Sunday, January 10, 2010

Don't Kill Your TV!

I was laying in bed nursing Orion down for his nap today while I watched Anthony Bourdain, "No Reservations" My heart began to pound excitedly as he shared about his travels through Egypt. The food, the people, the culture... Having this amazing visual window into the world is a tool unlike any other available in our human existence.

As I watched, while snuggling my son, I became inspired to share the *Truth* about TV.

I clicked through the channels and I was introduced to Italian cooking, survival skills in the wild, and infectious Salsa music. I became inspired by stories of hope and brought to tears by the beauty of the Grand Canyon, Niagara Falls and the Florida Everglades. I watched beautiful dance, gymnastics and mountain climbing. I saw true human passion and triumph. I saw Excitement, Joy and Love. I was inspired to travel, to do, to see and experience.

This window into possibility and potential is an such an amazing tool in our lives and one that I can't imagine living without.

There is a lot of anger surrounding television in the naturally minded community. Articles about "killing your TV" are everywhere and they are so steeped in a fear and misinformation. This same type of witch-hunting, angry mindset was present before the invention of TV with radio and before that comic books. TV has only been popular in homes since the 1950's! It is such a new invention historically and the way that many people react to it is common when something "new" comes on the scene.

When used as a tool for expansion, joy, pleasure and growth, television is as valid and enriching as any book out there! Even more so! I owe so much in my life through being introduced to it through TV.

After my last post, someone commented inquiring about freedom and children and television viewing. When television isn't restricted and parents and children live in a partnership paradigm, rather than the cultural authoritarian paradigm, kids aren't afraid to ask parents questions about topics introduced to them through television. There has never been a time where any of my children were interested in watching something that I "disapproved" of. Most adult programs do not interest them at all, so it is a non-issue. When kids are trusted and supported, the common arguments about TV like, commercialism, addiction and damaging visuals aren't part of the equation. It's like saying, "If a child has a library card, won't they take out too many books and damage their back, or take out something with content that could hurt them?" (Now...doesn't this sound absurd?)

Living a life of Freedom and Respect with my children, I can be a free-thinker. I can see the benefits of things that most people fear. I can bask in the knowing that my children are the proof and no "expert" can fear me into following their beliefs.

Open your eyes people! Stop fearing a tool that could bring so much into your lives! When you let go of the fears of others and see TV for what it really is, a learning tool and window into our amazing world, the shroud is lifted and the life of your family expands in endless directions!


Shady Lady said...

Thank you, Dayna. I needed this reminder. I have always believed this, but lately have gotten drawn in by the mainstream. A very timely post!!

lotusbirther said...

For me it isn't so much about the "tv" as the tv, lol - the cathode ray tubes, the aggressive marketing, the fast cuts that confuse the eye.
We use a flatscreen internet linked pc as an alternative and we all love it but you know, the advertising and flashing lights/fast cuts are just following right along.
I don't know what, if any, the real answer is to manage sensibly, especially with very young children.

Strangely, on the library book issue - we were actually reprimanded by the head librarian of our local library for borrowing too many books! Not more than the tickets allow, just up to the maximum number. I can tell you it did not make me feel good about the library system here the way we were presented with that opinion. In fact I could go on about our libraries - the central city library here refuses to issue periodicals until the date shown on the cover - usually pne to two months after they have been published. So I can say for sure that the library system here is not a route to take to keep up to date with the world around us :)

More power to you that you are able to bring your children up in a way that is in harmony with your beliefs and recognition of their spiritual development, in whatever form that takes.

Stephanie said...

Like :)
We have never had tv limits or issues, it's nice to see that others don't :)

debbie333 said...

