July 31, 2010

Kicking the Boob Toob to the Curb

I have to admit that I write this post with a certain degree of sadness. After talking it over with my husband, we have decided to no longer watch television. I'm sure some of you are thinking, "WHAT!?! Are you crazy?." And maybe to a certain degree we are. Merriam-Webster defines crazy as "unusual or out of the ordinary," and in that sense, I suppose we are a little bit crazy.

It's not a decision we came to overnight. We've talked about what standards we wanted to have as a family when it came to our viewing habits. We decided we wanted to be careful about what we allowed to influence the way we think, act, or behave. Think about it, if some stranger came into your house and started swearing at your children, would you invite them to come back over the next day? Probably not. If someone came over to your house and started making out in front of your spouse, would you feel comfortable?

Now, I'm not some crazy prude. I like TV. To be honest, I like it a lot. I just wish there were more family-friendly shows worth watching. Even if the shows themselves are decent, sometimes the advertising in between the shows is not so kosher. Some of my favorite shows include "The Office" and "Community" but if I'm honest with myself, sometimes the content, even though it's hilarious, is not entirely appropriate for me to watch as a woman who claims to have a relationship with Jesus Christ. I definitely wouldn't feel comfortable watching episodes at my church or with my ladies Bible study group. I suppose my personal conviction is that if I couldn't in good conscience show it at church, then I probably don't need to make a habit of watching it at home. I set the example for my child. If I want him to take faith seriously, he needs to see consistency in my standards both at home and at church.

I guess the biggest thing we discussed as a family is that the worldview, attitudes, and philosophies subtly communicated in much of the media, have a way of working their way into the way we view life. We don't want our son growing up thinking that certain behaviors are acceptable simply because that's what they are fed by characters on television. I'm not saying that people can't watch with discernment, as adults we certainly can and should. But for children, the message is sneaky. No one says "You should be disrespectful to your parents and authority," but create a show where the parents are portrayed as idiots and going behind a teacher's back is glamorous, and the message is communicated just as clearly.

I'm not saying all TV is evil. I'm not saying that in order to be a good Christian you need to toss out your TV. I'm just sharing the personal convictions of my family at this point in our lives. Philippians 4:8 says "Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things." I think you could substitute "watch" for the word "think" in that verse, because what we watch has the power to influence what we think about. If a program meets those qualifications, I don't have a problem in the world with watching it. My family just doesn't see the sense in devoting so much of our time/budget when there are so few programs that meet that criteria. So, as of 8/29, our cable service will be discontinued.

Cons of Giving up TV
  • No more "vegging" out on the couch. (Which face it, after a whole day of watching a kid, is a nice respite)
  • I may not be able to gab about the latest TV scandal, or share inside jokes about certain programs.
  • My house is going to be REALLY quiet during the day when I'm home by myself. I usually have the television on all day long simply to have some background noise and to help break up the monotony of the day.
  • I do think I'll miss the whole entertainment factor, because face it - watching TV can be fun. 
Pros of Giving up TV
  • We'll save $840 a year. Over five years that adds  up to $4200. We can pay for a lot of fun family movies, games, and activities with that much money.
  • We'll read more.
  • We'll talk more.
  • I can still break up the silence of the day by listening to Christian radio.
  • I'll probably be more productive.
  • I'll be able to devote my full attention to my son.
  • I can listen to a bazillion and four different podcasts and actually LEARN something useful with my time.
  • I can still stay up-to-date on what's happening through the newspaper and internet.
  • I think if I fill my mind with positive, Christ-affirming content that my relationship with God will be encouraged to grow. 
  • I can still watch fun shows I enjoy like "The Cosby Show" by getting them on DVD. 
  • It'll be much easier to make this decision now before my son (who is one) is old enough to know what we're doing. I think it would be much harder to tell a ten-year-old that the TV is now gone. I don't want him vegging out in front of the TV. I want him to read, to play, and to be protected from negative influences until he's old enough to discern the truth from the lie.
I'm not saying that this decision is for everyone, or even that it's going to be easy; but to be honest, as much as I'm going to miss it, I do think it's for the best.  It's certainly going to take some time to adjust to. As it is right now, I turn on the television right after I wake up and I turn it off right before I go to bed. I think if I can make it through the withdrawals I'll be ok - in fact, I'm fairly confident I'll be the better for it.



  1. My fiance and I gave up television 6 months ago! and although I miss gossiping about tv scandals, and being in the know, It's quite refreshing! We pick up analog channels so we get fox and PB educational channels. And we pay for netflix 2 dvd's at a time for $14 a month so we get to select our shows. Not to mention we get to select our shows!

    p.s you should allow it so others can post :( I don't have any of those accounts


  2. Hi Crinthia, I wish I could change the comment box to allow anyone, but I'm not sure how to do that with Blogger. I will definitely look into it! I'd hate to miss out on someone's comment!

  3. Sarah,

    We have gradually given up tv and I think it is great. When you call someone and they can't talk to you at the moment b/c of a pivotal part of a show; it makes you think about what priorities we choose in our lives. I hope you find it to be easier than you expect. After a while the children's shows begin to wear on your nerves b/c of repetition so if you limit exposure it helps. Now we still watch a couple of shows, mainly at the in-laws but there is very little I even feel the need to see these days. Another bonus for our family is that we don't have to deal with the effects of advertising. Not only does it not interrupt the shows we watch (DVR at the inlaws or dvds at home) but my kids don't beg for things on the basis of who appears on the box. No screaming for elmo ensues at Target or for sugary cereal at the grocery store. Good luck and I hope you start feeling the rewards soon!


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