A ban on the idiot box

11:54 AM

Yes you read that title right, and before you start panicking, this ban is not a government enforced one, unless I as a person count as a governmental body in the household (and I do, I’m the Minister of home affairs). I of my own person have indeed declared a ban on the TV in the house. The ban of course affects Ishita as she is the one in need of a detox program, but truth be told I never have been a TV person in my life and I just can’t remember the last time I watched something for myself on TV, DH isn’t particularly crazy about the tube himself, and if he switches it on it’s or to watch Cricket or out of boredom on weekends.

I went into details about how I do not particularly care about the TV myself in this blog post, and yes we still own the same good old cathodic tube TV I was already talking about and has been with us since 2004 and still works well enough for us not to feel the urge to go for a flat screen one. The only thing in the past few years that was on TV was an assortment of Disney characters and Dora, because it was easier to keep Ishita in front of it in the morning while both DH and I were getting the morning routine into gear. The problem is that Ishita has taken the damn TV for granted, even with the fair amount of parental control I enforced. It reached a point at which she would wake up at 5 asking for it to be on (always promptly refused, the rule in my house is that the TV stay off until sunrise). And it recently came to my notice that not only does she take it for granted, but she also not really watch it. And each and every time it is on she feels compelled to make 500 demands an hour and throw fits if they are not met in the next second: juice, chocolate, fruit, change t-shirt, Maggi noodles, more milk, cucumber, carrot, yogurt, potty clean up….these are actually made by her daily, on an imperative tone, with her getting annoyed at me for asking her to make a full sentence that include a PLEASE in the end. It spiralled down into her screeching like a monster when met with no, which resulted in times out and the TV going off until she calmed down, which fortunately had for effect to have my well behaved little girl back for a day or two.
Yesterday was a bad day, the third in a row of her  throwing epic tantrums, and my realising that she really couldn’t care less about the concept of delayed gratification anymore, when at this stage she actually should be better at it. And of course the past few weeks have shown me that whenever there is no TV on in the background she is actually very good at keeping herself occupied and well mannered. The TV seems to just hypnotise her and make her think that the world is her oyster and everything should bring instant gratification, and yes it does, it has been shown that it impairs or sense of time, numbs our senses and that one who eat in front of TV is more likely to over eat because the brain is occupied by another task than just eating and fail to recognize the signal that the body is full. TV is linked to ADD in some kids too.
Last night she went to bed without a bed time story and no dinner after she threw a fit first because the pizza I was baking from scratch was not taking quick enough time to cook, then because in the 15 minutes between her initial demand for the pizza to be ready right away and the time it was on the table she was no longer in the mood for it, and was rather angry with me insisting she eat some of it and my denying her 2nd cup of soy milk instead, the content of her water cup went flying all over the table in her fit of anger, mine flared and off to bed she went, sulking, totally aware of why she was punished and the last word she heard me say that night was “No TV at all tomorrow”, she tried asking for it this morning, but didn’t even throw a fit when I said no, probably still remembering my words and knowing oh too well that when I issue such kind of statement I’m dead serious about it. And she never tried to ask for the TV again this morning, she kept herself busy with her toys, books, and markers.

Of course it does help that in an effort to make her realise that the TV would so not work at all, I spent last evening hiding all of her DVDs away, and put all her craft supplies in the DVD shelf instead, pulled out all the age appropriate board games out of the game cupboard and placed them on all the shelves of our TV stand and unplugged the DVD player and TV..HA!
DH is 100% on board with the ban, and took her out to the playground this morning as soon as he woke up, then took her out again to walk the dog, if she can spend a few days without the TV on, we will then allow one DVD or one hour of TV a day, with no change of DVD mid-movie and no bad behaviour allowed, and the TV will of course go back off at the first sign of a tantrum being thrown. There is also an embargo on DVD purchases in place, the only thing we agreed to buy are books and craft supplies, she has enough toys she never plays with, and enough DVDs she no longer even appreciate.
There the parental authority has spoken!


  1. Nisha1:48 PM

    Good for you! We have a strict "no screens during weekdays" policy for my 7 year old in our home, and screens include TV, computer and any games played on a screen. Tough to enforce, especially when his class mates get to play on screens.

