Whenever I end up playing the “tell a surprising fact about yourself” game, I have one up my sleeve that is guaranteed to shock those who don’t already know it.
I grew up without a television.
I don’t know quite why this is viewed as so unusual, but it always gets a reaction. I don’t think my parents realized when they made the decision to get rid of their TV that it would be viewed as the defining fact of my identity by my peers for the first ten-or-so years of my life.
For them, it was as simple as realizing that they were spending more time watching the thing than talking to each other, and that, with their first baby on the way, they wanted to be in a house where people spent time together. Some people might view getting rid of it entirely as something of a nuclear option, but my parents aren’t ones to do things by halves.
We were never short of entertainment
In fairly short order, my parents supplied me with three younger sisters (despite my insistence that what I really wanted was a rabbit or perhaps an older brother) so I was never short of playmates.
My parents built up an extraordinarily large collection of books at home, and Dad read stories to us almost every night. Dad, in a show of fatherly devotion that astounds me now, read every book we had or wanted to have before we did. This wasn’t in an attempt to censor our intake but instead grew from a desire to know what issues we were facing and what questions we should be asking. For example, if the book I was currently reading contained characters who died, it might be time to have some serious conversations. With a television, this level of awareness would have been far less viable. He did, however, give up that practice around the time that I started reading books based on Buffy the Vampire Slayer episodes.
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Despite the wide array of alternate activities available to me, there were definite downsides to not having a television
I was often left out of conversations at school, as I never had any clue what was going on in EastEnders, etc. It was something which made me different, which meant that the kids in my class, being kids, picked up on it as something that I could be bullied for.
There are certain types of cultural references that I just don’t get. I haven’t seen all the Simpsons episodes, I’ve never seen an episode of Family Guy, and I probably don’t remember your favourite children’s television show.
More seriously, I have an embarrassingly poor knowledge of geography, and a very sketchy grasp of current affairs from when I was little. I’ve only recently put two and two together to realize that all those who grew up watching the news every day have a significant advantage over me on these points.
However, I don’t regret that we didn’t have a television
For one thing, I think not being exposed to constant advertising and in particular not being flooded with gender stereotypes had an impact on our education. The four girls who grew up in that household all studied maths or sciences at university (although there are obvious environmental and genetic factors here too — my mum and dad met whilst studying maths).
It also taught me to actively choose what I put into my brain. When I was a young teenager we did get a computer with a DVD player (what luxury!), but every time I watched a film or television episode it was because it was something I had selected from the cupboard that I wanted to watch. It was never just what happened to be floating on the airwaves at the moment we got in from school.
As an adult I have spent time with my husband’s family watching sport (Formula One, cricket, and tennis are all popular in his house), and I love the communal atmosphere of this. It can be a great way of spending time together.
My husband and I don’t have a television in our home, although that’s not from any particular militant position against the idea. A little while ago he did choose to pay the license fee because he wanted to stream the Tour de France live on his computer whilst he worked.
Perhaps one day we will acquire a television, but probably not today. I don’t really feel that we need one.
Comments on The pros and cons of growing up without a television
This happened to me as well. We moved when I was in third grade or so (can’t remember exactly when), and my parents kept forgetting to set up the television…and then they just never did. We preferred not having a television around. My dad was IT, so we always had several computers, and instead of watching television when I came home from school, I either played outside, read, or (later) learned how to build websites. Now that I’m living on my own, I still don’t own a television. My husband and I will watch Hulu or Netflix using his monitor while we cuddle on the loveseat in the office, but I go days without watching any television at all.
Sometimes it’s difficult, like when I want to watch the newest Doctor Who episodes, but it can lead to good things as well. When the third season of Sherlock was airing, my husband and I went to a friend’s house every week to watch it, which made it extra special.
We’re happy without a television and don’t have plans to buy one anytime soon.
I wonder what it’s like nowadays. I’m glad I had tv as a kid and I hold my memories of 90’s Nickelodeon shows dear, but I don’t have one now and I don’t miss it- I can stream anything worth watching and I certainly don’t miss the commercials (when I’m around a tv now I realize just how much of it is obnoxious ads.) Without ever intentionally visiting a news site, I’m still more up to date on current events then I was as a kid thanks to all the headlines and commentary that whiz by on social media. I feel like the internet is a big game changer (books aren’t the automatic alternative to tv anymore) and I suspect growing up without internet in our society would be a major detriment, both socially and once you enter the workplace :-/ On the other hand, not having tv right now wouldn’t be that big of a deal if you have access to shows the web.
