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TV or not TV

Groucho Marx once said, "I find television very educating. Every time somebody turns on the set, I go into the other room and read a book."

So taking their cue from Groucho, the Center for Screen-Time Awareness created TV Turnoff Week, which wraps up today. Their hope is that " people can live healthier lives in functional families in vibrant communities by taking control of the electronic media in their lives, not allowing it to control them."

As for the Connors, for the past few years, we have unplugged the TV and relegated it to the bowels of our basement, hidden from the kids. This is less about being high and mighty and more about not being bottom-feeding. Given the opportunity, our son would never leave the flickering glow of the TV set. So I would say we are a 95 percent TV-free house; the TV gets plugged in for Sabres playoff games, Gilmore Girls marathons, and when our son sneaks it out of the closet when he's desperate to watch Sponge Bob.

In the Great Screen Time War, we have won the Battle of the TV, but are near surrender in the Battle of the Computer, the Battle of the Cell Phone, and Battle of the iPod, all of which I would describe as Zenith substitutes.

(I confess to being a screen-time addict myself, between my laptop and crackberry, so am not really one to talk.)

I can't say that as a family who has mostly turned off the TV that we are leading healthier lives, are more functional, or making our community more vibrant.But having our semi-TV-sensory deprivation policy has reaped some rewards. When are kids are away from screens, they actually experience boredom, which is then motivating and stimulates creativity. Like inspiring them to make a car out of a giant box. Or "putting on a show!" Or getting out a step ladder and climbing over the neighbor's fence.

But turning off the tube for the good of the kids can be a drag for the parents. I feel out of the cultural loop. I don't know if Sanjaya really was a lousy singer. I didn't get to experience the 24/7 Anna Nicole Smith coverage. I can't engage in water cooler chat about The Bachelor, House, Boston Legal or whatever people watch. I guess this is what is meant by the business cliche "you have to eat your own dog food."

Parent Company is eager to hear from Buffalonians (or others) who have been able to stick to this media version of the Atkins Diet during TV Turnoff Week -- especially since the Sabres were in two conference semifinals games. Drop us a comment and tell us how it went, unless you've darkened your computer screen too.

---Allison

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