Hi I stumbled across your site and clicked onto your blogs. I'm 42 yrs old and in the last three years of my life have primarily not watched tv, and it has been part of what has changed my life for the better. Now if I had been brought up in an environment like yours I do believe it would have been different for me. I do see the good in tv viewing, there are many wonderful channels now with cable but when you have been brought up in a negative environment and tv was your primary entertainment as a child with a working single mother, we watched what ever we wanted, which was not always good. Out of curiosity of the world I viewed a lot of unhealthy shows. Commercials greatly effected my esteems as well. So, in order for me to get a grip and find my own beliefs and create my own reality, i stopped watching tv. 3 yrs later, I now have that grip and am able to watch tv selectively with great enjoyment. I think it's wonderful the way you are raising your children and sharing it with those who want to know and understand. I would love to see this method put into Daycares for the parents who can't stay at home with their children. And because I have that desire, it will become.

Sarah said...

Thank you Danya - I started thinking that my daughter Maeve might be enjoying the dvd's too much and started looking for information on the effects of television - I didn't find anything that really helped most of it with too hard and fast rules that didn't take into account the child that was watching and what they were like or interested in. I just had a thought to see how you guys were going, I read your blog often and really love the way you think and embrace the law of attraction, I have learnt a lot from reading your posts. Anyway you popped into my head and there was your views and thoughts on television. It sat right in me as I read it.

Thank you for your time in posting about your unschooling life. I really appreciate it.

Sarah, Australia

Anonymous said...

My 10 year old son does watch a show that I think is very obnoxious and I would never choose to watch, if he weren't inviting me to watch it with him! He LOVES Family Guy. I think it's terrible! He has learned some pretty adult stuff from watching the show, but he hasn't turned into a monster because he watches it. He also enjoys Mythbusters, Man vs. Wild, etc. He also plays very violent video games, yet he's a very sweet and caring kid.

I struggled for a long time over whether to let him watch shows like Family Guy. He has been interested in watching them since he was very young. I finally decided that I needed to trust that he could handle it. He knows that I struggled with it, and he's so thankful that I trust him enough to watch things without regards to ratings. I still look into games, movies, and shows...and we discuss things.

Great job with this post!

Aimee said...

I think TV may be a bad example...I didn't mean to comment that I think it is a horrid thing--we have a TV set and my kids have watched some videos when it is a rainy day and they feel like it would be a fun thing to do. We have some great nature videos, travel ones, along with the regular "kid" ones. We don't have TV in our living room because of financial constraints--so TV isn't something we "limit" because we hate it so much as we just don't choose to spend money on it.

I guess a different way to question this would be to refer to your statement about library books. Do we "limit" library books? No--and we have never had an issue with what our kids read. My oldest is 6 and she reads at about a 7th or 8th grade level. So finding her stuff that interests her and challenges her is tricky because she is NOT interested in adult/older kid stuff. That is great. But, for example, a few weeks ago she was reading the front page of the paper and asked me, "Mom--what does it mean to 'rape and strangle'?" When I asked her why she was asking she said some guy was on trial for doing that to his neighbor. So what now? Do I put a limit on her reading the newspaper? She loves it--geography, nature, world affairs...all of it. So do I explain it to her? 6 seems a bit young to me to know what rape is. This is the kind of fine line I wonder about. I'm not a proponent of limiting TV, but I don't think kids need all the commercials and other stuff they are exposed to while watching TV. Same with the newspaper, apparently. I'm not sure I want my 6yo exposed to that side of human nature just yet.

Dayna, do your kids have any limits at all? When (if?) Orion bites you while nursing, do you tell him "no"? My youngest bit me the other day and I put him down and told him that made me sad. He hasn't done it since. But that is a limit, isn't it?

I'm not trying to be negative, I'm just curious as to the kinds of things you let your kids be exposed to and at what ages, etc. Like I said before, I love your blog and I am loving unschooling my daughter.

Thank you for this discussion. I'm enjoying hearing all the different ideas here.

Margaret said...

Dayna's back! 3 posts this year already! I'm coming out of lurkdome to say thank you thank you because you're posts are always a magnificent reminder and encouragement to me of the way I want to travel, even though I sometimes get sidetracked.

