No cable? That's a reality show that kids won't like

By Jim DeBrosse

Readers of this column may recall that I tried to eliminate cell phone texting last year as a cost-saving measure and lost the battle with my kids. It was either pay the extra charge for texting or lose contact with my three teenagers, which defeated the whole purpose of having a family cell phone plan. Welcome to Round Two in our Battle of Home Telecommunications.

Two weeks ago, I had the DVR and premium cable service removed from my house, a savings of about $30 a month. That leaves our household with 16 mostly local and public TV stations.

And some very, very unhappy children.

I pulled the plug on premium cable for any number of reasons. One, I needed to cut our budget somewhere to offset rising health insurance premiums and copays. Two, at least one of my children was spending too much time in front of the TV and not enough time with homework and books. Three, I saw a way to motivate all three kids toward more meaningful pursuits, including part-time jobs and extracurricular activities.

Like Luther nailing his 95 theses to the church door, I drew up a list of goals for each child under the ominous heading, "My Conditions for the Return of Premium Cable," and posted it with the strongest magnet I could find on the refrigerator door.

This brought chuckles from the kids -- until they began to realize they couldn't time-shift their favorite TV programs, and that they were now doomed to watching Maury and Jerry Springer while eating their after-school snacks.

"Can't we cut something else?" younger daughter wailed. "I'm going to miss the Golden Globes."

Such as? "I don't know. Junk food Fridays."

"That means I would have to cook on Friday nights." Translation -- "No way."

Older daughter said she couldn't care less because she didn't watch much TV anyway. (We'll see after a few more weeks of Maury and company.)

Middle son was the least happy of the three. He called the change "stupid" and "old-school" among other less mentionable terms. When I told him I had no time for watching TV when I was in high school, his answer was, "Yeah, and they had like 10 channels back then."

"Nope. Three."

He went on to inform me, in so many words, that his generation doesn't have to work as hard as my generation did -- a statement that only hardened my resolve.

"Believe me," I said, "your generation is going to have it twice as hard as mine. You'd better start preparing now."

That's a reality they won't find on any TV show, no matter how many channels we get.

  • DATE: January 23, 2010

  • PUBLICATION: Dayton Daily News (OH)

                        Copyright, 2010, Cox Ohio Publishing. All rights reserved.

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