Local youngsters cope with unplugged televisions

WARRENSBURG - With the national TeeVee Turnoff week concluding last Sunday, Warrensburg Elementary students in Carolyn Cyr's fourth grade class talked Monday about their experiences with darkened screens at home.

Ben Jenks said at his mother and stepdad's house, the entire family gave up television cold-turkey for a week, and he and his sister read books, jumped on a trampoline and played outside to fill their spare time.

But the highlight of the week, he said, was when the whole household - adults and children - all enjoyed a squirt-gun battle, he said.

"My stepdad won the fight - he climbed a tree and shot me through the tree-fort window," he said with enthusiasm.

Samantha Brandt also convinced her mom Charlotte Haskell and stepdad Mike Pate to give up television for a week, the fourth-grader said.

"Almost every night after my homework was done, we went outside and had a campfire," she said. "It was cool."

Marissa Ray of Warrensburg also said she had fun.

"I played all kinds of stuff - I climbed a tree, and I haven't done that for years."

Jarod West of Warrensburg also said he enjoyed the break from television, which for decades has nationally dominated children's lives and raised alarm with psychologists, doctors and therapists.

At the home of his after-school caregiver this past week, Jarod drew pictures and played in the yard while other youngsters watched television inside.

But at home, Jarod had the real fun. One of the evenings, he recruited neighborhood kids for a game of "Manhunt," he said.

"When we tracked down somebody, we chucked water balloons at them," he said, grinning. Neighbor Dean Moore, a naturalist, got involved in the fun too, teaching the kids how best to climb trees and how to make bird calls, Jarod said. On the weekend, Jarod went four-wheeling and helped his mom Lee West build a patio with bricks, he said.

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