I have your book faithfully on my bedside table and I reread sections whenever I seem to be losing my way (reverting to the control paradigm or thinking something's 'wrong') but your blog posts are such wonderful additional help and inspiration.

Thank you so much for your blog :)

Lauren said...

Thanks for the post. I agree, there are some fantastic programs that open new worlds on the TV.

My concern is that there is so much mass marketing aimed at children and designed to be sneaky. They aim to present in appropriate material to younger children, etc, etc.

I can fully understand that children without limits on TV will auto regulate and find a good balance. That is always my argument to those who won't let their children have any kind of sweets or treats, if they are allowed things, they don't over do it. And adult programming isn't the issue either for the reasons you stated. But in appropriate marketing is. Teen subject matter in young children's programming is becoming common and like the previous poster mentioned, what do you really want them learning and asking questions about when they're that young? I'm all for open minds and learning to work with the media, but the sneakiness and tactics by the mass-advertisers is still scary business...

Anonymous said...

I have a funny story. We live in New Zealand but have been over to the US a few times due to family living there. Well a couple of years back we went off to church and while the girls were at childrens church with quite a lot of other kids they were all asked who had been the first president of the US. No one knew except for my then 10 year old!! Her and my youngest daughter were the only "foreigners" in the room. When I asked her HOW she knew she said from Zack and Cody...the suite life!!!
2 Kiwi girls out of a "class" of kids from the USA and she was the only one who knew that part of the US history.

I found the whole thing really funny.

I love tv!!!!

Karen in NZ

Shirlinda_Momof3 said...

I enjoyed reading all the posts. We do set limits on TV. Not the time spent watching, they regulate that themselves. But we are selective about their shows/channels. Our oldest is 10 and probably has Asperger's (not labeled) and took everything VERY literally as a young child. She could not understand the difference between the fantasy of actors and their characters. And we are careful about the info we give them.

I would like to know how the mom handled the newspaper article. I have a background of abuse and we are constantly trying to find balance with our kids. When is a good time to talk about IT; is that exploration of themselves normal; etc? Maybe I can open a topic? Or would this be unacceptable? Maybe a private message?

Back to TV: The kids know we watch 'Mommy and Daddy' shows and that these are not appropriate for them (R). They accept this. But we watch many things with them that we would not let them watch on their own: COPS, Juno, Simpsons, and others. These make for great conversations.

We use TV as a learning tool. The Most Extreme is my 10 yo's favorite show! My 6 yo girl loves Birth Day; and my 7 yo son likes Nascar. We let them choose, but we monitor their choices and make sure we are aware of the content. This way we can have answers for any questions that may arise.

Anonymous said...

AMEN! I was raised with this philosophy and always feel like I'm all alone with my believes. Let's stop blaming TV, video games and food for kids acting out and look for the real causes.

To the parents who are more cpncerned about commercials than about TV, there is a way around this. You can find almost EVERYTHING your kid would want to watch online simply by googeling it. And I don't mean the illegal downloads. A lot of things can even be watched on the TV channels website, minus theOf course there is always TiVo and the possibility to rent DVDs instead of buying them. I personally cannot stand commercials but I do love my TV, especially the discovery channel which is apparently unusual for someone my age.

When I was about seven, I regularly watched medical reality TV, Dr Quinn Medicine Woman, The Simpsons and even the news. Non of this caused me any emotional distress, but yet I couldn't sleep for several days after seeing a mummy on TV...on the kids channel. So it's not always the things we think will scare them that really will in the end.

At age ten I had friends who were very restricted in every possible way and when they found out that I get to stay up late they begged me to record SEX COMMERCIALS for them. Viewing things such as these never even came to my mind. I played outside just as much as I watched TV and played video games. It all has been wonderful and I don't feel like any of that time was wasted or should have been spent doing schoolwork and chores.