Our Parent Experiment: The TV is “Broken.”

Kids watching TVSo what did kids do with themselves before TV? Seriously, how in the world did they entertain themselves without driving their parents nuts! How did mom ever get the cooking done? Oh how I’d love to hop into a time machine to see how parents managed their world before TV was invented!

Our son Matthew has been really struggling with some behavioral issues lately. These issues were more exacerbated by power struggles related to the TV.  I can’t even count how many times I used the TV to entertain our daughter Katherine and her brother Matthew so I could get something done.  Cooking seemed impossible without the TV on and doing chores around the house, taking a shower or doing my lesson planning for work was impossible without the technological babysitter that spits out mindless Phineas and Ferb entertainment for hours . When it was time to eat dinner or go to bed, they just could not part with it! When they finally did part with it, guess what they were asking for? That’s right, the phone, my computer or the iPad. Ugh!! My kids were becoming addicted to technology. It was obvious. And when the television was finally turned off after watching their favorite shows, the power struggles got nasty….screaming, crying, throwing toys, hitting, you name it. It was time to take extreme measures…turn the TV off and pretend it was “broken.”

It’s Like Magic!

We turned the TV off and the kids went through withdrawal. It was a painful mess of whining and complaining for a while. But after a couple days with no TV and very limited iPad/cell phone watching, something magical started happening. The kids started to invent games, play with their legos,  play pretend stories for hours, practice the piano (a little bit more), and color or do crafts at the table. Katherine even picked up a book and read it to Matthew and their nanny. So that’s what they did back in the day!

It was a little more tiring for us parents at first. We had to keep track of where our kids were in the house and what they were up to. After a while though, they began to play together for longer periods of time in very creative ways. I also noticed the arguments between them were less frequent and they were just plain playing nicely with each other. It was like magic!

Now let’s examine why this positive change occurred (from my perspective): Think about it. When they are watching TV, what skills are they not practicing that need to be constantly practiced?: They’re not practicing social skills, fine and gross motor skills, critical thinking skills, reasoning, creativity and they’re not physically moving much. They are missing so much of what kids should be doing!

So to make a long story short, Matthew’s behavior improved quite a bit after the TV was turned off. He got into legos and started coloring a little again. He had not colored in months because he was in front of the TV so much. After observing all this with my own children, I would strongly encourage parents to consider turning just turning off their TVs and pretend that they are “broken,” even if it’s a short while. It will make all the difference in the world. Like magic!


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