My fifth grader was out of school last Thursday and Friday. Because of concerns over the H1N1 virus, there’s a new rule: A student with a fever has to stay home for 24 hours after the fever subsides. So she picked up a book — the next installment in the Pendragon series, a huge hit with her friends — and read. And read. And read. And when the weekend came, she continued to read, and finished the book by Sunday afternoon.
All of my kids are reading more this fall, because we eliminated the cable television back in August. I’m not sure if it’s the lack of cable or simply academic maturity, but one of my kids advanced to the highest level in three of her core courses, and started the quarter with a brand new schedule (and class sizes of just 15 students. Hurray!) My youngest has not nagged me to buy her something she saw advertised in two months, and that was something that used to happen on a daily basis.
The games we have in the closet — Boggle, Mancala, Monopoly – are no longer gathering dust. We talk more. We laugh more. They listen better. The dog is loving the extra attention.
Television is a gigantic time suck. A recent news article noted that kids age 2 to 5 are now watching 32 hours of television a week, according to Nielsen. Kids age 6 to 11 are watching abotu 28 hours a week. Those figures are the highest since 2001.
It’s not that we’re Luddites; we get the news from the internet, and movies on Netflix. And I do miss the ability to veg a little with the TV on before bed. (I’m re-reading Chekhov’s short stories instead.) There’s a new sense of control, of proactive choice in terms of the media we consume. And my oldest shocked me the other day when she said, “I really don’t miss the TV.” Music to a mother’s ears.
Would love to hear your experiences about life with and without television. Comment here or email me at laura at laurarowley dot com.