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When I was a child I used to have to go to my parents' work after school, and never got home until childrens' TV was over. I found it very hard at school when other kids talked about programmes I hadn't seen (I used to listen for facts about the programmes and then pretend I'd seen them). My husband would now quite like to get rid of our TV (he rarely watches it), but I won't let him - my experience as a child means that I think it would be unfair to my children to cut them off totally from the current cultural references provided by the TV, good or bad. After all, they have to live in today's world - plus, no child likes to be the 'odd' one out.

That said, I'm a great advocate of limiting screen time. There's a lot of rubbish on TV, and children (and adults!) should be encouraged to be both critical and discriminating about what they watch. (At Uni I went out with a man whose family had never had a TV, and as soon as he got one of his own he watched it all the time - it drove me mad.)

At the end of the day, TV is here and it's a big part of our culture, like it or not, and so our children have to learn how to handle it. Best they do that in a home where some discussion of what they're looking at can take place.


There is no tv at my house. With all of the entertainment available between the web, video games and dvd's, my kids are not being deprived of screen time. My kids and their friends spend a lot of time discussing what they've done lately in their online role playing games and not discussing the idiots on Survivor. I'm not sure that it's higher quality, but at least I am more capable of tuning it out when I need to and I find it easier to supervise than the tv at Grandma's house


My sister used to date a guy from a TV free home. They were in college at the time. All he wanted to do all day was watch TV -- it was such a novelty for him! My sister was appalled at the drivel he watched. We had grown up with a TV, so were rather bored with it by the time we were that age.

Sometimes the forbidden fruit tastes sweeter.


Well, are there lots of kids at school with a tv? Are your kids feeling left out because of tv talk? Even without a tv, my kids are amazingly up on what's going on culturally.

My initial reaction is....you've come this far....keep away from the telly! Maybe your oldest is campaigning, but do you want your youngest to watch? Amber might be ready, but is Raj? Maybe you can let up and allow her to watch more at friends' houses?

You can limit the types of programs, but you can't limit the commercials. I love the fact that my kids don't really want much at Christmas while their tv watching friends have huge lists of STUFF.

My children (and yours) have imaginations and lots of creativity and can fill their time without being entertained (well, some of their time anyway :) ).

It is also becoming more mainstream to accept some of the brain research about the influence of the screen on brain development. My kids (and I imagine yours) are incredible listeners and have huge attention spans, something that I think tv can affect.

Helen doesn't have image issues and doesn't see skinny girls with lots of make-up. She isn't seeing lots of teens modeling ideas and attitudes that she's not ready for yet.

As you can tell, I feel pretty strongly about it. There have been times when I've wanted to watch tv, but I realize how much richer my family's life is without it. I also know myself and what a slippery slope having a tv is. It's pretty easy to get into some bad habits.

So, there's my opinion--it's what I've come to want for my family and isn't meant to be judgmental about anyone else's decisions. Good luck making the decision. I could see us having the same issue when Helen gets to 8th grade. I may be eating my words....


ps. Now that I see the comment on-screen I realize how long it is. SORRY.


I grew up in a household with a television, but we were hardly ever allowed to watch it. And though I appreciate how much my brothers and I did other things and developed much more imagination etc, I do think it was a bit overkill. And it was hard to be the odd one out at school. And now, in my adult life, I watch too much tv, and I think it's because I'm compensating for not having any as a child. In that way, I think a moderate amount of tv might be better. I've decided that's what I will do with my own children. And that way you can model how to watch tv without letting it take over. Just my two cents. Good luck!


We used to be TV-free. Now we aren't. I would give just about anything to go back to our no-television days.


Ah Simmy, you like to rebel against the 21st century don't you?! Just kidding. I grew up in a house with a TV but we were never allowed to watch the commercial station (that's right, in Tasmania at that time it was the ABC or the commercial station) unless Dad watched sport. There were heaps of shows that my friends watched that I had no idea about and I did feel like I was missing out a bit.
I have to say my lot are TV addicts and Matt is always complaining about us watching something or other...but it's something I do together with the kids and I enjoy watching TV with them. I enjoy TV...I will constantly be knitting or crocheting while I watch, so I don't feel like I'm doing nothing. As you know we have a huge TV, and it dominates our lives to a certain extent, but I really do think it depends on WHAT you watch. The kids love the history and travel and nature shows...we probably watch more of that sort of thing than anything else. And they learn so much from these shows. Yes they watch the occassional crappy cartoon or banal A crap, but I limit how much they watch and when they watch and they are ok with that.
Ultimately it's your choice, but I think the important thing to learn about TVs is there is an off button. Plus it's really good if you can record what you want to watch to watch when you want to watch it...rather than just watching whatever is on.
Have fun with that.


