My eldest son really loves his television, and has always used it as inspiration for his play. He will watch a show, and spend the next several hours drawing, cutting, creating, and playing out extra scenes and related scenarios. He loves it.
At the same time, I have always struggled with a way to keep the television tides at bay. Even though we have always had a DVR and only watch channels that have no commercials (Disney, Sprout, Nick Jr.), I still have never liked how they slip in previews and other filler material that often raises requests I don’t want to meet or even hear, such as shows that we don’t watch, or referrals to games and other Internet activities I don’t want to get into just yet. Keeping the four-year old four, and not fourteen, is hard.
So after much deliberation, I finally decided to cancel my satellite cable TV subscription and move to a Netflix/Apple TV combo. I have not regretted the choice for a moment. An Apple TV box costs a one-time fee of $99. Netflix costs $8 a month for all your devices to access the entire library: iPads, iPhones, Apple TV, and all computers.
And the selection, the selection is amazing. It will take a long time for my son to exhaust the supply of movies and TVs stored in Netflix. When you combine it with what we have in iTunes already (your iTunes files stream wirelessly to the Apple TV from your computer or your iPad), it makes for a huge selection. And for $13, you can even pick up an AV port to HDMI adaptor that lets you stream, for instance, Hulu’s primtetime television service straight from your laptop to your television. There are a few network shows coming back this fall that are a favorite indulgence of mine (The Big Bang Theory, for example). Hulu keeps me plugged into that, *for free*.
Just to recap, this switch means you get all the kids stuff and all the parent stuff for about $112, plus $8 a month. What you *do not* get is ads, commercials, teasers, or anything but the show itself. Neither Netflix or Apple paid me or even asked me for this review. It was *such* a huge change in our lives, and in our parenting, that it was worth an unsolicited mention.
The one word I can think of to really describe the experience? Silent. There is a show, then silence. No jingles, no slogans, no hooks, no teasers. Silence. If that isn’t adding simplicity, I don’t know what is! I hope you enjoy it as much as we have.