TV Turnoff Week

My crazy son and husband

Welcome to TV Turnoff week: the week where you elect to turn off your TV for 7 days, and find other stuff – stuff that’s good for your brain – to do.

Ever since my son was born, I have found myself watching less and less TV; we are down to 1-1 1/2 hours a week now.  One large reason is him – my husband and I subscribe to the AAP research that says children under 2 should not watch TV.  We have been known to watch it while holding him faced away from the TV, but even that’s rare. We’re too busy doing other things – playing with fingers and toes, pulling the sheets on and off our heads, changing diapers, being SO BIG! and practicing petting Doggie Hurley and Kitty Taylor.  Now that the weather is getting nicer here, we will be out in the stroller, in the backyard, and may even move the bouncy chair near the garden so that Mom and Dad can dig in the dirt, and Jameson can observe. As you may be able to see from the impish look on my son’s face, he’s not a sedentary kid.  He needs to constantly be in motion – most pictures of him include some level of blur.  Even if we did put him in front of the TV, I can see that buying us 3 minutes – max.  He’d shortly be taking apart the remote and eating the batteries, and no one wants that.

It’s actually kind of nice not watching TV.  True, I can’t be part of office discussions or pools (American Idol comes to mind), and I don’t really have a grasp of current programming.  I get my news from NPR and the web, and that’s all I really need.  To be fair, though, I’m not the reason for TV Turnoff Week.  Kids are.

Although the website’s not really fancy, the folks behind TV Turnoff Week have a simple, but great idea going.  Turn off your TV for a full week.  Do something else with that time.  What’s the downside?  You learn new activities?  You spend face-to-face time?  You play a non-electronic (gasp!) board game?  YES.  DO IT. If you don’t like it, you can always turn the TV back on again after 7 days of trying.  The website even has a list of possible activities in which to partake, in case you are just sitting around awkwardly staring at the people in your house that you’ve avoided this long.

Another idea is turning off the phone and computer – truly a technology “sabbatical,” if you will, but that’s harder because of school, work and obtaining valued information (I’m thinking bank statements, weather reports, reading ChalkBlog…you get the picture).  I find myself taking weekends off of Facebook so I can remind myself that my life neither depends on nor is made truly more interesting seeing every little status update and cute picture. What an interesting lesson for kids, too – a great challenge.  It certainly teaches delayed gratification, if nothing else.

Who’s with me?  Are you gonna do it?  Are you gonna challenge your students to do it?
Dawn
dawn@learnersedgeinc.com

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147 Responses to TV Turnoff Week

  1. bevysthots says:

    We lived without t.v. for years … my son used to gain weight and be more unhappy when we had it … t.v. is one of the most frustrating things to do/watch. Have you ever read the book by Jerry Mander called 4 reasons for the Elimination of Television – he really researched it – it’s a great read if you need MORE reasons to not bother.

  2. Harold says:

    We don’t have air-wave TV, nor cable since 1999. Only videos get watched and we control that.

  3. Miki says:

    good idea.but if ture off couputer 1 week.who can bear life? : )

  4. Well, we haven’t had a tv since things went digital (& only had one channel before that).
    No iPhone/smart phone either.
    But, I’ll agree with Miki above; without my computer, how could I bear it? ( besides, if I turned off my computer, how could I read your blog??) 🙂

    • curly says:

      We used to have a tv. That went out. Never missed. I had a smartphone that broke. Not missed. Computers? I reckon if we did have to live without them we’d surprise ourselves at how well we actually manage.

    • I don’t know! I have an easy time separating “work” computer time with “home” computer time…I couldn’t be without my computer at work. I think we would all be alive to tell about it in the end, but technology is only getting more pervasive.
      Thanks for reading!

