My colleagues here at Common Sense Media decided it would be hilarious if they tortured me with a week without television. I'm the TV editor, so I watch a lot, and while I'm judicious in my selections for my kids, I admit that they watch a lot, too. But I'm always up for a challenge, so to coincide with the Campaign for Commercial-Free Childhood's annual Screen-Free Week, I've taken the bait. One week, no screens. For entertainment at least -- I'll still be online for work, checking weather, monitoring my bank balance -- but otherwise, nothing.
I'm a little freaked out.
It's not like I can't handle cutting back on my newest TV obsessions. That's what the DVR is for. My main challenge will be figuring out how to amuse my kids when I have things that need to get done. Like taking a shower, paying bills, folding laundry, cooking dinner. Somehow, just knowing I have TV in my back pocket, even if I don't use it, makes those moments when my 4-year-old is cranky and hungry and dinner is still 20 minutes away much easier to bear. Without that escape hatch, will I survive without tearing my hair out? And maybe the bigger question: Will my kids survive?
Even though I've come to rely on television as a cheap babysitter, I also recognize that plenty of studies show that kids with less exposure to TV and other screens are healthier, more creative, and do better in school. So I'm willing to give this experiment a shot with hopes that it can shake our family out of a rut. Maybe it will inspire some more positive family time. Maybe we'll plant a garden, put on a play, get more exercise. Or maybe I'll collapse in exhaustion halfway through and give up.