The annual tradition of encouraging people to forgo their television viewing is upon us again. Frankly, I had forgotten this until my wife sent an e-mail.
Have you thought about how much TV you have watched this year? I think you will be surprised to see the statistics on this web site. For example the number of hours the average youth spends watching TV in a year is 1500 hours! YIKES!
National Turn off the TV week begins today. See if you can challenge yourself and your children to “turn off” to TV and “turn on” to reading!
This is all well and good. The problem is this: I LIKE TV. I don’t get to watch it all that often, sharing it with The Wife and the Daughter. Not that the Daughter watches it all that much either. She watches maybe 15 minutes in the morning, when she’s getting her hair done, then less than a half hour at night when she takes her medicines, including using her nebulizer. The average youth may watch over 1500 hours a year, but our youth sees less than 300. And all of it, on PBS Kids and Nick, Jr. with some legitimate educational content; I’m actually all right with that. In fact, in honor of Earth Day, Nick, Jr. is going to have a series of new shows on the topic which I had recorded for her.
So when the Wife came home Monday night and said to the Daughter, “Hey, how would you like it if I read you a story while you nebulize instead of watching TV,” and the Daughter frowned and said, “I don’t want to do that,” I was a bit sympathetic to the Daughter. I told the Wife that she had to sell the concept. So, a half hour later, AFTER I HAD WATCHED THE NEWS, BTW, the Wife repeated what she said before. The Daughter said, “Daddy doesn’t want to stop watching his news, does he?” Well, no, actually he does not.
By “selling it”, I mean to find the key to MOTIVATE the Daughter not to want to watch TV. There was this article a book review, really, in TIME magazine a couple months ago. Regarding Switch: How to Change Things When Change Is Hard, the piece begins: “Whether you’re a manager, a parent or a civic leader, getting people to change can be tricky business. In Switch, brothers Chip and Dan Heath–authors of the best-selling Made to Stick–survey efforts to shape human behavior in search of what works.
“Lesson No. 1: tell people what you want them to do in a way that will make intuitive sense to them.” Not watching TV, rather out of the blue, made no sense to her. She was going to get a story anyway before bed. Perhaps discussing how others were also doing this across the country, aligned with some reward, might have worked.
Besides, since I watch very little in real time with the DVR – even the news is taped – I don’t really want to give it up myself. Does no TV mean that we just fill up the DVR and watch more NEXT week? The DVR’s hovering around 50% full already.
In parenting, we really try to do the united front thing. But in this case, my heart simply wasn’t in it.