  5. Kate McClare says:

    I wish I had limited TV more with my kids when they were little. One of my fondest memories is when they were about 7 and 9 and we had just moved, so we had to wait a few days for cable. One evening we got home and just lay on my bed for about 20 minutes before dinner, talking about nothing in particular. Also happy is a memory of coming home from the beach and playing the card game War for a couple of hours instead of automatically turning on the TV,

    TV is such a time-sucker. I get so much more done when I don’t watch. Can’t really even sort laundry!

  6. Sandy Sue says:

    Turning off the TV is not only good for kids, but for the rest of us who exercise by pointing the remote. All the health gurus agree that TV makes us fat and weak, so spending a week actually *doing* instead of *watching* can only be a good thing.

  7. Cat Sampson says:

    So cute. TV is simply not as enjoyable as reading, however.

    -Cat

  8. I got rid of my TV when I returned to live in the UK after a year living in Madagascar. I found it too intrusive and distracting. That was over 18 months ago now. I can still watch the ‘must-see’ TV series (like Mad Men) on my computer on a DVD and I watch the occasional programme streamed on the internet, but overall, my consumption has dropped massively. having no TV means that I don’t just ‘switch it on’ to pass the time, and I relish not being bombarded by commercials/advertisements of things that I don’t want to buy, or end up vegging in front of programmes that end up making me annoyed (reality tv). My life has improved immeasurably by getting rid of the TV. Now if I can only give up Angry Birds…

  9. saltybi11 says:

    TV Pretty much sux these days anyway…

  10. I live without a TV and I never even notice it. I love the challenge it provides to my visitors, too.
    I work in an orphanage and I have the children come to my house on occasion, just to give them something different to do. We have a pretty crappy TV that has a few channels, but they will sit in front of it and watch soap operas, just because it’s TV. The first time they came over, all of them were anticipating a nice, big TV with 3000 channels they could glue themselves in front of. When they were met with a piano, they said, “Where is the TV?” I said, “I don’t have one.” There was a moment of silence, and then everyone went to the piano to play. They looked through my biology books and asked questions. They invented games. They talked to me. They learned how to cook.

    It’s SO worth it to not have a TV in the home. I like that they have learned that there is entertainment beyond technology (and also that not all white people have big TVs, as the rumour is).

  11. Well, we haven’t had a tv since things went digital (& only had one channel before that).
    No iPhone/smart phone either.
    But, I’ll agree with Miki above; without my computer, how could I bear it? ( besides, if I turned off my computer, how could I read your blog??) 🙂

  12. newfrankyj says:

    I didn’t watch TV for two years. It’s SO true that coworkers, and other friends, will look at you sideways when you say, “Nope. I have no idea what you’re talking about. I don’t watch TV.” I’m still finding movies that I have never heard of from that time because I didn’t catch the trailers as commercials.
    This was also a time I didn’t struggle with my weight… the only time in my whole life. Apparently it’s time to turn the TV back off! Thanks for the reminder. I’m moving in one or two weeks. I’ll be sure to not get it turned on too quick. Congrats on being Freshly Pressed.

  13. ken in Atlanta says:

    I’m 47 and it has been over 20 years without a TV. I divorced and raised my son alone for 14 years, using a monitor for occasional VHS or DVD’s.

    I find that real Internet research (Not Facebook or gaming) seems to increase your capacity for absorbing knowledge faster and faster. Reading books and newspapers from around the world rewires your brain for actual thinking! I’m learning Spanish and Russian while growing my business, studying gardening (I suck) and learning histories I’d never heard of. I can’t even listen to music as I used to because I enjoy thinking so much. Besides rich conversation is better than Mork and Mindy…if that’s still on.
    TV is sweet poison that strips us of our greatest gift-Our ability to think.
    -Ken

  14. My life has improved immeasurably without a TV. When there is a TV around I always find it intrusive because I can’t help noticing it. A few times a year I also go into digital detox mode – no phone, computer or mp3 player. It’s quite tough at first but at the end of this I notice that my perception has changed and my thinking is clearer without all the mental clutter. My imagination is more vivid and I become more creative as a result 🙂

  15. richannkur says:

    It is very true…. life looks more interesting in this way.

