One day when I was a young girl me and my father moved the TV so that it was perfectly situated that we could see it through the dining room door when we sat at the table for dinner. It was very apparent that evening what we had done when during the meal my mother was trying to talk to us and we were not listening to her, not even a little. She got up, pushed back her chair, went and retrieved a pair of scissors, and then cut the cord that ran from the TV to the wall. We would not have a TV in our house again for a long time.
I don’t remember missing TV as a child. I for sure thought it was cool that other kids had TVs, or even *gasp* video games, however, I don’t think my life was at a deficit for not having had moving pictures on a daily basis.
If anything it encouraged my reading. By the age of 12 I had read all of the books in my house, and could often be found at my local library. I quickly became disenchanted with the children’s section and would spend my time scouring the thousands upon thousands of books in the adult section. Well-intentioned volunteers would often tell me then I must be lost and give me directions back to the children’s room to which I would kindly smile and say ”No thank you.”
So in moving out of my childhood home it just never occurred to me to buy a TV, and nobody ever offered one to me, so I just didn’t have one. Now that doesn’t mean that I don’t stream things onto my computer or go to the movie theaters it just means that TV is not a part of my daily life. However now I have children, and I can definitely see the appeal of TV. Because you can put these small people in front of a screen and slowly back away and nobody follows you, or screams, or asks a question.
However my personal experience is that I pay for these moments of solitude later. The language that children pick up, and the ideas conveyed are often beyond their ability to grasp or digest and I see my children act out in ways that heretofore have been unmentionable. The beauty of the story read or told is that children conceive in their own minds what they are able to process at that point in time. There is a beautiful quote that says fairytales do not teach children that dragons exist, they teach children that dragons can be killed. What I love about this idea is that children are aware of good and evil in the world and it’s important to know that even the dark parts of themselves can be slain. I find that the stories portrayed predominately in TV and movies are more harmful than helpful. That all being said life is not black-and-white there are lots of gray areas. When I have a meeting and my childcare has fallen through, I will have my children watch something while I phone in. Or when I’m so sick that moving makes me want to vomit, I will put a movie on. I think when used as a tool rather than a necessity it has a role in the lives of families and young children.
Now kids aside as an adult I have my own relationship to streaming shows off the Internet or movies for that matter. I enjoy having something as a background to doing something with my hands such as folding laundry, or knitting, or decorating all the switch plate covers at my house. However me and my husband have an agreement with our evening time. And that is if we are folding laundry together we will watch a movie. However if not we will play a game together, or read a book together, or do yoga, or just talk and maybe a little something extra *wink*. I find that without the distraction of a screen we are able to connect on a much more basic level that is absolutely necessary at least for me when coparenting small children. Because the reality is we don’t actually talk to each other during the day, we generally talk at each other with the children present. We cover the logistical tasks that need to be completed throughout the day. An evening space free of children and TV gives us the opportunity to connect like we did when we were in the act of wooing. So try it for a week. Turn the TV off and see what happens with your kids, see what happens to yourself, and see what happens to your marriage.