It’s almost unheard of in today’s society for kids to not have any exposure to television right? Sad truth! This sounds downright crazy to some people…. I can hear the jeers, “What nonsense are you talking woman??” 😂
Actually, having a no tv childhood is a good thing! Studies have shown the significant difference in behavior & academic ability in children who have little, to no TV exposure.
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I decided to conduct this experiment because my unruly 6 year old was wearing me down!! Everything was a battle. Always shouting, I’m sure the neighbours think I’m stark raving mad!
Something had to give! Upon reading an article (I stopped watching tv & this is what happened) I had an epiphany! I really enjoyed reading it & was impressed at just what can be achieved by eliminating something as tiny as TV from your life. It was a real eye opener & my husband literally watches no tv, so he has always disapproved of my daughter’s tv consumption.
Did you know children spend an average of 4-8 hours in front of a screen per day! & less than 1 hour outside? Too much screen time can cause sleep problems, higher risk for attention disorders, higher risk for obesity and change the chemistry of your child’s brain! This is a scary thought! Yes, we can get stuff done while they’re in-front of the tv, but they deserve to be doing some activities, or outside exploring, getting dirty. Not watching someone on tv doing those exact things!
So began the no “zombie” zone in my house. I decided to start with weekdays, I didn’t want to go all military mum & completely eliminate any tv from her life, because I feel it’s harsh so I chose Sun-Thurs (Sunday is the 1st day if the week in the UAE) leaving the weekend to watch a maximum of 4 hours of tv. When I was a kid, kids tv only ever came on after school for a bit, or Saturday mornings (my favourites) nowadays there’s a multitude of tv channels dedicated to non stop viewing for kids. This is a problem, kids need balance, not to be exposed to something as much as they like, for as long as they like! It’s proven that too much exposure to TV has an effect on behavior, learning & social interaction.
Nobody Said It Would Be Easy!
As with anything, the first hurdle is always the hardest! If you’re going to try this experiment, you must make a plan & stick to it!
Have a back up of resources to keep them busy & take their mind off not having the tv on! (background TV is equally as bad as it’s a distraction from everything)
Prepare for the worst – Tantrums, hissy fits, lashing out, bad words… whatever they’ve got, they’ll give it!!
Don’t give in not even in the slightest!! My mum used to say, you’ve got to be cruel, to be kind sometimes.
Establish routine kids need stability, so while they notice the “gap” in their day that the tv once used to fill, make that time specific for other things.
Week 1 –
I had already sat my daughter down & explained that her behavior isn’t the best & as a result there would be no more TV! She obviously didn’t believe me, as I always give in. Not this time!
The week began – after school, she usually comes home, out of the heat & just wants to flop on couch & watch t.v…. I like her to wash up, change out of school uniform & eat something, but this becomes a daily battle, because shes already flown into the living room & grabbed the remote – no going back now!! I used to let her cool off & have the t.v. This is ok for 30 mins or so, but when it comes to getting her to change out of uniform & doing something else, it becomes WW3! So first thing was to eliminate the initial tv watching when she got home. Remotes were hidden, tv was off, set top box was also off! I braced myself for what was to come – “mummy, where’s the remote?” I told myself – Play dumb, just play dumb!
So began the whining 🙄 not just whining, nagging, constantly asking for t.v….. “I honestly don’t know where it is!” I entertained her idea to look for it, with no luck. The 1st day was truly the beginning of a few battles, but I’m usually a fly off the handle mum (bad thing I know) but I was trying my utmost best to not shout, not to react in a big way, we were graced with hissy fits, bouts of “you’re so mean!” Crying, screaming, things being thrown – whatever she had, she gave it to us good!
As the days went on, I noticed more peace in the house, no bickering between the kids over watching & no more of me having to yell at my eldest becaude he wants to watch innapropriate teen dramas while she is around! – bliss!
Week 2 –
This week saw the beginning of change around the house! She no longer asks for t.v. when she comes home. Remotes are still hidden away, but she comes home & although she still is a little defiant, it’s much easier to get her to wash her hands & change into her pj’s.
She’s more enthusiastic to do other things, the toy room she neglected is being used again! She is doing more crafts, much more games & puzzles & she even set up a reading corner for her & her dolls!!! 😳 This is amazing, as she really dislikes reading – major improvements!!
I wanted to see how she is when others are watching tv. So we tried a few times having the radio on in the background, this was ok, when she asked to change the tv, I simply told her tv isn’t working only radio can be played. We also tried while watching animal planet. That didn’t go down too well, we had her patting down our pockets & searching us like a police officer for the remotes, funny at the time, but I decided to go back to zero t.v. to eliminate any fuss!
Amazing progress!! We can actually have the t.v. on, without her wanting to watch!! (Bearing in mind it’s not kids t.v.) Also, during the weekend, she actually walked away from watching t.v. to play!! This may seem normal to others, but a big improvement on her part! Her yearning for the t.v. looks to be a thing of the past, so far so good!
The behavior has changed dramatically for the better! She is less aggressive, listens more & is arguing less with her brother. She is more interactive with those around her, wants to play & is more interested in arts & craft activities (before I’d need to drag her away from the tv to join in) I really don’t know why I let things escalate as much as I did, I feel I failed as a parent allowing my child to be exposed to tv as much as she was! But we live & learn!
Realising the differences
As I sat back & observed my daughter’s behaviour while watching t.v. on the weekend I saw the same pattern repeating it’s self – rude, aggressive, downright naughty! I feel as if I’m at the end of my tether with her behaviour & I can safely say, though I’m not trying to pass the buck as a parent, t.v. is definitely a factor! So I think I will take this experiment a step further & not allow t.v. unless it’s family t.v. (all of us watching a show/movie together) as she becomes recluse, distant & just does not want to interact with anyone when tv is on.
I can safely say this experiment has really opened my eyes, I’ve always known how indoctrinating t.v. can be, but never did anything about it & continued to let my child be exposed to it, big fail on my part! So now I’m looking at a brighter future with less t.v. & more fun & games!
Have you conducted a similar experiment? Would you brave the challenge? Let me know in the comments below and don’t forget to share!!