You don't have a TV!? You don't have a cell phone!? This realization seems to incite the fight or flight response. While hyperventilating, a series of rhetorical questions shoot into the air:
- You can get TV/phone for so cheap.
- Your children will feel left out. What do--I have to go.
It's not personal. Just like I choose not to partake in these forms of technology, they choose only to function within these specific modes. My girlfriends have tried to do an intervention, and my husband and I have been the center of jokes at a few dinner parties. Does it hurt my feelings? No. Am I embarrassed? No Way!! We know exactly what we are doing and why.
First, a little background. My great grandmother who is 100 years old abstains from technology. To this day, she will not talk on a phone or ride in a car. I think that may have genetically predisposed me for the low tech life. While we did have a television in my childhood home, the only time we watched television was Saturday Morning Cartoons. Yeah Snorks, Smurfs, and Captain Planet! My sisters and I spent much of our time roaming the swamps and fields.
As a high school student AP courses and extracurricular activities took up any possible TV viewing time. College? I draw a complete blank for any shows or movies that came out during that 4 year period. Also, I struggle with filtering and overstimulation. I am not among the talented who possess that superpower which enables them to simultaneously study and listen to music.
So what about my "deprived" children?! Well, the American Academy of Pediatrics says that children under age 2 should not have any screen time (i.e. TV, computer, video games), children over age 2 should be limited to 1-2 hours a day. In fact, a child's eyes are not fully developed until age 7. Excessive periods of screen time before age 7 can hinder that development. There is some evidence from recent studies in the United States and Australia that the amount of time school-aged children spend outdoors, in natural light, may have some impact on whether they develop mild myopia. Let's not forget that ages birth to 7 are the formative years, which lay the foundation for all learning/development. At this time you want to nurture the brain as much as possible.
Screen time, due to the orienting response, inactivates the neocortex and sends the body into fight or flight (which can feel thrilling). Not only will this subject a child to headaches, dizziness, and tiredness, but it zaps her creative juices. Then there are the advertisements. I have beef with commercials; how dare someone bypass me and market their substandard toys and self-destructive indoctrination to my child. Then there is the issue of sexuality and violence--yes, these are in children's programming!
So what do we have against the cell phone? Although we could cite health issues, our reasons for nil cell phone use are more social. We experience richer social interaction and deeper relationships without it. We attribute our wonderful marriage and family partly to our lack of cell phone and TV usage.