Other comments about TV
I'm just presenting the view of an unschooling household with unschooled kids who don't live with broadcast tv.
I think this is a non-issue. The discussions aren't about whether or not to have a TV. The discussions are whether or not to allow children access to TV.
There is a huge power difference between adults and children. Children are well aware of it even if parents try their best not to exploit it.
If a home doesn't have a TV because the parents don't want it -- and especially if the parents don't like it -- that's a huge barrier between children and TV. It may not feel like a barrier to the parents. They can say "If the kids want it, we'll discuss it," or even "If the kids want it, we'll get them one," but it isn't the same situation as a family just not having broadcast TV because of location or finances or truly mutual choice. They may outwardly look the same, but inwardly the children don't have the same freedom of choice.
Last month we were a non-car magazine owning family but when my daughter saw an exotic car magazine at the grocery store we bought it. Since then we've become a 2 car magazine owning family.
That's not the same situation as having a parent who is philosophically against cars or against conspicuous consumption not owning any car magazines. If I were such a parent I might project openness by saying she could have any magazine she wants, but my beliefs would be a barrier between her and things that went against my beliefs. She would know wanting a magazine full of flashy cars felt somehow wrong.
The TV discussions aren't about whether or not TV is necessary in order to unschool. The discussions are about helping our children explore the world freely. They're about being our children's partner in their exploration rather than their director. They're about being aware of how our own beliefs can be a barrier to our children's free exploration. (We can give them that freedom but it takes a lot of awareness to hold strong beliefs while having a stronger belief our children have a right and need to explore and hold their own beliefs.)
My daughter Kat, 12, has been following the TV discussion and wanted people to know she has been writing since she was 7 or 8 and feels that without TV she wouldn't have the inspiration she does. She counted up the pages in her comics and other writings and they come to 879. (She says there are many more pages of writing and comics that she hasn't put into binders and those would probably bring it up over 1000 pages.) She says she's been inspired by Pokemon (the most), Gundam Wing, Monster Rancher, and Digimon. Her alter ego, Avn the cat, who has been with her since she was 3 or 4 was inspired by Disney's Peter and the Wolf.
There is a difference between books and t.v. I was obsessed with books as a child, they prompted me to use my imagination and I became engrossed because I was using it and my images were much better than what could be on any t.v.
Then you're probably high in verbal intelligence! Have you read about Howard Gardner's Multiple Intelligences. It's really interesting stuff. And helpful too! Different learners need different input. Keeping someone with kinesthetic intelligence from being able to do physical things would be as limiting to their learning as keeping someone with verbal intelligence from books.
I love to read too. I also love TV. The images that work best for me as an artist, though, are visual. I get inspired by pictures. I understand better when I can see something. So, for me, something that's written isn't nearly as stimulating of my imagination as seeing someone else's images and building and expanding from there.
They say in order to write you need to read a lot. It naturally follows that to create visual images someone needs to see a lot. Other artists' visuals are fodder for artists just as other writers' words are fodder for writers.
I don't really think that you can compare the two. You can mindlessly watch t.v., you can't mindlessly read a book.
The why is usually more important than the what.
Yes, some people watch TV for relaxation. But if someone is mindlessly doing anything, is it the "anything" that's the problem or the fact that the other options that person has available aren't as stimulating as something mindless?
I watched TV after school as a child to wind down. It was relaxing for me. I wouldn't say mindlessly but I watched a lot of shows that were, uh, lacking in depth ;-) like Brady Bunch. (Though I sought out other things like Nova and Shakespeare plays too since I had free access to the TV.)
My daughter could watch mindlessly but without the need to use TV as a solution to boredom or tension or lack of stimulation or whatever people use TV for, she can use it as another resource like books or trips to the museum.
It's not that people don't watch TV mindlessly, it's that the mindless watching is caused by something else. Or a lack of something. Not because TV is a drug that affects anyone.
I don't want the t.v. on. He insists on having it on.
It's important to him. If you wanted the radio on while you cleaned and your husband didn't like it on, would it help you, him and your relationship if he turned it off, or distracted you with other tasks so he could turn it off?
I'd let it be.
Rather than focusing on ways to get him to do what you want him to do, focus on making sure he has opportunities that appeal to him to choose other things. He might still choose TV. It may be what he needs right now. It may be that he is a very visual learner. (So it would be like real objects to a child who learns best hands on.)
I have started making deals with him, I will let him watch a show that he really loves, then I tell him that they t.v. is off after that show.
And if your husband made "a deal" that he'd let you read one chapter of a great book but only if you shut the book when you were done with the chapter, how would that feel? (It's really a coerced agreement rather than a deal since the option is a bad choice (limited TV) or a worse choice (no TV.))
What your husband would be saying is that he doesn't respect your reading or your judgment of what you need. He thinks what you think is important is unimportant but he'll indulge you and let you do the trashy thing you like because he's such a nice guy. :-P
If we treat what kids love with contempt and disrespect, we model for them that it's okay for them to treat other people's feelings and preferences with contempt and disrespect. We also model that if we want our way it's good to be big and powerful so we can make other people obey us and do what we want.
I have tried telling him that too much t.v. will rot his brain, hey, it worked with candy.
Since he's already watched a lot of TV then from his point of view either his brain is rotted and he's ruined for life or you're lying or you are out of touch with reality.
To sum it up best, let me say it again. I love TV but I like my life better without it. It is addictive. I can't concentrate in a room with it on. We don't have a double standard for the kids. We all don't watch it.
Ah, but you aren't having someone else decide that you would feel better if your TV watching were limited to what they feel is the proper amount.
You are deciding you don't like how you feel after watching all day. You are deciding not to have the TV on for yourself.
I'm slightly lactose intolerant. If my daughter ends up the same way, I can offer suggestions that worked for me. Then she can pick and choose or reject entirely. That's very different from me deciding she needs less milk in her diet because I don't want her to suffer the same problems I do when I have too much milk.
The way we solved the TV issue in our house was not to get rid of the TV entirely (though that would get my vote) but to put it in the basement. There it is not as comfortable, not always in-your-face.
What if your husband was irritated at the sight of you reading books so decided the only place you could read was down in the basement?
What if he decided to limit the books you could read down in the basement to those he felt were worth your time?
Why would we treat kids in ways that we wouldn't want others to treat us?
It was a mutual ban, where we talked with him about how his behavior was being affected by TV and how maybe he should wait a while before trying those programs again and he agreed.
It's not a ban if a child decides not to watch something.
It's a good thing to help kids recognize what effect the world has on them and gain power over something that's having an adverse affect.
Banning something, e.g., taking control away from the child for the child's own good, does the opposite. It tells the child he isn't as powerful as the thing so someone must keep it away from him to protect him.
I can see your point about the specific definition of the word ban, and perhaps in our case boycott or abstaining would be a better choice.
Probably the most empowering way of phrasing it is "choosing not to watch" something. It gives power to the person rather than the thing.
Assuming that he feels he's in control and he could also choose to watch and his parents would be fine with that.
The focus needs to be on what problems he's having, not on imposing the solution to the problem the parents thinks exist.
Last updated: April 2009