televisionLess than one week into our summer vacation, something amazing happened. My kids didn’t watch a single television show, play a single video game, or use a single electronic device for three whole days! That’s right. For 72 hours straight, my children had no exposure to electronic media. To my amazement, contrary to what they seem to think will happen if they don’t get their fix, they didn’t actually die of boredom! Their little heads didn’t explode due to lack of visual stimulation!

Don’t get me wrong; I am a definite proponent of having a television. If we didn’t have TV, I wouldn’t have been able to shower for several years, because plopping my kids in front of Curious George for 23 minutes was the only way I was confident that they would sit still long enough for me to wash my hair. It’s also my go-to when I just need a break from, well, my kids. So trust me when I say that I owe television for my cleanliness and my sanity.

In fact, leading up to their unscheduled digital media hiatus, we let them watch for three hours straight because my husband and I needed to get some stuff done around the house that would have been seriously hindered by two meddling kids. When we were done, they shut it off and we went on about our day.

When they asked to watch the next day, all I said was “No.” They fussed and whined and complained about it, of course, but I told them that it was a beautiful day so we were going to spend it outside. So we did.  And they had fun! They played games. They ran around the house. They made up their own American Ninja Warrior obstacle course. It was a great day.

The following two days, I’m not even sure if they asked to watch television or play video games. It just never came up. I ran a couple of errands with them, we went to the beach, we went to the park, and they played in the yard.

Despite all the fun they have without their eyes glued to some sort of electronic screen, most of the time when I tell them they can’t watch television or play a video game, you would think I told them that I wasn’t going to feed them for a week. The unbelievable drama that goes on makes me wish I had never introduced television to them in the first place. It makes me wish I was living out in Central Pennsylvania with all the Amish folk, milking cows and raising barns.

Perhaps the worst part about all the whining when I say “no TV” is the fact that every single time, when they’ve finished whining, they find something to do. They draw, or color, or read, or build Legos, or play with their stuffed animals, or build a fort. The list goes on and on.

So my question to them is “Why?” Why waste all that energy being upset when they know that, within five minutes, they’re going to find something to entertain themselves? WHY, DAMMIT?! Of course I know I’ll never get an answer to that question. I also know that I’m not going to move to Amish country, or get rid of our TVs or our tablet or our video games; as I said before, I owe too much of my sanity to those devices.

But I am going to keep saying “no” when the sun is shining. If the sun isn’t shining, we have books, and board games, and pencils, and crayons, and oh so much more. And all of those electronic devices will continue to be my last resort.

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