Life without TV

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My favourite part is when I tell people we don’t watch TV and they can’t believe it!

We haven’t been watching TV for over 6 years now. I remember I used to come back from office and park myself in front of the TV with a cup of tea. I would watch programs after programs but always have that empty feeling of non-productivity. I would lament about not having enough time to do any of the things I loved. I loved reading but I wasn’t reading enough. In fact, both of us used to come back from office and watch useless programs for hours. We needed to change something.

We decided we had to get rid of the TV (I mean the connection). And we have never regretted that decision. What also sealed the deal was having a baby. I didn’t want an onslaught of cartoon shows to make all our lives miserable. And it was one of the best decisions of my life.

Advantages of not watching TV

Couple time: When we stopped watching TV, we would play board games and have tea together. We would chat for long hours about our work, life, goals, etc. Time slows down when you are not watching TV.

No Boredom: It’s true. I have observed that kids who watch TV are easily bored otherwise. The reason is that TV offers a different kind of stimulation which cannot be matched by anything else like reading books or playing board games. I have never heard my 5 year old say he is bored. He always finds ways to entertain himself. He will write, create some variations of the games or read, or ask us to play with him.

Creative pursuits: When you are not sprawled in front of the TV in all your free time, you feel the energy and inclination to pursue your creativity. My husband keeps surprising me with his creativity – from a World Map on one of the Walls to a wooden book box for our son; from a little reading table for him to learning to make several Indian sweets like Kaju katli, Gulab Jamun, Boondi Laddoo and so many more things; he has been amazingly prolific.

Freedom from Advertisements: More than the programs, I am wary about the ads. Our son neither knows Chhota Bheem or Doremon, nor does he know KinderJoy. I am neither pestered for fancy merchandise of popular characters, nor for the latest chocolates or wafers or theme parties. TV is full of misleading messages like when you add certain powder to your milk, you will be stronger; when you eat certain noodles or cornflakes, you will be healthier. Actually, in a lot of ads kids are shown making faces at healthy food and milk, which influence kids in a wrong way. I do not add anything to my son’s milk, not even sugar. He loves it. And we eat healthy breakfast.

Freedom from Unnecessary messages: Since my son is at an impressionable age right now, I am uncomfortable with a lot of things that is shown on the TV. He does not have the experience or maturity to differentiate between real and make-believe. There are issues like gender stereotyping, violence, crime and poor self-image. Even music channels are no good. The less said the better about the lyrics and obscenity.

No dependence on TV: I was always clear that my son will never eat his food while watching TV no matter how much of an effort that may be. It’s easy to feed little kids while showing cartoons but I have seen what a vicious circle that is. I never fell prey to that situation. Also, you pay more attention to your food when you are not eating while watching TV.

Bonding with kids: The only thing kids really need is bonding time with parents, everything else is secondary. When there’s no TV, you play with your child, you talk to him, you bond. You have the opportunities to connect. You can’t expect kids to answer abstract questions like ‘how was your day?’ You need to sit with him, ask him ten different kinds of things to actually know how his day had been.

Freedom from Screen time worries: From 0-2 years of age, kids should have zero screen time; and after that, not more than 30-60 minutes. But that rarely happens in reality. I’m free of such worries. Sometimes we let him watch animated movies but that’s about it. And that also goes for laptops, computers, mobiles or tablets. With no screens around, we don’t have those daily power struggles.

Stimulating discussions: Our bedtime discussions are about galaxies and planets, instead of daily soaps.

Peaceful Mornings: Our mornings never start with blaring sounds of music channels or news channels. We exercise or have tea or chat or read newspaper.

Saves money: We still have our old CRT. We neither graduated to LCD, nor do we have any intentions of getting an LED TV. Technology becomes obsolete very frequently. I’m glad we are not shelling out money every two years to upgrade; and add to that the money saved for DTH services.

Disadvantages?

None so far. Yes, our parents sometimes threaten that they would not visit. But on a serious note, I am yet to find any disadvantage.

