I’m going to start this post off with a lie. The lie is that we don’t have a TV.*
We are often asked why our kids are so amazing and smart. Though some of it is probably due to good genes, it is quite possible that much of their intelligence, curiosity, and good behavior is the result of our not having a TV.
When John and I married, we decided that we wouldn’t own a TV. We felt that TV was just a waste of time. We’ve stuck to that resolve except for a short 6 month period when I was pregnant with CatGirl and my grandma insisted on giving us a large spankin’-new television set. In our brief TV era we enjoyed a lot of PBS programming, including such classics as Bill Nye and The Big Comfy Couch. But after the baby was born we sold the TV to the neighbor and quickly settled back into our sans-TV lifestyle.
Yet we haven’t completely deprived ourselves of TV programming. Over the years we’ve occasionally rented TV shows from the library or from netflicks. For awhile we watched movies via a VCR hooked up to our computer. Now we watch via DVD. I think my kids have seen every episode of The Magic SchoolBus and WishBone. I can’t think of any other series that they’ve watched in its entirety.
There have been a few times that our TV-free life has been socially awkward. But now with youtube we can watch all the funny bits of most shows (and with no commercials!). And I’ve experienced many shows vicariously through re-tellings from friends (e.g. I feel I’ve watched every episode of Seinfeld simply through various watercooler-talk references and not through actual watching of the show).
I’m sure that there are plenty of brilliant TV-watching kids out there. And I’m sure that a TV-less lifestyle has probably hindered our kids socially a bit. But there’s something completely satisfying about the fact that my kids have wanted very few toys or cereals or any such thing simply because they’ve never seen or heard of them. We’ve filtered much of their media exposure and they are the better for it. I suspect that when they leave home they may go through a kind of TV orgy period. Indulging in such entertainment 24/7. And I’ll roll my eyes and tell them that I thought they’d learned better than that. But secretly, inside, I’ll be smiling at their mini-rebellion. And I suspect after the novelty wears off, that their homes will be TV-free, too (if there even is such a thing as TV in their futures).
*Full disclosure: We actually do have a TV–given to us by one of John’s coworkers. We use it for playing Taiko DrumMaster and Dance Dance Revolution. We’ve never used it to watch any kind of TV programming. In fact, I wouldn’t even know how to hook the thing up to receive cable although we get it for free where we live.