Hi, I have been reading your blog (love it, BYW) for a while but this is my first de-lurk. Children are long off my hands but as we are also going through the "shall we get a TV?" phase, I am interested in your post.

Oddly, I am leaning towards getting a set in the hope of doing more spinning and knitting. I also need to spend less time at my computer as chronic RSI shows no sign of abating as the years go by.

The inclination is but a slight one. We peruse the listings and realise that there is little that we would want to watch and the expense (set, licence, decoder box, recorder) seems too great for the small potential benefits. On the other hand, the winter nights are very long and extremely dark in our corner of the world - there is something to be said for plug in entertainment from time to time... I suppose. The jury remains out, for now.


Those dogs are so cute- I'm thinking those were some very lucky children who got to make those at school.
I agree with the other person who said if you get a t.v., record the shows, then you can fast forward the commercials. It's also helpful because it prevents one from watching one show after another- when it's over, it's over and that's it. There isn't much to watch lately in the states due to the writer's strike and I'm really enjoying having it off more often.


Simmy can't they just watch stuff online on BBCiplayer or whatever it's called? You're meant to be able to see anything that has been on the BBC in the past week via your computer. Not that it's any different from owning a telly, but if you still want the label 'TV free' I guess it allows you to qualify.

There's a LOT of dross, but there are some wonderful things on telly too. I'm sure you guys are wise enough to know the difference and to manage the off button appropriately.


Simmy can't they just watch stuff online on BBCiplayer or whatever it's called? You're meant to be able to see anything that has been on the BBC in the past week via your computer. Not that it's any different from owning a telly, but if you still want the label 'TV free' I guess it allows you to qualify.

There's a LOT of dross, but there are some wonderful things on telly too. I'm sure you guys are wise enough to know the difference and to manage the off button appropriately.


I did not have a TV until I was 12, and I am amazed and sad at how much time I wasted watching it after that age! We have a tv now, but only because my husband is such an addict (he grew up with it, and still it's the first thing he does when he gets home, is flip on the tv and the computer). I keep it off unless he's there because I can't stand the noise, and I don't want our son getting used to staring at it. I really don't think your kids will be that bad off without it , but its up to you. I would say set definite boundaries, especially how much time can be spent watching it per day/week, as it's incredible what a time-suck it turns into without you realising it. Besides, have you seen the drivel that's on these days? Why would you want to be fluent in that garbage anyhow? Their friends will eventually start talking about stuff other than that crap, if it's any consolation to them now, and your kids will suddenly become SO! INTERESTING! to their peers (and their friends, and everyone else they come across). It's only a few more years, so I say hang in there!


oh yes, I also have a tivo so I don't have to sit through commercials or search through live tv to find something when the tv does go on. It's also made regular tv that much more disappointing in contrast. :)

Denise Ridgway

come on Simmy ... just tell us your news pleeeeaseee LOL
did you get my mail about the cheque ?


TV or not TV, that is the question! I would say give it a go. From what you tell us they are good children and it may even enrich their lives. There is a lot of rubbish on TV but there is a lot of good stuff too. I recently enjoyed the 'Cranford' series and the dramatisation of Oliver Twist. Just be selective in choosing what to watch!


All I can tell you is that I was deprived of tv when I was a teenager - and deprived is the right word, I really felt like my parents were on a power trip, although they were just doing what they thought was right, but they discounted my feelings and rights. It caused me a fair bit of misery. I felt divorced from my peer culture and left out of the world. I was also ashamed at having to go to a neighbour's to watch a program that was important to me.

I did finally get it when I was older and I barely watched. And I turned out okay.

I personally don't think tv is a bad thing, so that influences my response as well.


In my home as a child we didn't have a T.V until I was 16. I love watching T.V but I'm glad we didn't have one until we did as I would have failed miserably in my exams.
We have had a T.V whilst my kids have been growing up (they are 17 & 20 now)and it hasn't really been a problem. The only thing I held out on was that they didn't have T.V's in their bedrooms until they were 14. This did ensure they were well used to doing homework and that this was more important than T.V


We had no TV until I was 12. When we got one, I watched it non stop for 6 years before going to University. I've decided on a compromise for my children (only 3 and 4) who watch about half an hour to an hour (in the winter, hardly any in the summer). Here in Canada we have PBS which is commercial free (although often "sponsored" by McDonalds - how irritating is that?).


