So, the holidays are upon us, and the stress levels can’t get any higher. Between final exams, Christmas shopping, bill paying, school plays, and holiday parties, my youngest daughter has decided that this is the perfect time to have a complete meltdown that forces me to think; I wonder how much a ten-year-old is going for on EBay. However, since that is highly frowned upon by Department of Social Services, I opted for her to lose television and computer privileges for an entire week.
Her response to that was another meltdown followed by tears and pleading. I stood my ground. Since things were out of control, she needed to be wrangled in. I think this will be good for her. It will give her time to get back in touch with her inner self and reflect on her poor behavior and the toys [that are on the line] for which she has begged for this Christmas.
For me, it is absolute heaven.
It gave me the opportunity to finish up an eight-page final essay a week early, and get my housework done with no other noise than the radio station that plays Christmas songs around the clock.
After a couple of days with no television, I found that she was able to focus on her homework, study for tests, practice her violin, and amazingly enough, the struggle with nightly routines was diminished. Why, do you ask? Because there is no arguing about missing her favorite shows. We have Netflix, and she can watch them next week.
Completely loving this new quiet way of living, I wondered how other people fared with this experiment. Not everyone can handle an entire week without television. After going to my handy dandy internet search engine, I found a link to the Coronado, California Patch online newspaper that ran a story about the town going "Screen Free". Tonia Accetta was asked if she was going to have her family partake in the “Screen-Free Week”. Her response was, “The dates also coincide with the Easter break. It seems a bit mean to turn off TV when school is out. Plus we have to know who gets kicked off American Idol!” I can’t help but think; Heavens to Murgatroyd! God forbid Tonia is subjected to the daunting task of entertaining her children for the entire school break. Not to mention missing the next singer to get booted off American Idol. Anything but that!
Then there is a comment from Jan Spear on why there shouldn’t be a Screen-Free Week; “Screen-Free Week or National TV-Turnoff week impacts our escapism. Just a suggestion, how about limiting the amount of TV time per week, instead of totally tuning out? I wouldn't want to miss a Tsunami warning.”
Sarcasm wells up inside me.
Well, I can see how that’s justifiable, Jan. Tsunami warnings are so frequent in the United States these days we wouldn’t want to be caught off guard by a spontaneous Tsunami. Oh, and I can see how climbing into bed at night and escaping into a great book is completely out of the question.
Oy Vey, give me a break.
After being surprised and disappointed at the comments coming from highly educated adults on this subject, I decided to look elsewhere, hoping to find other information that I could use. I clicked on the next link to an article written by Charlene Lee, a fourteen-year-old girl from Los Angeles who challenged herself to an entire week of no television after she spent five hours straight watching the “Heroes” series.
What she discovered was surprising. After going through the withdrawal process, (aka the first couple of days with no television), she realized that she was able to be much more productive with her time. She found ways to fill her time with meaningful and important things like homework, studying for her SAT’s and submitting in her draft story for the LA Youth online newspaper early.
She began to not care about her favorite televisions shows and preferred to do something productive. However, by day five, she broke her own rules and went to the movies to catch the opening of Spiderman 3.
While sitting in the theater, she started thinking of other things she could be doing instead of wasting her time watching a movie. I find it pretty amazing for a fourteen-year-old to surmise how much television has impacted her life in a negative way just after five days.
Way to go Charlene!
I can only hope that after this weekend, my daughter will realize all the things she was able to do and that a week without television was not so bad after all.
Or at the very least will think twice before acting up.