When we first moved into our new house, we bought a beautiful entertainment center. It was a focal point of our living room, and it looked rather nice. But our living room is small, and we needed a place to put the Christmas tree. To make room, we moved the entertainment center into the closet. When we got rid of the tree after the holidays, we rather liked the open space in the living room. But could we go TV-free? We decided to give it a try. Now we wonder how other people have time for TV watching!
There are many reasons to pull the plug on your TV. You could read commentary on websites like this one and this one that explain it quite well. Here are the top 5 benefits we’ve found from pulling the plug:
1. We come into contact with much less advertising. This is probably the top reason for me. The Bean’s childhood is not filled with corporate logos, and she decides for herself whether she likes something. If we want something, we research it on our own, without the influence of constant advertising.
2. We are not bombarded with the “American Dream.” Commercials are not the only advertising. What about the homes, the lifestyles, etc. that are portrayed as “normal” on television? Most people are not well-to-do, and most people are not living on 6 figures. However, watching TV will convince you otherwise. And don’t even get me started on those “home improvement” shows, where people live in a “small” house that’s only…say…2000 square feet or so! The shows themselves tend to breed so much materialism.
3. We’re not tempted by the “baby-sitter channel.” Yes, you can keep a certain channel on all day, and your toddler will be happy and your house clean. But the studies are clear on the effects of constant TV viewing on kids’ development. The shows are so simple, and television viewing is by its very nature a passive activity, and not nearly as beneficial as hands-on, exploratory activities that build creativity and problem-solving. Yes, we have a portable DVD player, which we use on long car trips and when the poor Bean is sick.
4. The Bean is not exposed to as many gender stereotypes. This is very important to us. Face it, the Disney princess are not exactly strong women! We prefer to select smart women who choose a man (or not!) based on more than just the fact that he is a prince. There are plenty out there, but most are not in the mainstream.
5. We spend much more time interacting with each other. Again, television viewing is a passive activity. Without it, we have time to pursue our own hobbies, and we also spend more time doing activities together.
So what do we do instead of television watching? We spend some time online, which is more active, although we are trying to limit our time there. We read, we listen to the radio and to music. We dance together, we cook, we play games. We take walks and play outside. After the Bean goes to bed, Rob and I will sometimes watch our latest find from Netflix. Our tastes tend toward the obscure, which you would not find on TV. And when the DVD is over, the watching time is over.