Canning Your Tube by Paula Schmitt

Written by Paula Schmitt

Ever consider canning your tube? You know that square or rectangle magnet-like box that sits in the corner of your family room. The one that sucks you in and turns you into a couch potato zombie. Yes, that would be the one, with all its misleading shows and commercials, and there’s never a shortage of those annoying commercials.

I remember quite vividly the days of our family life with television. The morning routine of getting everyone up and ready for school, only to find that instead of brushing their teeth or making their bed, the kids are stuck like glue to the TV set begging for just a few more minutes of The Power Rangers or Ninja Turtles…Ugh.

Let’s not forget the after school shows. I would be so happy to see that yellow bus pull up in front of our house, the kids smiling faces, to hear about their day, only, wait a minute, where’d everybody go? They blew right past me and headed to something “more interesting”…Hello.

How about some good, fun family time together after dinner and before bed time; anyone up for a game of Parcheesi? Oh, I forgot. MTV’s on. So much for Parcheesi…Hmmm.

The time had come. Time to say farewell to that blasted brain cell destroyer. Could we survive? You bet. The transition was shocking to the kids at first, to say the least, but before long, we started to actually communicate with each other and it felt so good. Sure they missed their shows and sure they didn’t know all the latest catchy ads. But you know what? It didn’t hurt.

The morning routine now kind of goes something like this. Everyone up and ready for school. Few extra minutes, great, let’s get some homework accomplished or how about reading the newspaper…now there’s an idea.

Here comes that yellow bus. Hurray, they notice me! This is a good time for some outdoor activities and I’m even invited to play. They actually have time to tell me what went on in school today…even look forward to it, I think.

How about that close family time together after dinner and before bed. Step aside MTV, it’s time for a game of cards and sometimes even Parcheesi…imagine that.

On a more serious note, research shows that children age 2 to 17 watch an average of 3 to 4 hours of TV per day, or approximately 28 hours each week. By the time children complete elementary school, the average child will witness more than 100,000 acts of violence on TV, including 8,000 murders. These numbers double to 200,000 acts of violence and 16,000 murders by the time they graduate from high school. Children who watch a lot of TV have a greater risk of obesity, increased alcohol and drug use, and earlier involvement in sexual activity.

Overall, children who watch 3 to 4 hours of TV per day spend less time on school work, have poorer reading skills, play less well with friends, and have fewer hobbies. These statistics are quite shocking.

With the hustle and bustle of life these days, and we all know how that goes, the importance of family time tends to take a backseat, unfortunately. Quality time together is so important; you’ll find that if you stop and listen to one another, you just may learn something you didn’t know before, like your sons science project came in first place at school, or your daughter aced her last math test. You’ll also find that you have more time to accomplish things in life for yourself and for your family instead of caving in and becoming that couch potato zombie.

Whatever you choose, regarding your tube, even if it’s just for a weekend, or every now and then, simply unplug it. Take a break. You just may learn something new about your kids and who knows…you may even like it.

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