Benefits of No TV

A co-worker, who just learned that we do not have a single TV, was asking? “How do your kids deal with it? Are they upset?”

The short answer is No.

The long answer is that when they were pre-school age, I bought a TV, thinking it would make it easier to recruit babysitters. But the quality of our interactions was so much poorer, and then the kids didn’t want to do anything besides watch TV. So when the eldest left for college, I sent the TV with him. We had the blasted thing for about 7 months.

The kids found other things to do. They made forts with the couch cushions, they read lots and lots of library books, one of them created comic strips for several years. We built a tree house, they rode their bikes in a nearby park, and each of them took up at least two musical instruments.

They did watch TV at their dad’s and friends’ houses, and they had the satisfaction a few times of telling the teacher that they couldn’t do the assigned homework because they didn’t have a TV. (This was always accompanied by a note from me verifying it was true.) Once or twice, I overheard them bragging to a friend that they didn’t have a TV at home.

It is hard to know for sure, but I think they are more creative and disciplined than they would be if we did have a TV.

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The band performing at the Black Sheep Café last Friday night.
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7 responses to “Benefits of No TV

  1. TV does make a difference. I am not one to ban it totally, but it does need a lot of control and sometimes it’s easier not to have one at all! (I am nearly rid of mine – cable is cancelled, we have no more analog in this country and my husband is persuaded!!) We had cable for a while when the older kids were small and then moved to a place where there was none (i.e. no advertising on national TV!) and the behaviour change was amazing – suddenly no more begging for junk toys. I don’t think any of our kids ever watched much TV, there was too much else to be doing, living in the countryside with a rambling house, garden, pets, friends… With my grandkids, I see their parents have cut TV (yay) and though they know how to use modern technology, their only viewing is now ad-free stuff on YouTube/iPad or DVD – and bingo, no more junk-toy begging. Active, creative kids result! (oh, and movie time is family time… :))

  2. My mother would never let my brother and me watch tv during the week. We played after school, then dinner, homework and bath, and if we had time to spare, we read. I don’t watch tv (in the sense that I don’t have cable so I get no channels) but I do have a tv for my yoga and exercise dvds and I do enjoy watching movies from the library. I don’t buy newspapers and don’t have a computer (but will buy one when I retire) but I do listen to the radio at work and scan various online newspapers for the headline national and international news. People think I’m strange. My aunt has tv and cable but no dvd player and people think she’s strange. Her daughter has a computer but no tv and people think she’s strange. Amazing!

  3. I am torn about this TV question! I am totally convinced that your kids are more disciplined and creative because you don’t have a TV. At the same time, my own TV story is not totally negative.
    When I was little, we had only one channel and I watched very litlle TV.
    Then later, as a teenager, we got a lot more channels and I watched TV like crazy, maybe 6 or 8 hours a day! Mostly junk (soap operas) but also many many quality programs (about literature, the world, quality interviews and people belonging to various social groups). I felt, it was my window to the world and that I am the person I am today because all these good programs that I watched. But I was cleary a TV addict, with no discipline for schoolwork. I also believed it was not positive for my creativity or my social life.
    Still, I remember my teenage years as the happiest in my life, so sometimes I view TV as a help that made these years easy for me. Back then, there were none of these reality tv show and in Europe, there were not yet these very low quality talk shows.
    After that I spend 15 years without a TV and did not think much about it. I have had a tv now for the past couple of years but the quality of the programmation is so bad I almost never watch it and got irritated at the time I spend searching for something good to watch among all those channels, seldom finding anything. Cable tv would perhaps be a solution but I don’t like thematic channels, I like to be surprised by the offer of program on a given channel rather than watch all the time cooking, history etc…
    For the past couple of months, the TV has been unplugged (we needed this corner of the room to put a kid’s bed) and I don’t miss it at all. With small kids in the house, the evenings are often the only time when I can do some intellectual work and feel productive. This is very precious for the sanity of the mind!
    So, TV or not TV in the future, that’s the question! While older kids may handle the fact of being “different” from their friends very well, I am worried that smaller kids may feel sad about it…..

  4. I would have liked to watch more TV when I was a child and teenager, but was limited to one hour per week. Now, when I can watch as much as I want, there is very little on that interests me.

  5. Fawn,
    Your advice on this site rocks!
    Do you share your email address? I have a question or two for you.
    If not, I understand!
    Thanks!

  6. Thanks for sharing! We do not have a TV either and love the benefits. One question my husband and I have pondered is if our daughter will be mad about our decision (not that it would change our minds). From your experience, it sounds like it should not be a problem.

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