Monday, June 3, 2013

The Television Diet

I’ve gone on a television diet and I’m hoping that unlike the weight people often gain back after crash dieting that I manage to keep this weight off. We still watch tv but now we are watching much, much, much less.
The fact that I watched too much tv was far from news to me. I grew up with family members that leave tvs on all around their houses just as background noise. I’d gotten very used to that and even a bit comforted by it. Some nights I even chose to use the television to fall asleep – that’s how used to it I was.

Periodically commercials would invade my dreams and somehow I managed to ignore or not notice how unacceptable this really was.  A movie I like or an interesting show might wake me up, even energize me to the point where I watched longer than I should have before falling back asleep.

These are the actions and habits of someone who has "a television problem" and to make matters worse I was worried I was passing it on to our daughter. When previously I thought it was adorable to find my child under the age of one passed out in the floor from watching Sesame Street I was no longer able to see it that way. Only months ago I would joke about how she would wake up in the morning and immediately tell me she wanted to watch Elmo.

Pediatricians aren't the only people or source out there telling you to try to keep your childrens screen time under two hours a day. At first I tried my hardest to avoid letting her even see the tv, but eventually I caved and it became easy to just turn it on for her. Too easy. I told myself it was okay because I would only let her watch educational television.
I've got news for you - tv is tv no matter what's on it. It sounds obvious but it really isn't
Only somewhat recently did I come to truly understand what is meant by, "screen time." We're subjected to lots of screens - tvs, computers, cell phones, hand-held gaming systems, e-readers, etc. I'd managed to notice yet not notice just how many screens I was surrounded by.

Back in March some of you may remember my tweeting about how cutting off our cable seemed like bad timing during March Madness. The choice was one forced upon us. Cable is an expensive luxury we just wouldn't afford - but we still had Netflix. 

We had been using Netflix far more than the actual tv for so long I can't even try to guess just how long it had been and not being subjected to commercials seemed like a serious bonus.

A few weeks ago I walked away from the tv - almost entirely - allowing only about an hour of tv a day. During this hour it wasn't usually even me who was watching the tv - it was my daughter. She missed tv. In fact, she would walk up to the tv and turn it on, or grab a remote and turn one on, or; on occasion, she would even turn the XBox on by herself and hand me a controller.

I missed the tv as well. I was so used to it that I almost didn't even know what to do without it on in the background to catch my attention throughout the day.

Children adapt quickly and I'd say by the end of the week she began to ask less and less. She still asks and still sometimes turns on the tv but she will actually turn it down when offered during my decreasing moments of exasperated weakness and desire for a moment "alone."

The combination of less tv (leading to sensory overload) and the toy library has left me with a child that is a little easier to get to sleep, throwing less tantrums, and is now very obviously having more imaginative and creative play time.

As for myself, I'm feeling a lot less daily stress in general. Series of events that would have left me complaining about a terrible day now no longer seem like such a big deal. Whatever was going on was rough and unpleasant - but hey, that day wasn't bad at all!

Now I just need to work on decreasing my other forms of screen dependance and I'll really be on to something.

No comments:

Post a Comment