My kids get no “screen time”- in other words, they don’t watch TV. This is because we don’t own one, and I don’t allow them to watch anything on our tablets or phones. Actually, my kids don’t even ask for screen time- we don’t have a TV, and they have never watched on a tablet as they don’t even think of it as an option.
They are still young, so I still have some measure of control over what they know. By not having it in the house at all, I can ensure that I don’t just “give in”- even for a short amount of time.
Having a small amount of screen time is harder to enforce than no screen time. Taking something away from them is harder than never giving it in the first place. By having no screen time at all, I don’t have to deal with tantrums and fighting. Keeping the temptation away is easier than controlling the temptation.
This also allows us to reduce the amounts of screens we have in the house- no screen time means no need for extra screens. I have a smartphone and a laptop, and my husband has a “dumb phone,” and we share a kindle. That’s it. We don’t buy screens because we do not need to use them.
Cutting the Cord? No Need!
Besides the financial savings (No TV, no cable, no Netflix, no Hulu, no Amazon Prime, No DVD Rentals, no device for each kid), I want to raise my kids with good habits right from the start. My kids are still young, so I still have the opportunity to raise them without the peer pressure and external influences that start to seep in as they grow older.
TV is on for an average of 6 hours and 47 minutes a day in an American household. The number is staggering! Think about what you can do with all that extra time!
My kids read, do arts and crafts, play with toys, play with mud, and hang out. They are learning to do things with their time that are much more valuable than just sitting in front of a screen. This may not continue until adulthood, but they are not getting into the habit of sitting- they are getting into the habit of doing.
We spend a lot of time outdoors doing fun and frugal things. We may spend some money on toys and supplies, but at least we don’t have a cable bill. Part of embracing a frugal lifestyle is turning away from expensive electronics that constantly need updating and attention.
Controlling The Environment
TV also is FULL of marketing messages- subtle and overt. When we watch TV and movies, we are bombarded with different messages that OTHER people decide to share with us- usually in the pursuit of making themselves money (everyone’s gotta make a living!). I do not need for my children to be exposed to that.
Think of all the branded merchandise and characters available and marketed directly towards children. We hear and bemoan the “marketing zombies” that so many people have become- why should I offer my kids up for that? I’d rather have my kids grow up with the least amount of materialistic pressure possible. They will get enough of that from friends and relatives.
This may not be directly related to personal finance (even though think about the money we save by not buying a TV or any subscriptions services!). Still, it’s about creating life-long habits in ourselves and our children. It’s about starting as you mean to go on.