  16. whatsaysyou says:

    Sounds like a great idea. TV turnoff week give people the chance to not only try stay away from the television for a week but also discover new hobbies and take up other activities where they spend quality time with friends, family and neighbours.

  17. Katie Gou says:

    What a great idea! I actually barely watch TV but I know people who are glued to it. I’m travelling to Africa shortly so I will be having a necessary tech sabbatical. Let’s see how I cope! Is it wrong that I find life without a phone enticing?!

  18. I don’t own a TV and haven’t for 4 years, have no plans on doing so either. If I need to catch up on news, I look on the internet. I don’t miss it, I used to be addidcted to it, now I write instead, much nicer and fun 🙂

  19. kylometers says:

    Your post reads exactly like a day-in-the-life of our family. When our son was born, my wife and I still had a regular routine of watching TV while eating dinner and then into the evenings before bed. Like yourself, we followed the AAP advice and intentionally faced him away from the television. As he became more and more active, we found ourselves watching less and less TV; not by design, but just as a function of less and less free time. Finally, this past winter when our daughter was born, we decided to do away with cable altogether as it seemed a tremendous waste of money given that our kids keep us entirely too busy to even think about sitting and watching TV. We also found the shows we did try to watch or record were all on the major networks anyway. So I rigged up an antenna in the attic and created a home DVR out of our computer. The funny thing is, we barely find the time to watch the 4 shows we do record every week, so I’ve got a hard drive full of programs we end up deleting rather than watching. I have to say, I don’t miss it a bit. It seems like we turned the TV on every night because it was there and we’d always done it. Once we broke out of that cycle, I’ve found my evenings to be a great time to read, write, or do other things around the house. It’s definitely been a welcome side effect of having kids!

    • Isn’t that true, kylo? I would have never guessed it. We like watching two shows, and when we think of it, we will catch up with them online. But when we don’t—so what? I’ve wanted for years to be more active- and now, that’s the center of our philosophy.
      Thanks for reading!

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  21. I remember life before television–when we used to live in Mexico and then moved to the states. It was three years after that move that my parents bought a TV.
    Along other lines, I have recently asked friends, “Could you go a year without shopping for clothes, shoes, accessories?” I vow to spend less time thinking about my dream closet and be happy with what’s in it without filling it any more.

  22. Sakti says:

    Any digital device like TV has made us selfish where we all enjoy ourselves. We all may sit together and watch a show but we enjoy separately. I would like to implement this at home. I have two kids one is 4 and the other one is 2. They love watching Cartoons as any other kid does. Although me and my wife know it is not good to watch TV but sometime we can’t avoid turning on the TV. My does does not eat properly when he is attentive. We have to turn on TV so that my wife can feed him. Sometimes when my wife is busy doing household work my kids disturb her and then we turn on TV to get them occupied and we can do our work. But all these are bad I agree. Have to find ways.

    • Sakti, it’s certainly not easy, and who knows what will happen when my son is old enough to protest? For now, I think it’s working…fingers crossed for continued success!
      Thanks for reading!

  23. beckyspringer says:

    I love this idea! Like you though, I find that with a young child (my daughter is two) it’s hard to watch tv anyway! We don’t have computers in our house anymore, but we do have internet on our cell phones… Now THAT will be a hard habit to break!

    • becky, I find that I have to remind myself to put the phone down when I am around my son and focus just on him. It’s been a great exercise in being “in the moment,” for sure – not easy for a person whose brain is always racing.
      Thanks for the comment!

  24. justdc says:

    that’s a great idea, I don’t watch tv that often so I won’t miss it but my computer unfortunately I can’t do without. I am a journalist after all I need it to know what’s going in my country and other parts of the world.

    • Of course, justdc – the computer is something with which you earn your livelihood. I think it’s important to note what you do on your computer, though…I tend to surf a lot more than I should when I should be working.
      Thanks for the comment!