  2. sudha2:00 PM

    very well done ...i guess thats why it is called an idiot box!!!!i fell into that trap of watchinh tv at ishaans meal time when he ws barely 15mnths old ...and bam ...he got addicted to it . it took 2 yrs to wean him off it ...he soon will turn 5 now its a sunday affair ..and week end just a few dvd ..he has a whole lot of favrts which he can choose ,,,thank god he no more hankers or bargains for it ..even though we lax teh rule at times again on week ends bt it has been clrly said no ben10...roll no.21 or horrid henry ...if u have seen these u will understand why they got banned!!

  3. Navya4:27 PM

    well done Cyn... I would never have your resolve! This is how I was raised. I fear the distractions are worse for the present generation than for us. Back then , it was just no TV , you have to finish your homework. Now the distraction is at your finger tip in the form of smart phones with wifi, ipads, laptops, playstations and what not! Good on you to do this.. Whenever I read your posts, it is a reminder for me of what is to come!

  4. Funny I have been thinking the same last night, our childhood was blissfuly uncomplicated with us just having to play outdoor, do our homework and get an hour of TV or so on weekends, my parents were outdoorsy, and weekends were always spent doing or cycling, or hiking in the hills, or walking by the lakeside, or sailing and in the Winter it was skiing, on rainy crappy weekends in the off season we would play board games, my parents didn't mind spending money of these along with jigsaw puzzles that my mom and I would get into every Winter, after my homework and dinner was done, I would go to the living room dinning table (we used it to eat only on weekends as we had room for a table in the kitchen) and we would spend some time solving giant Jigsaw puzzles (1000-2000 pieces were the norm) before I headed to bead, these puzzles could take us weeks to complete sometimes, but was a great way to keep the mind stimulated while still winding down before bed, herbal or fruit infusions were often part of the routine :)

  5. I got exposed to ben10 through my nephews in Delhi and good lord this is one of the stupidest cartoon I ever watched good for you banning it, I haven't heard of the others, and I have a feeling ignorance is bliss in this case :)
    The only TV channels that were allowed were Disney Channel, and CeeBeeBees but sadly that one is gone now :( And even Disney Channel goes on my nerve, I just can't stand Doremon, the whiny tone and stupid plot lines are just down irritating. about 90% of the TV she watched was DVDs simply because I don't like having her exposed to these stupid ads on TV.
    Today Ishita did great not watching it, after school she reminded me that I said we would buy a new ink pad for her stamps "later" because hers dried out, so I was only too happy to go, we ended up buying more glitter paint, stickers, and play dough as well, these are the thing I do not mind at all buying :)

  6. Fortunately we don't have to deal with the other screens yet, Ishita doesn't care much about the computer and she will on very rare occasion play with DH's iPhone, my own smart phone is totally off limit though, not that she even asked for it even once. I think it's harder on their side having to deal with the peer pressure than it is for parents to enforce it. I remember growing up with rules that my friends considered strict and my resenting my parents for insisting on things such as No TV after 7pm and bedtime at 8.30, when my friends reported staying up until 9 or 10 and watching prime time movies during the week, but then as I grew older the 7pm no TV thing stayed but I was allowed to read in my room until 9, my parents had no problem forking some extra money on a book if we went over our allowance limit for the month, but we knew better than try to ask for extra money to buy an audio tape or later a CD, or argh a Gameboy game (only video game console allowed and strictly in no playing after dinner whcih was over at 7pm). I think by the time we were able to read my mom introduced us to the library, and by the time we were old enough to be members of the Junior section in the State library you can bet we got our cards, I used mine a lot and when I turned 16 and the librarian told me I had to be upgraded to an adult membership card but still needed one of my parent to sign it I ran all the way after my mom who just dropped me there and wanted to complete some errands while I was browsing, I made her sign the form in the middle of a department store and ran back to the library LOL that was how addicted to books I was.

    As an adult looking back on all this I thank my parents for all their rules, it sucked being different growing up, but if they didn't insist on these rules I might have turned into a couch potato, content to watch TV until passing out on the sofa, that looks very scary :)

  7. sudha8:46 PM

    cyn ..ur smart phn and mine is same to same ...:)..elder cannot open ..and whatever he does younger one does the same!!!!what u say abt doramon is exatly what my husband says !!!regarding roll no 21 ...they use certain terms which i dont want him to even listen!!!same wth laptop it is out of reach ..and no video games and console ..he is now on a mission to cycle without balances as its a deal only then will he get a new one on his birthday ..and he is detemined to learn ..

  8. Now that's a great constructive goal to have :) All the best to him cycling without balances :)


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