Stop Watching TV

Have you decided to stop watching TV entirely? You might enjoy reading Katherine's story below.

"How I Decided to Trash my TV"

My journey to trashing my television set began on September 11, 2001. That day my boyfriend decided to put me, then pregnant, our one-year-old son, and my daughter out onto the street. We were homeless. It was an ordeal to be certain. We moved precariously among four different shelters, all located in various crime-infested areas of Denver. However, something strange happened with the children. They began to behave better. It took about a year to isolate the cause to the absence of television. It took another year to decide to get rid of the TV. It has been a strange journey to say the least.

I did not originally associate the children’s improved behavior with a lack of television. At first I assumed it was just the stress of the situation that somehow brought us together as a family. When we settled down again after a couple of months, we got our TV back. Their behavior deteriorated again. I began to question. What was the cause of this? Could the TV really be responsible for their increased bickering and obstinance.

I began monitoring their behavior very carefully regarding their behavior when the TV was on versus their behavior when the TV was off. I noticed that their behavior declined even when they were watching quality programming, like Barney or the Teletubbies. I was surprised by that. I had assumed that quality programming was okay, if not beneficial, for children. I found that no matter what show was playing, the children quickly assumed a zombie-like state and it was difficult to get them away from the set. They seemed addicted to it. I began to notice that I was too.

I began to use it very frequently for punishment. “No TV tomorrow!” “No TV for three days!” “No TV for a week!” This gave me greater opportunity to examine their behavior without TV, and I became certain that TV was having a negative effect, even though I was not sure why.

I began trying different methods of limiting TV. I cut the cable. That helped for a while, but the kids and I quickly became addicted to the shows that were available. The kids had a supply of movies that they would watch over and over if nothing else was on TV. I began to wonder what was wrong with us that we could not seem to control our viewing. Finally, I decided that we were not going to be able to control our viewing without totally getting rid of the TV.

In October 2003 I told the kids that the TV was gone. Actually, I had hid it in the closet-- just in case. I wanted to be absolutely sure that this was what we needed to do. It was. Their behavior was very good, especially considering some of the difficulties we had faced. Finally, right before Christmas, I decided to give the set away to a neighbor. I have not looked back since.

My children now read more, play outside more, socialize more, and are generally happier. They have adjusted to the point that they do not really miss it. They have too much else to do. I have no doubts that these beneficial effects will continue and will reverberate throughout their entire lives.

Katherine Westphal is the founder of a daring new website TrashYourTV.com, that makes it fun and easy for people to get control of their TV set. Are you addicted to TV? Take our TV Addiction Quiz and find out!

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