In America, we have certain unalienable rights. Life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. The pursuit of happiness has been applied to a broad range of things in this country. With the advent of the TV in the 1950’s, this newfangled technology became a part of the happiness of almost every American overnight.
Then fast forward 60+ years. Now we have to have portable phones that have a computer built right in, giving us access to every thing the world has to offer. And I have to sit in a classroom and explain why a student’s “pursuit of happiness” is being stifled for an hour.
If you are about to leave, I understand. There are certain subjects we don’t like to touch on. The fact that I am, at this minute, writing this post to be displayed on social media makes me a hypocrite.
I think entertainment choices have become a very polarizing topic. Each parent sets different standards for their kids on screen time. Some set no standard at all. And we don’t like to be challenged on these things lest we think our parenting skills could use improvement. We are, after all, millennials. No improvement needed.
Nevertheless, I have a personal story and challenge for you folks out there who are desperate. You see your kids growing up before your very eyes. Feeling invisible because you cannot possibly compete with celebrities and Disney channel parents who are always witty and cool.
Stephen and I are careful as to what our kids watch on TV. We are not by any means anti-media. We want our kids to learn to use media responsibly, and if we don’t let them use it at all, they will never learn how to use it the right way.
We have set up time limits, block out times, parental controls. And yet, we cannot stand guard over the TV.
As soon as I leave the room, the TV goes on. I turn it off. Leave the room. It’s back on. I give them chores (cause they must be bored to keep turning on the TV). The TV goes back on and the chores are undone. Or my favorite, I tell them to go outside on the most perfect day God ever made. They come back in after five minutes… and the TV is back on.
Sound familiar? I thought so.
I had enough of this addiction. Life is too short to stare at a phone or tablet or television screen. The best relationships happen face to face. Work ethic is not learned on google. Instagram has nothing on photos seen in real life.
Armed with this realization and knowing we all (myself included) needed a break, I did something drastic.
I took the TV out of our living room. Out of our house. It’s taking a vacation. Yeah. It’s on summer vacation.
As we speak it is sitting on a filing cabinet in my husband’s office.
The kids weren’t sure if I was bluffing. It’s not been back for two weeks. Life has been different. Better.
- They have gotten more creative with their free time. I thought maybe they had forgotten about things like “pretend play” and making up games. They hadn’t. The kids just didn’t have a need for such creativity when it was done for them by the “stupid box.”
- They help out around the house more. When you aren’t looking at the screen, you see things that need to be done. Thus, helping ensues.
- They pay better attention. Sometimes. We are still working on this. But I no longer have to compete with Spongebob.
- They are outside a lot more. Stay inside and stare at the wall or play? Hm… easy answer.
I will give updates as to how this is going for our family. I will say that we do still have a TV in our bedroom (Stephen and mine), but they have no way to watch it without our phones, which they also don’t have. I’m not opposed to the occasional treat or a rainy day movie. Unrealistic expectations really aren’t my thing.
Giving the TV a vacation wasn’t something I thought I would ever do, but I am enjoying it a lot. It was a spontaneous decision, and I was seen as a bad person for awhile. My prayer is that my kids will realize that media is a treat and not a meal and use it accordingly. And really myself as well. Who couldn’t benefit from a screen free summer?