I was irritated, almost on a neurological level. Not only because the only thing on was reality-TV sadism, but also because the speed and volume of the commercials have become too high for me.

Not having TV must have cleared my head like quitting smoking would clear Denis Leary's lungs. And, admittedly, like a former smoker, I've become all televangelista in my efforts to make others quit, too.

Imagine the freedom and the power we'd have if we all chucked the remote.
If you are interested in joining our no-TV movement, just check out our ad - on YouTube.
Diane Flacks is an actor, writer, mom, multitasker and author of the book Bear With Me. http://www.dianeflacks.com/

1 comment:

Tiffany said...

Hey Zachary,

I totally agree. When we were kids, my brother and I did SO MUCH stuff outside and away from supervision. It's funny when I think of it, you're right, our parents used to trust us to disappear for hours at a time. Strange. That's why I'm glad to get out of Winnipeg really. But even then, I don't know how much I'd want my kids to wander away. I guess there were places we weren't allowed to go - mainstreet being the big one. As for the TV thing, I remember having shows we always watched, but I remember spending a LOT of time doing other stuff too. We had been talking about cutting the TV to help us to finish our house projects and pack, and I was kind of thinking that maybe we wouldn't be too eager to turn it back on after we moved. The lady in this article you put in here is totally right, there would probably be some withdrawal at the beginning, but you get used to doing other things. It might help us all to spend more time together doing family stuff, or reading, or writing (don't do ANY writing lately, bad). Talked to Steven about it today. He agrees. Welcome to the age of no TV for tif and steve. I'll let you know how it goes.