57 Channels And Nothin' On

posted by Jeff | Monday, November 12, 2012, 10:26 AM | comments: 0

It occurs to me that we've been without any kind of pay TV now for a little over a year. While this means about $700 or so saved, the more surprising thing is how little we miss it. When we moved, we recognized that 90% of what we watched was on network TV, available for free over the air. So we were paying for 10% of what we watched. We decided to try cord cutting.

There's a bigger question about the role that TV plays in your life, and it's probably not one that I ever thought much about until I had a child. I don't think TV is inherently evil or anything, but I do frequently ask myself if there are "better" things to do with my time. Growing up, the TV went on during dinner in the kitchen, and there was a TV on until everyone went to bed. That seems suboptimal, in retrospect, for a lot of reasons.

The thing that has changed the most is that technology has altered the way we consume media. With DVR's, we don't have to watch anything when it is originally aired, and we can skip the ads. You can watch a lot of shows via the Internet on any number of devices. The Internet itself provides a different way to use your recreation time, and it offers two-way media, if you choose to engage that way. At the end of the week, not counting Simon's shows, we probably watch around 10 hours of TV in a week. That's about 9% of our waking hours.

Simon has a very limited number of things that he can watch, and they're all from PBS. He has a stack of episodes from Sesame Street, Word World and Daniel Tiger's Neighborhood. He will on occasion watch his Pajanimals DVD. We try to be interactive with him about watching, and talk about the things he sees on the screen. Unfortunately, there are times where we turn on the TV and do stuff, which always feels crappy, like we're leaving him with an electronic babysitter.

We have to tell Simon "no" quite a bit for TV. He wants to watch it quite a bit, but declining his request usually means he goes to play. That's where we see his imagination at work, and that's what we like to see. Again, it's not that we think TV is evil, as it has clearly helped him learn numbers and letters, among other things. It's just that there are more opportunities to learn and develop when we get him away from the TV.


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