Giving up TV might not be so tough, after all

April 28, 2006|by LISA PREJEAN

Across the country this week, organizations, schools and families have been opting for unplugged activities as a part of TV-Turnoff week.

The annual event encourages TV-watchers to forgo their habit for one week and find alternative activities.

If you have been concerned about the amount of TV-watching in your household, here are some suggestions from the TV-Turnoff Network Web site,

· Put your TV in a "hard to get to" place.

So ... that would eliminate the notion of TV sets in children's bedrooms. In a child's bedroom, there should be lots of bookshelves, age-appropriate magazines, perhaps a desk stocked with art supplies ... but no TV.

· Go cold turkey.

Don't try to wean yourself or your kids. Just don't turn on the TV and you won't have to turn it off. Before trying this approach, encourage your children to read "The Berenstain Bears and Too Much TV" by Stan and Jan Berenstain. In this delightful book - which also is great to read aloud - Mama Bear decides that her family is spending too much time in front of the television, so she says they can't watch it for one week.


Brother and Sister Bear find other activities to occupy their time. They ride bikes, do their homework, sit outside and gaze at the stars, take a nature walk, watch a spider spin a web, talk around the dinner table and play with puzzles.

They ask Mama what she has against TV. She says she doesn't have anything against TV: "What I'm against is the TV habit - sitting in front of it day after day like old stumps waiting for dry rot to set in."

(With that thought in mind, try videotaping your kids as they watch TV. Then show them the videotape. They might be surprised at how silly they look.)

· On the flipside, take photos of your children doing creative things. Post the photos in prominent places.

This will show your children that you place value on that activity, whether it is playing an instrument, writing a story, working with clay or planting a flower.

· Make a list of all the things your family loves to do besides watching TV and post the list where you can see it easily.

After you've compiled this list with your children, make plans to do the activities on the list. Make dates with your family and write the activities on the calendar. If you don't schedule these, they probably won't happen. If your children know they can count on you to share activities with them, they will be less likely to complain about being bored from the lack of TV.

Feel as if you don't have enough money to do the activities on the list? Find creative ways to cut corners. Perhaps you could save all your loose change for a month and use that toward an activity for the family.

· Create your own experiences instead of living vicariously through the lives of the people you see on television.

Get involved in activities that interest you, and encourage your children to do the same. You'll be surprised at how many interesting people you will meet. It's easy to make friends with someone who shares interests that are similar to yours.

· Be patient with your children. The change will not occur overnight. They will need some help finding creative activities. If you're willing to do a little prompting and put up with a little whining initially, your efforts will pay off. Children can learn to entertain themselves, and our families will be better off because of this.

Lisa Tedrick Prejean writes a weekly column for The Herald-Mail's Family page. Send e-mail to her at

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