What to Do Rather than TV View

What would it be like to live in a house without a single television — or, maybe only one TV that everybody had to share for watching favorite programs?

These days, television technology offers so many viewing options — from flat panel LCDs to tried-and-true cathode ray tube sets — many people can't imagine being without an electronic box that can bring them all kinds of amusement. Some families make sure they don't miss a televised thing by putting TVs in lots of different rooms throughout their houses.

TV-free (or TV-limited) homes do exist, and the kids who live there may not be all that turned off about spending little or no time in front of the screen. Here are a few ideas offered by young people who've found fun things to do — beyond television viewing — right in their own homes.

In the living room:

  • Spread out a board game — like Monopoly, Risk, Trivial Pursuit, Clue, Scrabble, or Life — and see who among your family and friends can compete, win, and have a good time.
  • Get your parents to agree to a fish tank, and you do the research on all the right purchases and care to keep it healthy. Agree to be the primary caretaker and bring in helpers to make your aquatic environment go swimmingly well.
  • Hide notes around the room and invite your younger brothers and sisters to go on a treasure hunt. Plan a treat when they wind up at the destination you planned.

The kitchen:

  1. Ask your parents to show you some of their cookbooks.
  2. Pick out some things that look good in pictures. Without reading the ingredients, write out what you think would go into making whatever attracted your tummy's attention.
  3. Talk to someone you trust as a good cook. Ask them to compare your recipe with the one in the book. Don't be shy about wondering about cooking terms, utensils, spices, and ingredients.
  4. Make a shopping list and take an adult family member to the store with you.
  5. Pick up what you need and make a wonderful dish (with supervision in the kitchen) to share with someone who'd enjoy a special treat!

Your bedroom:

  • Play cards on the bed or set up a puzzle on your desk.
  • Sketch out some pictures of what you'd like to do on your next vacation . . . or in the job you hope to have someday.
  • Write out lyrics to a song, either one you like a lot or one you could create yourself.

All around your house:

  • Listen to music and make up dance steps.
  • See the dusty spots and volunteer once in a while to wipe them clean.
  • Sit down and read a book that you bring into the space or find waiting for you.
  • Think what it would be like when you're grown up.

Outside, in an open space:

  • Run, jump, play, bike — with your friends, your pets, your family, your neighbors.
  • Plant a flower or a garden and watch it grow.
  • Look up to the sky to check out how clouds change and move, and the planets that show themselves now and then.
  • Get to know the people next door.
  • Pick up any dog poop your pet leaves behind (with a napkin and throwaway bag). (Okay, not everything's enjoyable all the time!)

TV can't capture all the fun stuff we've ever imagined. Lots of it just has to come from living it.