Friday, November 23, 2012

T-V Or Not T-V ?

We decided before we got married not to have a television.  It was because of a family I stayed with for a week right before our wedding day.  The children and the parents in the family were all just so nice to one another, in a way I hadn't seen before.  They didn't have a television, so we thought we'd try it...

Google images

It wasn't hard :)  What did we do?  We were in love; we played board games, went for walks and drives, read books, listened to music and the radio, invited friends over for dinner, and talked to one another.  Occasionally a kind friend would feel sorry enough for us to offer us their old TV, but we always said no, thank you :)

board games = ] no tv

As the children came (seven in ten years and yes, I've heard the jokes), I did sometimes regret them not having access to Sesame St. and Playschool.  But eventually videos were introduced and we happily watched our first video, 'Aladdin.' enough times that our children could recite it word for word.  (As luck would have it, we were in an area where there was poor reception, so we were able to have a TV set that could not be used without an aerial, which we didn't have)  We enjoyed family movie nights each Friday too.  We would happily cuddle up together, with pillows and covers and some popcorn, while we watched a succession of video shop golden oldies like, 'Seven Brides for Seven Brothers', and 'Mary Poppins'.   Good times :)

The major difficulties in not having a television were having to explain to Social Science and English teachers  that our child hadn't done their homework because they didn't have access to the news or other shows, and the children feeling left out of the inevitable, 'did you see what happened on (a particular) TV show last night!?'  We managed :)

Five thoughts on living without a TV:

1.    Television is a doorway through which the world pours in: the good, the bad and the ugly - and amazingly, we accept most of it into our lives without much question.  When we had  been without a TV for some years we happened to be at a friend's home while their TV was on and an underwear Ad came on.  Shapely girls wearing briefs and bras ran screaming down some stairs and I was a bit taken aback.  It struck me that if I were to open our front door and have half-clad girls run through our house I would be a little outraged and my husband would be appalled!   Yet because it's on television we accept it?  Would we really sit down and get comfortable to watch a couple getting naked together in real life, or watch someone in the shower or on the toilet?  Yet because it's on TV, it's ok?   We seem to unconsciously give up or relax our own standards when we mindlessly accept the standards someone else chooses for us.  I don't like the feeling of passing over my choices to others.  I want to consciously and carefully choose what to welcome into our home.  I want to live with integrity, which for me has meant rejecting a lot of what television has had on offer, because it's not in line with what I want to have in my life or in my family.  

2.    In an article you can read here, one researcher recorded:  "It's sort of counter-intuitive, because people think their kids would drive them nuts without TV..  But parents found that kids became very good at entertaining themselves and didn't need to be entertained all the time by something that was lively and active. They didn’t complain about being bored."  I found this too.  Our children used to play together very happily for the most part, and rarely complained of being bored.  I'm pretty sure that our children grew up happier, closer, and emotionally healthier because they didn't watch TV.  I can't know for sure, but that's how it seemed to us.  I believe our family was better without television.

family playing soccer

3.    I know you can choose your programs, but you cannot choose the Ads, and some of them are doosies!   I remember seeing one Ad where a little girl happily cleaned her teeth for ages (great toothpaste, apparently), while her brother angrily banged on the bathroom door wanting to get in.  No sex or murder involved, but these two were not behaving in a way that I wanted our children to behave.  I didn't need anyone to be giving our children lessons in rudeness and selfishness.

4.   We had television for a limited period a couple of times over the years.  (eg  On a six-month contract when the Australian Olympics were on.)    So we knew what it was like to have it and to not have it.   Occasionally we asked all the children together what they thought about us getting it?  (Mind you, we told them we weren't a democracy and their votes didn't necessarily count; we were just interested)  Of the nine of us, only one son ever voted to have TV.  He loved sports, and he wanted to be able to talk to his friends about the latest shows.  But all the rest of the family felt themselves to be happier without it.

5.    Television viewing for many people is probably their activity of choice between about 7pm and 10pm most nights. That's about 15 - 21 hours a week.  What else could we be doing with all that time?  We could write a book, learn to paint, train for a marathon, learn ballroom dancing, spend more real time with our children and husbands/wives..  We could get on top of the ironing pile, clean out all of our drawers, volunteer somewhere, invent something, sew a quilt, have friends over, study, compose music, take a wood-working course...   And when we do sit down to watch a show we have chosen, a whole 20 minutes out of every 60 minutes is taken with Ads!  Don't we resent that?!  ( I resent that! :)

I could probably go on and on but you get the idea.  You can find more to read of interest about the topic from what other people have written here and here.  But in summary:

It's a choice.   There are many good reasons to have TV, and to sometimes not have TV.  I'm not trying to change people's TV habits; it doesn't bother me what other people do.  My point is just that we ought to consider that we have options...     Although it's the norm, we don't have to have a TV if we decide we'd be better without :)  Worth thinking about? 

Phillipians 4:8



  1. The main thing I missed was the news.

    And these days, I have a TV, but I was chatting with someone the other day and realized that I haven't actually 'watched' it in about 3-4 months! lol! I watch TV shows on DVDs, but not TV. So I guess we weren't missing much :)

    xoxo Tammy

    1. I used to think that too, but now I am glad not to watch the nightly news. I don't mind not knowing a lot of what is presented. I found our weekly Time magazine a good way to follow important events for many years, and now I look at the news each day on the net - which allows me to follow my interests and ignore the rest.

  2. I didn't miss the news - the news is usually unpleasant :P These days it's really the ads that bother me - some are awesome but some are just gross, it seems like they can get away with anything these days so I'm happy to sticking to DVD's. And so happy that James feels the same way and doesn't remotely want TV - I used to wish he didn't go out and play sport so much, but I'm glad he's out there playing it instead of watching it on TV. We should write a book with all our free time!! - something about... vampires?? lol

  3. could same the same about the internet and what is shown and written on the internet....there's not all bad in technology.

  4. At different times growing up it was annoying not having TV like when we were told to "watch that show and then right a report on it" for school ...I just got to do it on my favourite movie instead :P But overall I'm glad we didn't have it.
    Since being married though I've been terrible. It's like I suddenly had this whole new world and I totally got drawn in to a million shows. And it's true, I allow so much into my home and mind that I wouldn't otherwise.
    At the moment Robbie and I have started a new thing - no TV except for half an hour between about 7:15-7:45 at night (after putting Hallie to bed) to sit on the couch and unwind. Other than that we're trying to cut back. The exception is me because I can still watch something I've recorded while I'm feeding in the middle of the night or whenever. Otherwise I get super duper bored because I can't read when I feed Hallie because she tries to touch anything in my vicinity and she rips the pages.. :S.
    Anywho, I like this post Mum and it's a good reminder. I need to re-draw my lines about what is and isn't appropriate to be brought into our home via the television.

    1. Lol Beth! - obviously you didn't 'right' enough reports in school ;)

  5. Thanks for this post! I've recently cut back on tv, and I'm getting so much more done!

    We didn't have a tv in London... because you had to pay for a license every year! I loved not having one. Now that you can record tv shows, I hardly ever watch anything live. I can't stand all the ads... and once you start watching tv series without the ads.. going back to ads feels like such a waste of time!!

    P.S I hate the news. Every story always has the media spin on it, and it's rarely 'good' news.

    1. I totally agree with you Stace! We have TV reception in the house we are renting until we build again, and after only watching DVD's it is a shock to be expected to sit through all those Ads if we turn on the TV! And I never watch the news either - for both the reasons you pointed out :)

  6. Okay, fine! I'm obviously the ONLY person who likes to watch the news!

    Bahahahaha :)