Good luck!
We have a TV free home here and I hope it lasts forever.


NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO! We are discussing going the other way. The kids watch DVD's & videos in Japanese & I must say it does help alot with language.
But they are still staring at a screen. Like I am now...Oh, I don't know. Sorry. Xxx


We have the shiny boxes. We have several of the shiny boxes. We hardly turn them on, and when we do, it's not to watch banal A tv, and I'm even an "A" hahaha. We have limits on what can be watched and when. We adore public broadcasting (this last week we watched a program about Sputnik and we got to see the Cirque de Soliel, which I can never seem to make it to in person--$$). And then we watched I Love Lucy (which is about as banal as we get, I guess). And then we use the box for watching movies. And that's about it.
Right now at my house? My kid is reading, and I am reading too (about you!) while I knit.
I have no fear that you and you family will deal with limit setting :-) I wouldn't get worried until the start asking for video game systems LOLOL.


We are TV-free and LOVE it!


I think that television with limits is a pretty good thing. There is quite a lot of valuable programming available to watch but there's also a heck of a lot of crap. I think if you set limits you should be alright and it might even open a dialogue between you and the children about which programs are valuable enough to waste some of their precious time watching and which ones aren't. Hopefully it won't become an issue.


We do have a tv, but we do switch it off as there is very little worth watching. Also it is possible to watch many programs on line, the BBC have a play it again for a week after it is shown on air.


It's certainly a difficult issue. We have a TV and it tends to be turned on when the kids are around but rarely watched avidly - more of a background noise really although if I try and sneakily turn it off Amy always notices. There is very little adult telly that we find worth watching but I can see from a 'young adult' point of view (especially if your friends are watching stuff and talking about it) that it would seem very desirable. I hope you can find a happy medium which keeps everyone happy. All the best for a great new year by the way x


If she's 14, maybe you'd rather have her home watching telly than out with BOYS :)

We have telly, but not cable or satellite, and it does not stay on all the blessed day like in some houses. But I find it a nice distraction when I am not with it enough to focus on other things.


De-lurking to say hi. I love your blog. I happened on a post that you wrote about children's books, particularly the ones you had as a child. I was a great fan of "the Family from One End Street" too and still possess my battered copy. The pictures still seem so familiar if I open the book - I must have stared at them a lot as a child. I realise that all this is irrelevant to your TV debate. My thoughts about that would be to get one, otherwise it might become a huge issue between you and the children. They are probably too bright to sit there staring at it mindlessly for hours and hours. Anyway, thanks again, for your lovely blog.


This comes from someone who was a single parent for sometime. I have a boy and girl(now grown). They had television and got to watch it certain times. We had to sit down and go over the shows they were interested in and decide who could watch what show, when. My son love shows about nature. Discovery and the Sports channel were his choices. My daughter loved Friends too,the History Channel, and later on, the cooking and fashion shows. We got to watch some of these shows together. They stayed busy with enough other activities that kept them away from the temptation at all times. If grades started to slip and I felt T.V. was a problem, it was take away. They did have occasional fights about who got to watch a show, but as they grew-up, they learned how to tape what they would miss so they could watch it later. My husband and I now enjoy watching the Planet Earth, and BBC comedies. I now have to have a "fix" of my banal choices too. Ha! I don't get to watch much. I am at work all day, but when I get to stay home, I try to see Ellen. She makes me laugh.
I think the scotty dogs are so cute but, I fell in love with the knitted kitty cat one shelf down.
I am glad you are sharing your talents with the students!


Your little stuffed Scotty dogs are sweet. Love the non traditional colours you've used.


It's amazing all the different views people have! we have friends whose tv is on ALL the time, and the kids seem immune to it, and others who control it and the kids rebel about it all the time. we have a tv, but have always said no tv's in the bedrooms, and it's amazing how many of my 7 year olds friends do...


I like what Ali suggested with the BBCi player. My kids are significantly younger than yours (my eldest is 6) and I hate the amount of nonsensical drivel that's broadcast although our tv is on fairly often. I never watch it, and my eldest really only watches Dr Who but I think it's one of these issues where once you've made your decision you'll struggle to take it back. I wish we had no television because I honestly believe we'd be far tighter as a family unit without it.

