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Parent Pointe: 'No TV challenge' can reap rewards

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Published on: Wednesday, June 26, 2013

By Dr. Anita Naves

Well, I finally did it!

After complaining for several months about the inconsistencies in my cable bills and how each month brought about a feeling of dread when it came time to open my billing statements, the words “I’m getting rid of this cable” would consistently pour out of my mouth like an annoying leaky water faucet. To be honest, it wasn’t the thought of getting rid of the cable that bothered me the most — it was seeing the expression on my 12-year-old daughter’s face.

Each time I made that declaration, she would widen her eyes and make all kinds of grunting sounds before she would ask me, “Why?” 

My answer to her was, “These bills are outrageous and very inconsistent, and it seems as if I’m paying for a bunch of trash, repeat programming and fake reality shows.”

Of course, she presented me with several reasons why I needed to rethink my decision. One reason was that she had a list of programs she enjoyed watching and would sorely miss if she couldn’t watch the shows. Second, she couldn’t imagine living without cable. Third on her list was a question: "What will we do?" 

I assured her there were options we could consider, but it would not include the re-installment of cable TV.

To say the least, that did not go over too well. Considering our home phone and Internet service had all been bundled in this so-called great deal of a package, as highlighted from the primary cable company’s commercials, we not only lost the cable TV but also the home phone line and the Internet. 

I too thought, “How can I live without the Internet?” 

I quickly dismissed the thought and convinced myself that it was possible, considering I could think of better things to do with that extra money — like catch up on some bills or just save it.

“We will see,” were my last words before I made good on my declaration. 

It has been almost 45 days and still counting as I write this column. No TV, no cable, no home phone, no Internet. 

My daughter and I are amazed at the ongoing outcome of our “no TV challenge.” So far, we have realized between the two of us and our busy combined lifestyles and activities, we were actually averaging about a total of five hours of TV watching each week. To me, five hours did not constitute paying those high monthly installments. I arrived at my calculation based on the time we would arrive home from school or work. I would  make dinner, clean up, open mail, go to the track, take my daughter to her after school activities, take care of some personal business, run errands, attend pre-planned  events, visit the library, see family and /or friends, attend weekly Bible study, and volunteer to empower youth in the community.  

I thought that we would miss TV on the weekends. Wrong again! Now that summer has arrived, there are tons of free outdoor community events.

What has this challenge taught me and my family? What rewards have we reaped from this “no TV challenge"? 

For one thing, cable TV is too expensive based on the number of hours that working and productive families actually watch it.

My daughter has enjoyed reading books twice as much. She even earned a Top Reader award upon her sixth-grade promotion.

My daughter’s studies greatly improved in the last quarter of school due to not watching TV. She earned the presidential Outstanding Academic Achievement Award, and she made honor roll.

Our family communication is more enjoyable because we are not glued to the TV.

I have been able to accomplish a lot of projects I needed to complete, and my creative side has emerged in some beautiful ways in terms of redecorating, painting and exploring.

Lastly, I have even lost about 10 pounds because I get to work out more and walk on the track.

For now, I will see how long I can last without this “electrical drug” called cable TV.

Dr. Anita Naves is a contributing columnist for The Sentinel. She lives in Prince George’s County.

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