Here are a few perceived advantages of watching TV:

Educational and Informative: Some people say that kids learn a lot when they watch educational programs on TV. If you can control their TV viewing, it’s great. I didn’t want that headache and unnecessary power struggles. I also do not believe that they learn more from TV, they learn far more from reading, playing and doing things.

Feeling left out: Also called peer pressure. Personally, I’m quite happy in my ignorance. We also get the argument that kids might feel peer pressure when they grow up and they might feel left out. I would never stress out about a hypothetical situation. I will cross the bridge when I come to it.

News & latest updates: With internet, you get all the news anyways. It is like checking email 10 times in a day. It is really not required. You can check and respond to emails even twice. It is a myth that we need to be connected all the time. It actually makes you less productive.

One of the major reasons for moving to a TV-free life was to set an example for the little one. You need to practice what you preach. Moreover, if there is anything you really need to watch, there is always the internet.

And honestly, it isn’t as bad as it sounds. You do not miss something that you never experienced. We CHOSE to give up TV, while our son NEVER experienced having a TV at home. THIS is the life he has always known. Our lives do not revolve around TV programs neither do they fill our silences. Boredom is a boon for creativity and imagination.

So, if you are planning to go TV-free; I will say, go for it. It’s truly life-changing. There’s so much to do in life, why live vicariously!

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6 thoughts on “Life without TV

  1. What a great read, and nice to hear that you are setting such a good example for your child.

    I personally find a lot of value in some of the documentaries I have seen. Do you still use streaming services or go out to the cinema or have you bundled that all in with your no TV policy?

    When I eventually have children I would love to set a good example for them, and one of the main things would be to reduce the amount of time they spend in front of screens so thank you for sharing and keep up the good work.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi James, Thank you for dropping in.

      Actually, there is no problem with documentaries or selected movies or anything in which I’m sure about what he is exposed to AND that also shouldn’t become an addiction. Whenever we are traveling or visiting family, and we have a TV around, I encourage him to watch food, travel and animal channels.

      The benefits of not having a TV around are several but it may look as a sacrifice to some. For me it was a choice even for myself because I wanted more time for doing things that I love. There are a few things which happen gradually when you are not accustomed to watching TV daily like exploring your own creativity or just taking up anything challenging. It just happens. Also, I just hate that hypnotized look on the faces of kids (who are otherwise all over the place) when they are watching TV. They look like zombies.

      I think living without TV is a fantastic way to live. I will always be in favour of it.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. That’s great but without TV for one and a half years, I went insane as I cannot live without watching movies or TV shows. But it also helped me read more books :). I think if we limit the screen time, it is still ok. His vocabulary improved and we made him watch animal/dog shows as he loves dogs and I don’t plan on getting any.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Ha ha I understand. I used to watch FRIENDS non stop, all the time! I used to record all the FRIENDS’ episodes and watch them back to back. But everything is available online these days. My primary reason for removing TV was more time for myself. And then when my son came along, my resolve became stronger. I saw so many kids addicted to watching cartoons and they found everything else boring. They HAVE to watch TV when they are eating. These are all wrong habits. I have always read to my son, since the time he was 2 months old. He is quite an active boy but when he is reading, he is super-focused. I love that. You know, these days he is our home’s Scrabble champ because he is always looking out for big words to score better. It is fantastic. I have seen a lot of kids who aren’t interested in all these things, in fact, they cannot focus on these kind of activities for too long. There are several other reasons.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. What a great post, Reema! It’s heartening to know that there are others out there who are consciously saying no to TV. I’m so impressed that you have brought up your son never having had a TV in the house. That’s fantastic! I imagine that would be just wonderful for his cognitive and emotional development – having real, intelligent interactions rather than advertising and all the rest of it.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Lisa, thank you for dropping in.

      You are right, there are people who are consciously saying no to TV, though the number is still low. We got rid of the TV connection even before our son was born. I had seen the impact of TV on young kids. I certainly did not want that kind of scenario in my house. Ability to focus is such a huge benefit of not having a TV – for us as well as the kids.

      Liked by 1 person

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