Recently my husband and I made the decision to drastically cut down on our television time. We already were living without cable (yes it is possible), but we still watch shows and movies on Netflix. During the school year, Danger Girl would not get to watch anything during the weekday until school was over, then she could watch two shows or one movie. This worked out fairly well, except I noticed she had a tendency to plan her day around her television time. Don’t get me wrong, I was proud my daughter was becoming a planner like her mom, but I’m not sure her plans were very productive.
We went on like this, with me wondering how she had gone from wanting to spend her days outside to preferring to stare at a box, then at the beginning of summer she began wheeling and dealing for more television time. I did not give in (my husband was sometimes a different story), but it didn’t stop her from trying. Her play began to focus around what she was watching, and her conversations began to be riddled with what my husband calls “Sweet Life of Zach and Cody moments”. Anything we were speaking about could be connected in some way to her new favorite show. We weren’t letting her watch anything bad, but it seemed like a television addiction had taken over my child. My husband (who isn’t here as often because he is out providing for our family) began to notice a problem when Danger Girl would complain about going to the store because she was afraid she would miss out on her television time.
We decided that something needed to be done. Since we can’t really afford to send her off to camp all summer long, we decided to go television free during the weekdays. We sat down with Danger Girl and discussed the plan with her. After assuring her that this was a family rule, not just a rule for her, she reluctantly agreed. Just so she wouldn’t go through withdrawals, we told her she could have two shows on Saturday and Sunday.
The first two days of this new rule, she moped around the house complaining of having nothing to do, until she learned that was a dangerous thing to say to me. My suggestions of cleaning her room or picking up her stuff around the house were not as appealing to her as they were to me. After she finally let it sink in that the no television policy was here to stay, she began to look for activities to amuse herself.
We started with her bringing me books to read to her, then began to move towards her reading to herself or to Daddy and me. (this was a great relief as she had been reluctant to read before).She also began to draw and color, then to write, with help from mommy. Eventually this new hobby led to her making her own books. I also began to find her going outside more often despite the fact that she used to find it “too hot”. She started coming to the kitchen to willingly learn to cook. Arts and crafts became a joy. The other day she was making birds out of play-dough. I think she has finally accepted the loss of television as a way of life, and in so doing has found a greater desire for learning and exploring.