Here’s a good question that we receive every now and then, and it takes some explaining: “What are your thoughts on TV?” We have some good thoughts on this, and it deserves a blog posting.
Here’s a blog comment from Abby a couple weeks ago:
What is your view on children watching TV? I wasn’t sure if you guys have one or if you watch the news and such via the internet. I attended a homeschool conference a few years ago where we were strongly encouraged to throw it out. We have one in the sitting room (nowhere else)and do limit the time (and the programs) but my 5 do watch some (the oldest is 11). I just wondered how you guys managed this? If it is too personal, please just ignore my comment, I just wondered.
Abby, this is a great question, and it’s not too personal at all. We don’t do television, and people sometimes think we’re from an alien planet because of it. We don’t think we’re missing much. Let me tell you our story.
In 1996, my family (just 5 children at the time) gave up television for Lent. It wasn’t a legalistic conviction at all, just something to give up in the 40 days leading up to Easter. In those 40 days, we substituted our time that we regularly spent in front of the tube with family activities like reading. I read To Kill a Mockingbird and thoroughly enjoyed the time. After Easter came, we thought to ourselves, “Do we really want the tube back in our living room?” We decided no, and it hasn’t been back since.
Every once in a while we’re tempted to go back. When traveling, we’ll click on the tube for convenience sake. Soon all the kids are crowded around the TV watching some brainless show about nothing. Even if it is an educational show, we ask ourselves what the kids could have been doing in its stead. When on the road, our children are much more apt to hang at the pool than sit in front of the TV.
When we were featured on TLC in 2007, we were persuaded to get a satellite television set up. We’re thankful we had a 30-day money-back guarantee. We watched our show when it debuted (that’s why we got the thing in the first place), but then thought maybe we could find wholesome and educational shows to watch, perhaps keep the subscription. We spent so much time trying to weed through the junk, and even when the good programming was on, commercials would inevitably disturb us.
Besides, just like with the hotel rooms, we wondered, “What are our children missing?” We have a 6.5 acre piece of property with a creek, a zip line, two trampolines, 7 or 8 cats, playground, etc., etc. My boys have taken over my garage and tools, constantly building something. “Dad, look what I built!” is center of discussion, not “Dad, you know what they built on TV?” Other kids are into computer programming, video editing, debate prep. The little ones draw and color like crazy. Conversation is loud and robust, no one at loss for a discussion about whatever exciting thing is going on at the moment.
Really, are we so strange because we don’t watch the tube? I kind of like our strangeness.
Here’s one reason I go back to the idea of watching television: research. When a joke is made about a popular television show, we really have no idea what the joke is about. I used to love to follow NFL football, but now going to a Super Bowl party is my only chance. Today, with YouTube and iTunes downloads, there isn’t any pertinent information that we couldn’t retrieve if we really wanted to.
But, ultimately, there isn’t much that grabs our attention or justifies our time. Our lives are way too busy for TV. Is there really anything we’re missing out on? These are our thoughts, but we would love to hear yours. Please comment!