Saturday, May 12, 2012

Re-Thinking TV Turn-Off Week

Inspired by our local library, we committed to turning off our TV and video (computer) games for a week. We made it through with little complaining from the kids. We nixed movies and computer time and, since we don't do much of those anyway, we hardly noticed.

But the concept of TV-Turn-Off Week is outdated and needs to be re-invented for this brave new screen-happy world. Patents work from home - on computers, phones, & iPads - and accessing of videos for work and education is normal. We have iPhones and iPads that house our communications and music, as well as games and movies and all else. In our house there is a digital picture frame. Cameras are all screen based. Brother-Bug has a hand-me-down iPod that has games on it. We have a TV, but no cable or conventional TV access. We use Netflix and library DVDs for our viewing enjoyments. These kids have seen actual commercial television maybe 2-3 times. We have no video game console, though Papa-Bug does have some games on his computer that are video game-ish. I use the computer not only for writing and work, but to also access a lot of our educational materials.

Where does this leave TV-Turn Off Week? I love the idea, but obviously it's time to re-evaluate how it fits in a world so littered with screens. When I was little we hung a sign on the TV and that was it. The computer with games like pong(!) was in Dad's home office and we just couldn't use it for the week. It didn't bother us that Dad did keep using it for work - screens weren't in such heavy use that we really thought about it.

How to explain the difference between media use as mind-dulling entertainment, a photography project, a writing project...? Kids are on computers daily in schools - how does that relate?
Can we even begin to contemplate turning off the TV when the ease of screen entertainment assails us from so many other quarters? Or an alternate view - does turning off the TV really make a big difference, when there are so many other screens we access?

Over at Adbusters, they have renamed it Digital Detox Week, and I think they have some good ideas, but it's hard to figure out a good way to relate these ideas directly to kids. Ironically, one of their ideas is based on an online video....

I've been turning this over in my head for almost two weeks now, and I don't know what the answer or balance is. Going totally screen free is not practical or possible anymore. No solution or balance has jumped out at me. Thank goodness I have a year to think it though and prepare for next year!

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