In my house growing up, we had two televisions. One in the basement, in the TV/playroom, and one in the kitchen. Every day, during breakfast, my dad would have the news on, and then when he left for work, the station would switch and we'd have some kids' show, like Arthur. My little brother and sister got to the point that they'd only eat breakfast when there was Arthur or Telletubbies on, and since my mother was concerned about them not eating enough, we always had TV on during breakfast.
On Sundays, we'd watch Magic School bus. My mom would record educational TV shows like Bill Nye the Science Guy, Reading Rainbow, and other similar shows when I was younger. I'd look forward to a sick day when I could lie down on the couch in the basement and just watch TV non-stop. Big Comfy Couch, Arthur, Price is Right- anything- so long as it was TV. I would lie there, eyes glued to the screen, from morning until evening.
When I wasn't sick, I used to watch TV when I got back from school when my mom was out (I was in love with Dawson's Creek when I was in high school). We'd have to earn TV time, and mom only wanted us to watch educational stuff. (And Star Trek. Because she was a Trekkie, and she watched it, so we ended up watching it with her.)
I was in love with TV growing up. As you can see, whenever I could watch, I would.
And yet, as an adult, I choose not to have a TV in my house. No, I don't mean that I don't have cable. No TV whatsoever, cable or no.
Yes, we do watch movies on Youtube, etc... but no TV.
I have lots of issues with TV, which is why I don't bring it into my house.
Here's why I choose to have no TV and to raise my kids with no TV, even though TV was a big part of my life growing up.
TV is addicting.
I remember sitting in front of the TV for so long, eyed glued to the screen, simply unable to turn it off. And as soon as one show was over, immediately another would come on. And when that was over, another would come on. And another! It never was over! Getting up from the TV took a lot of self control, or mom yelling at us.
It is very hard for most people to say "Ok, I've had enough TV" because they want to see what comes next. And what is after that. It's a vicious cycle. At least with a movie, when it's over, it's over.
TV hooks you in.
Because you know that certain shows are only on at certain times, you end up scheduling your life around the TV show, because otherwise you'd miss it. Instead of having life and scheduling relaxing breaks with TV into it, TV ends up dictating what you do with your life and when.
And because of series that have continuations, and wanting to keep up with the plot line, even if you wouldn't mind doing something other than watch TV, you end up feeling that you need to watch, otherwise you'll miss out and won't be able to keep up with the story.
Watching the unknown.
I will never watch a movie without first knowing the title, the rating, the plot line, the genre, etc... I don't want to watch gory movies, nor do I want to watch movies with nudity or heavily sex based. I hate horror movies and depressing movies. I always check out these details about movies before even considering watching them. And that's just for me- even more so for my kids! There are certainly things that I don't want them seeing at ages 5 and 3, and yes, that includes things that are on kids' TV channels.
When you watch TV, things just come on, without telling you what it's rated, what the plot line is, what genre it is. And you watch the unknown. And you can end up being very much surprised...
Last time I was watching TV was when I was visiting my mother in law. My husband, Lee, and I were watching a movie, seemed like a nice family movie... and then part way through it turned out it was a horror movie. Bad idea. I like to know before something comes on what it will be about, whether or not it is appropriate, and whether or not I want to watch it or want my kids to see it. TV doesn't usually give you that choice.
This is a biggie for me. It's one of the main reasons I don't want a TV.
You know how TV companies make money? Usually it is because of advertising. Commercials.
Companies know that you and your kids will be sitting in front of the TV, absorbing any and all messages being broadcast. They want to convince you to buy their product, so they make commercials showing how amazing your life will be if you have that item they're trying to get you to buy.
The first time you see this, ok, you may or may not be affected, but the more you see the same commercial, the more it sinks into your brain that your life isn't good without this item, that only once you have this item, can you be truly content. Companies are paying big bucks to broadcast these messages, and the reason they do so is because it works! People see things in commercials, and they develop an insatiable desire to get this item, usually an item that they hadn't even known about before seeing the commercial, and were perfectly happy to live without until the constant bombardment of the message that only x product will make you truly happy.
As someone who is raising kids to be happy with what they have, and not be obsessed with materialistic pursuits, I think having a TV is completely counterproductive. Because when you watch so many commercials, you either end up being miserable because you don't have all these things you want, or broke because you spent all your money on these things the commercials convinced you that you needed.
This goes for adults as well, not just kids. The more you watch something, the more it seeps into your brain. And this isn't something that you necessarily want seeping into your brain.
On top of the issues with TV itself, there are also issues that are there also with TV and also with watching movies, whether on the computer or DVD, etc... While not having a TV doesn't eliminate these issues, because of the previously mentioned factors, without a TV you're less likely to watch as much and as frequent as you would if you had TV.
Kids (and adults) need to be active. Plopping in front of a movie or show encourages sedateness. We need exercise and not to be lazy couch potatoes to keep healthy and be strong.
Little brain development.
Kids learn a lot from playing games and interacting with others. They watch adults and older kids and learn to model their actions. This teaches them good behavior as well as how to get things done.
Kids have such wonderful imaginations, full of endless ideas and creativity. When not sitting in front of a TV, and when not given specific instructions what to do, they come up with such wonderful ideas and ways to entertain themselves. This is a great way to learn to think creatively instead of being spoon fed info.
When plopped in front of a TV, instead of being dynamic and learning and doing and thinking, they're passively absorbing whatever it is that is on TV. I'm not saying this is all bad- there is lots of knowledge that my kids have picked up from movies they've seen, lots good, but also lots I didn't need them to know. But one thing for sure- it's not as good for their development as thinking up new imaginative games...
So yes, no TV in our house, and we aren't planning on raising kids with a TV. We don't think it's good for them, or for us. And it's not just about cost.
Do you have a TV? Do you specifically choose not to have a TV? If you choose to go without a TV, what are your reasons? If you have a TV, do you have any concerns about negative effects? Are there any rules that you make about TV time? What are they?