I love your Scottie dogs though - they're absolutely beautiful. How old were the children sewing them up? I'm wondering if my son would be capable enough for that :)


I don't have a real advice. But both me and my boyfriend (we live in different flats) have no tv and love it. I wouldn't know where to squeeze in tv time. I think it takes away time for moving (sports) and outside activities. I am glad i can raise my daughter without a telly and all that stuff that runs in there (esp the ads that make you believe things that are not reality). i think i have enough of addiction with the computer around ;-)
i am curious how you will decide and what the consequences will be.

i am very happy without one.


I grew up TV free until my Mom won one in a contest when I was 14. Before that, I never felt left out of peer conversation...plenty of other topics to talk about in this world, really. Once we got the TV, my Mom had "limits" but certainly wasn't home all the time to enforce them. When she wasn't home, I would watch all kinds of nonsense, some images stay with me to this day. We moved to Beijing when I was 16, and didn't have access to much (other than CNN). We have one now, but I find that my mostly TV free childhood sticks with me and I rarely put it. My lack of childhood TV hasn't caused me to overindulge in adulthood.

What about a trial period? Borrow an old one from a friend, give it three months, and as a family vote on it!


I once heard (or read) the average British adolescent child has witnessed in excess of 30,000 deaths on TV. I am a nurse and have witnessed less than 30 in my 24 year nursing career. That is what prompted us to get rid of our TV approx 7 years ago.
We have 5 children (18 months to 14 years old) and they watch DVD's and play a small amount of tame PC games. They are happy and lively and vibrant. They express their own opinions freely and are uninfluenced by advertising, (most 9 year olds can recall 400 adverts.) When asked by others how we fill our time, I am at a loss to answer because I cannot imagine how people have the time to watch all that they do on TV.
Occasionally I am aware of screenings that I would have enjoyed, e.g. the recent "Cranford," but these are few and far between and are usually available on DVD later if of any value (e.g. Blue Planet.)
The last time I watched Coronation Street, (years ago) a character was setting fire to a pile of furniture in the street. And the at a similar time during an episode of Eastenders, another man (Phil Mitchell I believe) took a brown paper bag from someone that I thought to contain a takeaway, only to reveal a gun on top of a pile of cash. In the same episode a man shot a gun at a TV screen whilst holding a girl hostage (if my memory serves me correctly) all during peak family viewing times!!! I was horrified but feel that you become inured from it when watching all the time.
I am not surprised society is heading the way it is. There is little celebration of what I would call "normal" family life on screen and I feel our childrens lives are enriched by not being exposed to it.
Read "Toxic childhood" by Sue Palmer before you make your final decision, a 21st century eye opener that should be compulsive literature for all 21st century parents.

Sorry if I have ranted on a bit. I am not a weirdo, just a very ordinary person leading a very ordinary life and my children attend ordinary schools.

Good Luck (whatever your final decision.)


It's a tough call for us too, but we don't have cable right now (which is the only way we could watch TV programs) We do watch DVDs and stream video online for some new shows, but when I visit my parents and see the load of garbage that today's (American) TV is, it makes me happy that we don't have TV and that my six year old still doesn't really understand the concept of commercials! But- your kids ARE a bunch older and I can see them making more responsible choices. Anyway, good luck! Lucky kids to have you as a teacher, I would love to be a student there for the afternoon! K.


It's funny you mention this...we are actually talking about getting rid of ours. Not the tv set,(we mainly watch dvds and videos) but having to pay for cable/satellite. We have the most basic grouping you can get - too many channels AND there is nothing on! You're spot on about A crap - it is!


Balance....everything in moderation. Your kids will learn from you anyway....and whilst it might be something 'in to watch/do' at the moment in two weeks it probably wont be. Dont stress to much...your wonderful parents and your kids will follow.


We have a tv but I wish most of the time that we didn't. Its hardly ever on now as both me and hubby have made an effort not to watch it as we realised how much rubbish we had got into the habit of watching. As a teenager we had a tv but I felt left out of lots of the tv chat at school etc because my parents were very strict about what they let us watch, and my friends would be able to watch anything and everything. This used to make me feel upset and left out and caused quite a few rows in our house. Maybe it might be worth finding out what your children actually want to watch and then use that to help you make your decision. You may find that what they want to watch to keep up with their friends are things that you wouldn't want/let them to watch anyway... I can remember all everyone talked about at my school for ages was Nightmare on Elm Street and other horror movies which were def banned in my house!!


Would you post the pattern for those sweet dogs? My children are gaa-gaa over them!
Thank you!

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