  25. pinoyleonardo says:

    Turning off TV is easy for us as we do not really watch too much. Recently, we added Cartoon package in our cable so that our 2-year old daughter could get into kid stuff. We realized she was fascinated watching on IPhone those youtube videos of nursery rhymes and thought she was missing those and the cartoons on TV. Besides, she was starting to get hooked on the IPhone and we did not want that. We can see how absorbed she gets when watching videos on the IPhone or experiment taking pictures. She just could not be disturbed. (Yes, she actually knows how to use her fingers to operate the touchscreen.)I don’t want her to get used to that.

    I must say that, it’s not only TV we shouold be concerned about but other media as well. In fact, for us, it seemed like TV was the “alternative”- only because we’re not as hooked on it.

    • Exactly, pinoyleonardo…I think we should be aware of any kind of media. After all, media’s goal is to bombard us in order to influence us, right?
      And my son gets pretty mesmerized by the iPhone too. Sheesh. DAMN YOU, APPLE!
      Thanks for the comment!

  26. thor27 says:

    I read freshly pressed almost daily
    Check out my blog sometime.
    “Whatcha need Got you covered in Northwest Houston,Tx.”

  27. We used to have a tv. That went out. Never missed. I had a smartphone that broke. Not missed. Computers? I reckon if we did have to live without them we’d surprise ourselves at how well we actually manage.

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  29. My life has improved immeasurably without a TV. When there is a TV around I always find it intrusive because I can’t help noticing it. A few times a year I also go into digital detox mode – no phone, computer or mp3 player. It’s quite tough at first but at the end of this I notice that my perception has changed and my thinking is clearer without all the mental clutter. My imagination is more vivid and I become more creative as a result 🙂

  30. billiejowood says:

    I have experienced the exact same thing. I forget to turn on the TV when before it was the first thing I did when I went into the living room. Now it seems that it is only on as background noise while I do homework. Even this is when baby is sleeping.

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  32. Contrary to what most people think, I don’t LIVE on Facebook, I just go one maybe once or twice in a week. But I could most definitely NOT live without my computer. I can’t imagine not having internet access for a day. That would be SCARY.
    I have, however, proudly lived without any gadget in the world when I went trekking for 10 days in the Smoky Mountains. The first time I have truly been isolated without any technology forever. It was actually kind of fun.
    Congratulations on being Freshly Pressed!
    Ashley, aka TheEverydayMuser

  33. Sometimes I feel that watching the box for a long time make a slag mind that I get into reading books. I have seen that the interest I show in reading will be more that watching the TV. In a week, I have done it for several days. Good for TV to run longer and therby reading will enrich knowledge…lol

  34. halfwayto50 says:

    I feel I need to stand up for the poor TV. It gets such a bad rap! I LOVE TV and in moderation, it’s fine. My parents didn’t sprint to the TV when I entered the room at the age of 2 to avoid causing me extreme turmoil. If I had Real Housewives taken away from me, I’d be sad. There’s nothing like a little humor to wrap up an otherwise not so great day. I have great relationships with my friends and family, a great career, live an active and healthy lifestyle, and have just wrapped up my Master’s degree program. Seems the TV that I love so much hasn’t affected me the way science says it should have. Rise up people! Stand up for our beloved TV’s and all that they offer!!

    • Hey halfway- I watch TV too. I don’t think TV is bad, and I don’t go running into the room if my son happens to be there (and I really don’t think I described “extreme turmoil” for him should he watch it). I just don’t think that TV is the end-all, be-all. After all, you are living proof that its possible to have a well-rounded and active life AND participate in TV watching. It’s not such a bad idea to be involved in a variety of things that help folks expand their minds, as you described in your own life. Turning off the TV doesn’t mean that TV is bad, it just means that you know how to moderate.
      Thanks for your comment.

  35. I don’t know! I have an easy time separating “work” computer time with “home” computer time…I couldn’t be without my computer at work. I think we would all be alive to tell about it in the end, but technology is only getting more pervasive.
    Thanks for reading!

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