Television Free: A Social Experiment

When we moved from a 1,700 square foot house to a 1,300 square foot apartment (with five kids), we were aware that we were bucking the normal trend to go bigger. In addition, we decided to drop cable to save extra money. We both needed broadband Internet for work, so I bought a wireless router from Clear and subscribed to their basic plan for $35/month. We had only the local cable channels and Internet with our previous provider, yet it still cost more than $80/month. Saving $50/month is a big deal during a time of some uncertainty for us.

I can’t believe how much others pay for expanded cable channels, hi-def, DVR, etc. The costs quickly approach a car payment. And for what? An instant entertainment/gratification waste of time. A non-interactive babysitter that dumbs down my children’s intellectual potential. Word World might be cute and fun and teach a few words to my pre-schooler, but I can offer the same benefits by reading to her 20 minutes a day and trump the television with personal interaction.

After three weeks without television, I think I can say the results of our TV-free lifestyle are beneficial. My children play together all day. Their imagination has exploded, and their attention span is getting longer. They are physically tired at 8 p.m. and ready to go to bed, a BIG plus for us because bedtime was almost always a struggle and usually ended around 9 or 9:30 p.m. We miss very few shows, and we can always pick those up on the Internet when and if we decide to get a television that is compatible to a PC connection. Our old television is not, so it sits in the corner and serves as a landing strip for imaginary car-planes.

Television is a personal choice. A want, not a need. So, don’t let society fool you into wasting money and time on something that offers no eternal value and little educational benefit. The time we previously dedicated to staring at a screen is now spent playing with our children, forming relationships with real people, and planning activities that exercise the mind and the body. That’s life, people.

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