Screen-free child for almost 2 months!

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Yes. No TV, no movies on the computer, no cell phone to full around with, NADA. We don´t have a TV, so you´d think it´s easy to skip this all together. But the truth is that although we don´t have a TV, Luísa watches TV when we go to our friend´s houses back in Brazil. In fact, sometimes I urge them to turn on the TV.

But our TV time is really little as a matter of fact. Except when we go and visit my Dad, which we did for 10 days before coming to Costa Rica and there the TV is literally full on. I really like the cartoons on Discovery kids, if it wasn´t for the commercials selling all those ¨amazing¨ toys…

Back home, Luísa watches a lot of movies. She´s been watching them since she is two. It´s my free-babysitter time for myself and a bit of English as a second language time for her.

She has some cool cartoons as well. Things from some TV in Polland that I coppied from a friend. I used to like those cartoons better, but some teach really annoying stuff like sticking out the tongue or laughing when someone else´s is injured (Luísa learned this well). What´s up with this laughing at each other´s pain? How did this become so popular in far too many ¨innocent¨ cartoons?

So yeah, no TV, no computer, no cell phone for quite a while, how cool is that?

And how did I do it? I never thought we could spend so much time without the electronic pacifier to give us a break, even though I´m quite a preacher of NO-TV.

During our first weeks traveling, I´d put a film for Luísa every now and then, but with the traveling pace and wanting to be out and active, it was very little.  I brought my cell phone, but never bought a new chip, so until now, I´ve been living with no cell phone. I want to keep it like this, but somehow, to make friends in this world you kind of need one, nobody wants to plan on anything that cannot be changed at the last minute with a phone call. Strange world this one we live in.

A Waldorf incentive

When we arrived in Puerto Viejo and went to the Waldorf Kindergarten, at the first week there was a parent´s meeting and the director explained why they are so against TV, even the National Geographic Channel, and it was because the TV gives too much information that is hard for a child to deal with.

Even scientific information can be not only too much, but limiting the child´s curiosity, by telling her what things are exactly. It´s also about making the child more passive, teaching her to watch the entertainment rather than be there in the action. The teacher said how she sometimes can tell that a child in class is a TV watcher, mostly by being more passive in some sorts of body expression dances that usually makes children imitate right away (but the TV watchers tent do stay still).

TV is a little positive in terms of ¨making room for mom¨, but I decided to try it myself. Avoid the films on my computer all together.

This is more or less out routine, so you understand how we can be with no TV at all:

Luísa goes to school from 8-12 and after that I cook us some lunch or we eat out at some cheap restaurant. We do something in the house, we either paint, or she plays with her pencils (yeah, plays, not draw, she uses them as characters) and speaks a lot in her own English language while she´s at it (more on her language learning on a future post). We go for a bike ride, we go to the beach, we go and visit our friends that run a restaurant by the beach and in front of this river, so the children play by the river while the two mamas might sip a beer, or run to rescue them from the sea, we go for ice-cram and spend a while at the ice-cream shop (the only thing in Costa Rica cheaper than in Brazil: Italian ice-cream), we get bored together when there´s nothing else to do and we than have to come up with something (or I have to come up with something) and it´s usually something physical and out of our house and we go for another bike ride…

You get why we can go on without TV or any screen. This way, we have been going to bed at around 8 pm (yes, we).

Screen time is far from over for me. I use the computer while she´s at school, some good 20 hours a week, besides some movies I watch after she slept or write when she is engaged with her talking pencils.

A few days ago, she asked to watch ¨Pig¨. It´s one of the two movies she has available, Pig in The City and The Fantastic Mr. Fox. I really think that ¨Pig¨ has nothing bad at all. In fact the whole plot is quite amazing and watching the animals talking still impresses the hell out of me.

I agreed without hesitating. She´s been so good about it. A film now and then won´t do any harm. The next morning she wanted to watch again, but simply because she saw my computer on the bed (and I´m usually really good at not leaving the temptation laid out like that). I said it was ok for 10 minutes and then she´d have to be ready for school. She agreed and to my astonishment, she didn´t complain when 10 minutes later I turned the thing off.

They say that cutting TV will make the child misbehave more for a while and then be more used to spend time without it. Luísa didn´t have much time to misbehave.

Not having her during the day using the computer also reduced my own play time. Now, when I want to play the guitar, read or whatever, I have to have her engaged in something physically and not simply hypnotized by a movie. I´d say this NO-TV is tougher on me than on her, but I´m doing all right, thanks, I only have a tantrum every now and then.

So, yeah, it´s way less complicated than I thought it would be. And it obviously led us to entertain ourselves more with real life. Maybe you want to try it yourself.

If you think this article could inspire others to turn off their TV, go ahead and tweet it.

This article was originally posted on Tripping Mom by Marilia Di Cesare on March 31, 2011. Republished with authorization. Click here for all other posts.

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