It all began the day my son said to me, "Mom, there's this xxxx that does xxxx and it xxxxx, and you HAVE to buy it for me." It wasn't the first time he'd said things like that, by any means, and perhaps that was just it...it was one of a number of times and the intensity was growing in his demanding tone. It was probably the first time he'd said something like that since I'd read Clay Clarkson's Heartfelt Discipline, in which he discusses the importance of "protective discipline." (more on this later)
PBS Kids and Noggin were great--no ads, simple, positive, and educational themes--and according to my son who was suddenly "big"--they were "for babies." Ever since my son (who is crazy for Transformers) discovered Transformers: Energon which was broadcast on Cartoon Network and Transformers: Cybertron on the WB network, I felt like we were fighting a constant barrage of advertisements and negative input, even though those shows in and of themselves didn't offend us. It wasn't that I minded him watching certain carefully selected and monitored shows--it gave me a break, in a way. It was the in-between stuff, the commercials, that were getting me. So many of the other shows being advertised were just plain ugly, filled with themes of kids with bad attitudes, rebellious undertakings, the occult, violence, and plain old time-wasting nonsense. Just as they were intended to do, they were sucking him in, and that was just the ads for the other shows. There were also the commercials for toys, toys, and more toys--all plastic junk that were somehow designed to reflect, support, and suck even more money up for the above-mentioned TV shows.
I sat down with my husband that night and said, "TV has got to go..." and related to him what our son had said to me, and he agreed. It went. This was culmination of a long-time discussion we'd had about the subject, so don't think that it just dropped out of thin air and the decision was made. Truthfully, my husband and I were not watching fifty dollars' worth of TV every month, and we were clamping down so much what our son was watching that he wasn't either. Frankly, I don't know that any amount of TV is worth paying that much for, but I digress. The first days of not having the service we had a slight case of the DTs. Even though we could never find the time to do so, we had suddenly lost the option of watching TV if we wanted to. That lasted for about a day or two, and now, a few weeks later, no one even notices or misses it. We've played a lot of checkers, built some great legos contraptions, read half of The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe out loud as a family (we're reading a chapter a night), and had some interesting "wars" downstairs as a family using nerf guns and light sabers. There is no shortage of Laughter and conversation. Perhaps the best result is that I'm not hearing about all the junk he's seeing on TV and what I need to buy next for him. I haven't witnessed one negative result, so far.
So we have this big satellite dish on top of our house. We have three DirecTV boxes and a TiVo box. The dish is sitting deaf on our rooftop and our boxes are neatly stacked on a shelf in the storage room. We have one small TV downstairs in the rec room, and that is paired with a simple dvd / vcr combo unit. No one is suffering, and so far, we're still pretty well-adjusted socially. Updates on the TV-free home will follow, but my guess is that we'll be just fine.