Friday, August 7, 2009


When we spent a year in Korea, some of you know we coined it our "year without TV." This didn't start out as an intentional decision. Our TV is not so very new, and we were allowed a small weight limit for our move (we were unaccompanied for you military folks). We decided our TV wasn't worth it's weight in entertainment, and we figured we would upgrade to a flat screen while we were closer to the land where all things electronic are born. Patrick got to Korea a few weeks before Adeline and I arrived to find us an apartment, buy a car, and receive our shipment of goods. He didn't have a TV during those weeks, so he downloaded episodes of LOST and an occasional movie. When we arrived, I was busy setting up our home. After a few weeks, we realized we didn't really miss our TV all that much. I started blogging, and that gave me a whole new outlet for any spare time....can I get an amen?!? I caught up on LOST during the weeks that Patrick worked nights. We downloaded movies or episodes of LOST and The Office (to watch when WE wanted to watch them).

I've been asked to post about this experience and write about what our family is currently doing as far as TV usage. I must say, I REALLY thought I would miss TV more than I did. When it wasn't an option to turn it on, I eventually stopped thinking about it. I should mention that we were never huge TV watchers, but I went through seasons where I would turn it on most evenings (when Patrick was studying every night or working crazy long hours during residency). I think in general we watched less TV than the average family, but those hours still add up! I found I was much more efficient without the distraction of the TV. Even when I thought I only turned it on for background noise, it really did take me longer to get things done. In that year, I read more than ever before, started blogging, and made some serious scrapbooking progress. Patrick and I spent more time playing games and talking. I also found that I was less tired.

Now we are home. We have been reunited with our not so very new TV. We decided we didn't want to pay for cable. Patrick bought some special disc thing (um...yeah, he's the techy one here) so we can get several channels through our computer. We almost never watch it. When we do, it is to watch something specific. We don't turn it on just to "see what's on." That being said, Adeline starts out most mornings watching a movie. Donut Man, Cedermont Kids, and the occasional Veggie Tales. She has learned songs and stories about Jesus from these movies. They give me a few minutes to check my email, read blogs, or take a shower. She likes it. I like it. It works. If I may share one more opinion, I think we do our kids a serious disservice by having a screen in front of them in the car (if the journey is less than, say, two hours). It is not healthy to have constant over stimulation, while using little to no imagination. Now, what do you think? How much time do you spend watching TV? How about your kids? Is TV time the same as time on the Wii or playing video games? What about computer time (ouch, now we're getting personal!)? Take my survey on the sidebar. I won't know who says what (in case you are a closet TV addict).


Mari said...

I'm not a big tv watcher. I have my favorites - like Lost, but my addiction is the computer. :(

Anonymous said...

When my kids were little we didn't have videos in cars and we were really strick with television. Two of our girls hate TV today. One married a guy that loves TV and she watches with him.

Dave and I are hooked on TV way more than we should be. Finding a good book will turn the TV off in a heartbeat, but my husband loves the history channel and FOX network.

I don't know how I would handle things with kids today. I'm thankful that we only had a few channels back in the day and it was easy to pop in those same kinds of videos you choose for your daughter. I really believe it paid off for our kids. (Although I have heard a story or two about how the snuck to the neighbors to watch a few things that were off limits at our house...those naughty little girls, hehe)

John and Amanda said...

We aren't huge TV watchers either... We typically only have it on at night during our "relax and eat a bowl of ice cream" time. :D We have one show we watch each night (about an hour, like American Idol, or The Office, etc). I could live without the tv, but take away my computer and I'm in trouble...although I have gotten MUCH better about limiting my computer time since returning from Korea (maybe it was the lack of TV that made it so addicting, I was never a check my email everday kind of girl before Korea, now I check multiple times and no one writes me, lol)....

When we move to our new house I'm planning to put the computer in the office, instead of in the kitchen where it's been the last few years... I think that alone will help to limit my 'screen' time. :)

:) Oh, and I agree about the car DVDs.... we only use ours on road trips... it's a built in one so it's tempting to cheat, but we've only broken our rule a few times, and usually for "good" reasons... (long drive home, melting toddler type issues).

Jen said...

We rarely watch TV, though we have become "Food Network" junkies lately, so we follow a few of those shows (typically 1-2 hours a night about three times a week). I spend more of my time on the computer, which is why I am resisting the urge to join Facebook! :)

For the kids, they get one hour a day of TV time, usually split into 2 or 3 sessions, which is helpful when getting breakfast or preparing dinner.