Totally agree that streaming shows has really replaced TV for a lot of people. My parents got rid of our TV when I was about 5, and when they finally got another one when I was 12 or so we never had cable, just used it to watch rented movies. As an adult I’ve never owned a TV at all. It was an issue socially as a kid for sure, but hasn’t been as an adult–sure I’m not caught up on Game of Thrones or Breaking Bad, but neither are plenty of my coworkers who do own TVs.
I don’t agree that growing up without internet would necessarily be detrimental, though. Not having a -computer- would be for sure, but I don’t think there are skills that are unique to the internet that you wouldn’t be able to catch up on in a month, tops.
That said, my daughter does watch plenty of videos on YouTube and Netflix. I do feel like it’s better than TV, mostly because of the lack of ads, but also because of the element of choice mentioned in this post: she is deliberately choosing what she wants to watch when, plus she is able to re-watch confusing parts or skip past parts she dislikes. It’s much a more engaged activity for her than the passivity that can come with watching TV.
I agree that the equivalent these days would be more growing up without the internet, and that the fluency with computers is a much more critical life skill than anything I missed out on from not having a television.
I’m torn on how much exposure to technology is a good thing, especially for young children. On the one hand, that innate understanding of how to interact with computers is perhaps best learned whilst young. On the other side, they need to learn motor skills and how to interact with people as well, and this is probably more important.
If we are lucky enough to have children one day, I suspect the happy medium for us will be to have their father teaching them to program from an early age, and a small amount of supervised internet time. I’ve had friends who are teachers advise me that the it’s best to keep computers that are used by children in public areas of the house (from a perspective of worrying about cyber bullying etc).
My husband and I are also without a TV, mostly because we’ve been bouncing around while house-shopping and now house-fixer-upping….Still, Netflix can be just as much of a time waster as regular TV….even worse, perhaps, because Netflix gives you fifteen seconds to decide if you’re going to get up and paint the bathroom, or if you’re just going to let the next episode start playing…..A TV at least limits you somewhat because often the next show isn’t something you NEED to watch, or maybe you have to wait until next week for the next episode to find out what happens, so there’s a smidgen more motivation to turn it off and go do stuff.
We had a TV growing up but our viewing was limited to 30 minutes a day. Maybe an hr if we were lucky. Movies were a treat for if my parents were out and we had a babysitter. I read a lot – pathologically some might say. So my vocabulary was an easy target for my peers to mock (though now I view my elementary school nickname “Walking Dictionary” with pride). Friends were often appalled that I hadn’t seen their favorite life changing movie. I probably I missed a lot of jokes. But I’d never want to trade all the time I spent reading. My husband and I own a TV set but haven’t had cable for years. Internet though we couldn’t live without.
I was “Walking Dictionary” too! We had a TV but I loved reading and tended to be the weird girl who read whilst walking. Nerd alert, amiright?
The dude and I sold our TV when we moved across the country (it had been a gift – score!) and haven’t bought one since (almost a year). We stream TV and movies on our computers, and we miss PBS and our VHS tapes, but so far that hasn’t been enough of a need for us to buy another TV set. I figure we might buy a smaller old color TV to keep in the guest room so we can still hook up our VCR and watch all the Crocodile Dundee we want (seriously, I watched it, like, once a month when we had a TV).
Related – growing up, I had a friend who lived so far in the sticks they couldn’t get any kind of TV reception. They had a small TV and more VHS tapes than I’d ever seen in one house. They didn’t watch movies very often, but I was completely impressed. They also had an enormous music collection. And the first espresso machine I’d ever seen (pre-Starbucks). They were also hippies who peed around their garden to keep the deer out. Needless to say I thought they were awesome.
ME TOO! Even my teachers used to call me that!
I was, “Walking Dictionary,” and, “Question Box,” since I was incessantly curious about everything and would pester any reasonably trustworthy adult with a bazillion questions, inevitably following each of their answers with, “Why?”
This describes me perfectly. We were allowed one show on PBS (though of course we often fudged this a little since our work-at-home parents were often too busy to notice who was doubling up on Wishbone and Bill Nye), and could watch shows in the evening with the parents if said shows were not “inappropriate”.
I read more books than anyone else in my classes….So, when I got grounded, the absolute worst punishment was to have books taken away.
We had a TV, but I was VERY limited in shows I was allowed to watch. Mr. Rogers and a few Disney movies/shows until I was probably 10. My parents were fundamentalist Christians, so think…I wasn’t even allowed to watch Sesame Street because of Count Dracula. Eep!
