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The other day I was doing some light reading, by catching up on articles from other bloggers around the internet. During this website trip, I stumbled upon a great article from Chris at Keep Thrifty (Save Even More By Cutting the Other Cord - Your Antenna). It was a great article that made me question everything that I think about in terms of television.
I am a big proponent of streaming live TV, because I like to watch my favorite sports team, the Nebraska Cornhuskers. But that is the only real reason why I want live TV. I could stream my favorite shows on Hulu or even stream through the network websites. I am basically paying for a service, because I want to watch sports.
So, what exactly did Chris say that has made me question the way that we live our lives? I will answer that question below with some quotes from his article below, but first I will say that you should never live your life with certainty. Questioning things and challenging the status quo is the best way to grow as a human being. My wife and I may decide to keep live TV, but it's important to sit down and talk about some of the things that Chris presented in his article.
"For every hour of over-the-air TV, you can expect about 14.5 minutes of commercials. In those 14.5 minutes, our kids weren’t growing their minds - they were growing their wants. And their language reflected it with the two words that make parents cringe the most: 'I want.'"
This might be the most important statement of the article for anyone with kids. My daughter is only 15 months old and hasn't reached the point of stating "I want this or I want that." However, that day is coming and it just made me think, do we want our daughter to be indoctrinated to want stuff by television?
I definitely don't want my daughter to want 'stuff' just because a TV told her that it was something she needed.
"We could see our children’s attitudes changing before our eyes and it was unsettling. No longer were they content with the huge playroom full of toys they already owned. The shiny, blinky, noisy something-or-other they just saw was obviously better and necessary for their happiness."
An attitude change because of a box that we allow in our houses? Dang that's scary! My daughter has a sweet personality and is so inquisitive (like most kids at her age). I couldn't imagine her attitude changing, but the statement from Chris above is very enlightening. The choices that we make as parents (to let them watch TV or not) can affect our kids behavior and attitudes.
"The average American watches 5 hours and 11 minutes of TV a day. Roughly 24% of that is commercials. Do the math on that and the result is distressing. The average American spends just under 9 hours each week watching carefully-crafted messages telling them what their life is missing."
Dang! That statistic just jumps off the screen. NINE, that's right, NINE hours of commercials to entice you to want something that you don't have! We are no better than our kids when it comes to being susceptible to advertisements. They can convince us that we need something that we don't have.
"Without boundaries, we let TV fill our free time. It had our attention because we had lost our intention."
There is the entirety of the problem, if you let the TV control you life, it will. The key is to be intentional about how you watch TV and how you use it! Chris mentioned that he and his wife fell into a pattern of watching TV mindlessly for hours before going to bed each night.
We have fallen into that pattern in the Summit of Coin household. We get home, play with our daughter, eat dinner, put our daughter to bed and then we slip into a TV watching binge for 2 to 3 hours.
I would say that most of our TV watching is intentional (meaning most of what we watch are pre-planned shows or sports). However, after all our shows are watched, we normally struggle to find something to watch. That's when I just put on Big Bang Theory reruns until it's time for us to go to bed.
What Should We Do Next?
We are currently still subscribed to streaming live TV until the middle of June. We signed up for $25 off for three months from DirectTV Now and I know that I am going to want live TV come the fall to watch college football. So, what should we do with this knowledge that has led us to question our live streaming habits?
Step 1 - Be More Intentional
Most of the time, I believe that we are intentional with our TV viewing. We watch only the shows that we want to watch and we don't mindlessly watch shows that just come on next. However, we do mindlessly watch TV, when we have finished watching our shows. That is one area that needs a big change.
On the weekends, I'm not even sure of our TV viewing habits. From my recollection, we normally don't have the TV on during the day (unless there is a game to watch). One goal: Don't turn the TV on until after 3.
Step 2 - Be Mindful of Our Daughter when the TV is on
The most important part of Chris' article to me was the part about the change in their kid's attitude. By keeping his writing in my mind, I want to be mindful of what we are letting her watch. To date, she has watched sporting events with me and some nursery rhymes on Netflix. Having a Netflix subscription will allow us to watch some kids TV shows without her being exposed to commercials.
Step 3 - Contemplate the Keep Thrifty Method of TV Watching
The Keep Thrifty method of TV watching: No Streaming Live TV, No Cable, No Antenna, No Netflix or Hulu. They strictly check out movies from the library and stream shows on the network websites. Could we do it? I'm not sure, that's why I stated "contemplate." above.
To do this, we must be willing to do the following:
- Miss sporting events
- Would need to listen on the radio.
- I actually enjoy listening to sporting events on the radio.
- Stream our favorite shows through the network websites
- Must find a way to watch TLC shows without a subscription (might be the toughest).
Anything is possible if you put your mind to it. So, of course, we could do the Keep Thrifty method of TV watching, but that decision has not been made in the Summit of Coin household.
Something to Think About
TV watching habits have gotten out of control in America. We as a society so often just mindlessly watch TV (as the above statistics suggest). Below are three questions to think about.
- Could life be simpler and more rewarding without TV in our lives? Answer: Quite possibly.
- Could we save even more money by getting rid of TV all together? Answer: More than likely.
- Could we find more things to do as a family without mindlessly watching the TV? Answer: Most definitely.
Less TV time and more time spent sharing experiences with our family could be one of the best ways to affect change in our lives. TV time can be mindless and take us away from the people we love. It's more than a money thing, it's about time and family.
You get time back to do things that you never thought of doing before and you get more time to communicate with your loved ones.
What are your TV viewing habits? Does this change your thinking on TV? Do you have any viewing habits to change?