We have a portable DVD player that we got free, so we only bring it along on trips that are longer than 1 1/2 - 2 hours - that's a definite advantage of a portable DVD player compared to a built-in one.

Thanks for sharing your insight - it's always neat to see what others think!

joana ahn said...

hey lynn, i've found since i have ava i watch a lot less tv too. i like to have it on in the evenings to catch up on my recorded shows or just to relax, but then i also spend time on the net, so it's one or the other. i don't like ava to watch it and i'm with you about having tv on in the car all the time. though for long trips it can sure be a life saver i imagine (not for a small baby, but older). i know i like to watch it when i'm flying long flights for instance. i think as ava gets older i'll let her watch shows like veggie tales or blue's clues but not all the time. we'll probably have it once a day or something. i'm not a fan of the tv on all day as background noise. i find it tiresome and overstimulating. anyway, that's what i think. thanks for sharing.

Mrs. Fix said...

This was a really neat post. Our TV story is kinda similar to yours. Our entire marriage was TV free until we moved to this house and now (like you) we get a few channels through our computer. We record LOST and the Biggest Loser (also through the computer and like you I have no clue how it works) when they are on and watch them at our convenience. Otherwise the TV is off. Rock doesn't watch any TV at our house. I agree that TV is a huge time-suck and I'm glad it's not a bigger part of our lives. :)

Kristen said...

I sometimes use TV as background noise when I am scrapbooking or sewing but can get distracted by it. I usually watch TV when I am exercising (its what gets me through my workouts) and sometimes at night after the kids go to bed. I am usually too tired by then to do anything else :o) During the day the TV is off unless we are watching something school related or I have a sick kid. I have loosened up about the TV with kids - we have gone from no TV for them to a show or movie every day or two. Especially since Landon isn't napping but needs the quiet time. It makes a world of difference in his attitude.

As far as the car goes, we have a portable player that we bought when we moved here and there is a built in in the car but they rarely get used. When I drove by myself with the kids to CA in May - 12 hours in the car and they never asked for a movie even though they were in the car. Granted they had their Leapster/DS along but they didn't even use them that much. We listened to a lot of Adventures in Odyssey CD which the kids LOVE!

Andrea @ The Train to Crazy said...

We love to watch TV. There are a lot of shows we really like but we don't have cable and I don't like to sit through a whole movie so we don't watch a whole lot. We have noticed that our computer time just fills in the gap where the TV left off though so we aren't really making that many positive strides. I think the computer can be more of a time suck than the TV!

jj said...

I love watching TV. I don't love the computer so much b/c I don't like being in my office but of course it's always on b/c that's how I communicate with just about everone, even the husband.

A lot of people say they don't watch TV, but I don't believe them. I can tell from conversations at church, book club, wherever... that everyone knows everything about every show.

We usually record (with a DVR) stupid sitcoms (The Office, King of Queens, King of the Hill, etc.) to watch. We are so out of touch with current shows. I love American Idol and could get hooked on every reality show there is, but Lee doesn't like them, and we are always together when we watch.

TV is a great way for me to relax. It's my reward at the end of the day when the kids are in bed.

Emma gets one show (Calliou, usually) in the morning and Es and Al take turns choosing one half hour show in the afternoon while Emma naps. (So one day Esther chooses; the next day Alex chooses.)

I am absolutely opposed to TV in the car. I think looking out the window and being bored is so healthy. We drive to Indiana (12 hours) two or three times a year with no TV.

Gee, I sure had a lot to say on the topic! Thanks for the interesting conversation.

Short Stop said...

Very, very interesting.

We aren't TV watchers at all, as you know. I've never been one, and Jason only really watches sports - which I happen to love as well. We hardly ever turn it on.

I think we talked about Leapsters when we were there? BEST TOY EVER, and I don't consider it "computer/tv time". Both boys have learned so much, but even with those, they only play about 1/2 hour a day. And, on long car trips. (I agree with you on the movies. We don't let them watch them unless we're going on a long trip.)

Computer time? I'm constantly evaluating that. Jason has agreed to keep me accountable when he's home, and I feel like over the last two years since I've been blogging, I've found a healthy balance. It can get tipped to "too much" from time to time, at which point I usually back off a bit, reevaluate, then start up again with a healthier outlook.

I have found, as with anything, that taking these things to God, asking for His guidance, and trusting Him to lead my heart is where I find the best sense of "balance", if you will. I want to be current, I want to stay on top of technology for the sake of my kids', but I also want to use my time in the most effective ways I can.

Whew, girl. You got me thinkin' on this one. LOVE it!