Wednesday, 19 April 2017

We unplugged our television ... and it feels great!

We unplugged the television in January and after just one day the kids forgot to ask for it.  I have to say I was more than a little surprised at how easy it was. I had braced for big (huge) arguments.

Something had to change!

We were never huge watchers and avoided commercials, we had constructive conversations about what we watched, but something had to change. Things were out of hand around the telly.

The turning point for me was noticing that our 3 year old boy was starting to become addicted. We had clear limits but he threw tantrums when we refused to turn it on, and when it was time to turn it off again. I thought we had been managing it well, but it was becoming clear that a big shift had to happen to change this pattern. He was watching 'educational' programs on ABC but still, this wasn't healthy. 

Impact of television

There's a lot of research out there about the impact of watching too much television (for all ages) and you've probably heard a lot about this - from obesity, depression, anxiety, decreased brain function, behavioural problems and more. 

There is really so much more to be doing with our lives - playing, telling stories, hanging out with friends, reading, connecting with nature, watching the stars, riding a bike ...

Redesign our living space

It's been 3 months since we disconnected our television and honestly we don't miss it at all, in fact we are so very happy we did this. The big black screen is still sitting up on the wall - a relic perhaps. We don't know what to do with it, and haven't got around to creating a replacement piece of artwork to put over the holes we drilled into the wall - aha - a great task for the kids! 

Got to get rid of the TV still hanging on the wall. We'll remove it soon, and the shelves. We've decided to turn this corner into an art and picture gallery displaying colourful pieces we create and images of fun active things we do together.

One huge bonus is that we have re-designed our living space to ignore the telly on the wall. The couch is no longer looking toward the wall with our backs to the room. Now when we relax on the couch, we face into the room, toward the people in it, and toward a beautiful view out across the lake and forested hills in the distance...a much better outlook!

Without even realising it, we allow the television to dominate the way we design rooms, even house layouts.  I love the way our main living space feels now ... sans telly.

Selective media watching

We still do watch some media, but we are all far more selective of content because we can manage that now. The children can select specific things to watch online as part of their homeschooling, such as:
The computers they use are in a shared space so the screen is easily visible and we can monitor and share the experience with them. They take notes while they are watching, and what they learn becomes part of their interesting table conversation.

Little Monty is allowed select from the ABC iView app for a short periods.

There's so many more hours in the week without television

Evan and I thought we might select interesting documentaries, but typically we don't watch anything in the evenings any more. I feel far more productive, energised and uplifted doing other things in the evening. We:

  1. spend more quality time with the kids and each other
  2. share our ideas 
  3. play music
  4. research things we want to learn about
  5. read great books
  6. write
  7. design and plan eco-living workshops
  8. make short films
  9. do some exercise

There are suddenly so many more hours available each week.

Even though we were always quite selective in what we watched and we never turned the telly on until the kids had gone to bed, I realise in my adult life I have wasted an enormous amount of time just sitting watching - just to switch off for a bit - just for some downtime at the end of the day. 

Turn off the TV for the kids and for yourself.

What started out as an action motivated by wanting to improve things for our kids, has ended up being a huge bonus for us 'grown-ups' and the family as a whole.  

Many of you reading this have already done this too, perhaps a very long time ago. I am happy to be joining you and if you haven't tried it yet, I wholeheartedly recommend giving it a go.

Have you tried? What impact did it have in your life?

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  1. Good morning Morag,
    I only watch two shows all week, Landline and Gardening Australia, I just love them. I watch them on Sundays from 12 till 1.30, so in total it's only an hour and a half. I so enjoy these shows and get so much from them.
    For a long time, a few years ago, I was unable to sleep due to a hormonal imbalance, it's is now corrected and I sleep so soundly, but sleep is still my main priority. I go to bed really early and read a book or catch up on blogs I love for half an hour before going to sleep, that's the way I wind down. I don't miss TV at all and just love my life without it. Have a wonderful day.

  2. Huge Step!
    I pretend we don't watch much TV around here, but that's not true really, certainly it is off all day when the kids are at school, but of an afternoon/evening it gets a workout.
    I would love to family on the other hand...I don't think I could convince them. I must put some thought into a compromise....hmmm.

  3. Congrats! I love that you've done this and I totally get the slippery slope into TV addiction and reliance in my case. I find that no TV during the school week works well for us as a medium. The kids time on the device is limited (30 mins each weekend day) but I'm struggling with their desire to investigate things and search things cause I like to do that too. I have always disliked the TV being centre of the living space so we have a small TV for that reason but I'm inspired to move the sofas around too. My husband has back problems so the sofas face the tv but then he and I watch it so very rarely maybe I can convince him to move it around. Thanks!

  4. We still have TV, but it doesn't get turned on for days at a time. Our children are grown so no problems there. In fact, they've all stopped watching TV, for the most part. The computer has taken it's place. I'm not sure that's a good idea, either. Only one (adult) child and my husband are on Facebook. The three of us not on Facebook sleep better and get more done, I truly believe. (I loathe Facebook!) I also don't have a fancy phone, drive a new car or wear expensive clothes. Life is much better without electronic gadgets!

  5. I have done the TV free thing at various times, I agree its wonderful, I dont know why it creeps back into our lives. The best set up we had was when the TV was in a lined shed out of sight and mind. We could pop a movie on, or I could send the kids out if I wanted. But I could also lock the room and it would be a non-issue.

    Id love our lives to be TV free, it winds the children up I swear. This morning (school holidays) the kids watched TV first thing, as they usually don't. They are grumpy, irritable and fighting with eachother non-stop. It is off now but this post has made me consider making the rest of the holidays TV free except for the odd movie night or something. TV free is one of those things both parents need to be completly onboard with, which makes it a tricky issue to navigate gently and fairly.

    Great post. :)


  6. I haven't had cable for 17 years. Occasionally I do use the TV to watch DVDs or project PPTs from a laptop when I have a need to. Now my time grabber is the computer. Bill Bilodeau,St. Petersburg, Florida, USA

  7. I grew up without TV - we were avid readers and conversationalists, I still am an excellent listener and can take comprehensive clear notes during meetings and lectures. I put this listening and comprehension down to no TV and having to fully engage in human conversation

  8. That's fantastic! I have wanted to do this for many years, however, my husband is not on board (rats!).
    I was thinking I could try to limit the kids (they are limited, but we have no defined rules or structure, as such) to selective media watching (as you have done) - do you mind sharing how you have defined their limits? Eg. particular times or days,time limits etc..?

  9. That's fantastic! I have wanted to do this for many years, however, my husband is not on board (rats!).
    I was thinking I could try to limit the kids (they are limited, but we have no defined rules or structure, as such) to selective media watching (as you have done) - do you mind sharing how you have defined their limits? Eg. particular times or days,time limits etc..?

  10. A great idea and I'm not surprised by the results, I may have to give this a go myself. I have already taken to reading more than much of what Netflix has to offer.