I would say that in some ways I was a better person for all the books I read. I love reading and had full access to reading materials from a young age. But it was really annoying as a teenager, and even now as an adult, when people quote lines or have this cultural understanding that came from The Goonies or Back to the Future or Full House. I missed out on that, and while I know they are ‘classics,’ to people in my generation, going back and watching them leaves this dull flatness inside. I watched The Goonies on my honeymoon in Cannon Beach, right where it was filmed. I was bored. My husband was reliving his childhood and all I could see was the terrible filming and the plotline that was subpar. And yet, I could step outside myself and see how awesome a movie like that would have been as a kid, and how the nostalgia would lead me to want to rewatch it.
My son is growing up with TV (er, Netflix streamed on a Kindle? technology baby!), and I hope that as a family we will find a place of happy medium between watching all the shows all the time and no TV at all.
I had EXACTLY that experience with Goonies. In my case it was my coworkers going on and on about it. I watched it and, yeah…terrible.
The Goonies, Dark Crystal, Labyrinth….all movies that others rave about, but I didn’t see until adulthood. Pretty bad fare.
I grew up in an area with a lot of fundamentalists. Many of them did not own a TV (since all that’s left to watch was the news and Arthur), so it was pretty common to know someone who didn’t watch TV. My parents let us watch TV freely, so it was always a bit disappointing when I wanted to talk about last night’s TV, and my friends didn’t know anything about it.
My hippie, book-loving mother only allowed us to watch PBS shows (and select movies) until about age 11-12. (Then I went straight to watching CSI haha and am a major tv addict now). I think in this age of technology a happy medium is needed. However, I do not regret the shows I missed during childhood and actually love all the free time I had to read, explore, ride bikes, use my imagination etc. 🙂
We didn’t have cable until I was around 8 years old. So until that time, I watched exclusively PBS shows. I knew how to use the remote and probably would have been allowed to watch other channels, but for some reason I always only switched between our two PBS stations. I watched *a lot* of PBS as a kid.
Then we got cable and I got all the 90s Nickelodeon goodness I could ever want . . .
But I never got into Saturday morning cartoons or anything like that. I always remember feeling out of touch at sleepover parties, when everyone else would be eagerly watching a bunch of cartoons in the morning that I had never seen before and didn’t care about.
I grew up without a television as well, and I’m grateful I did. When I was really little we had a set, and were allowed to watch Sesame Street and Mr Rodgers, but when I was about 7 we got rid of it entirely; sometime around age 16 we brought it back just for videos, no reception. I’ve only ever had cable for the 3 years I lived with a roommate who insisted on it.
I think what I most appreciate about not having TV, besides the amount of time it frees up, is not being exposed to the advertisements. Now that I have young children, we try very hard to limit their viewing, but when they do watch something, I prefer shows that aren’t commercialized (e.g., I’ve never seen Kipper used to sell anything in a grocery store! At least not here in the US)
Like the author, there have been times when my ignorance of certain pop culture has been amusing or incredible to others, but I don’t feel left out or embarrassed by it. I don’t feel like I really missed out on anything.we always had newspapers and discussed current events at home, so I was up to date on those.
I agree that there is a huge difference between watching something because you made the conscious choice to do so and just because it was on – although the nature of TV watching (with recording devices and shows being streamable) is changing so much, I believe having a tv will become a moot issue in this and future generations.
I think adverts were the second biggest reason my parents preferred DVDs to TV (the first being the choice aspect). They really liked being able to surprise us at Christmas and not being nagged for all the faddy toys.
Aside: I went into a massive Toys R Us lately looking for a Slinky for a baby shower gift. They did not have a proper one (the only one they had was a small thin one). The whole shop was almost entirely toys themed on shows or games. What is the world coming to?!?
I had a TV when I grew up however there were only two and I was only allowed 1 hour a day. So I had to choose carefully. There were exceptions. Such as when my parents would leave the home I would sometimes watch several hours of TV. I was also restricted as to the type of TV I could watch. No rated R, nothing too serious (most teen shows, crime dramas and animated adult shows were off limits) This resulted in quite the predicament when I grew up. My husband loves to find movies I’ve never seen and make me watch them. Most recently we watched Kung Fu Hustle and I loved it! But I had never been exposed to it as a kid like he and our friends had.
I can sort of relate: grew up pretty poor in the 90’s, and we had 1 television in the house. No cable, so about 6-9 channels depending on your tolerance for static. Also, the adults usually had final approval for channel selection, and it was never anything good. This was the era of gaming consoles and HBO, so we were woefully behind the times according to our peers.
I also had an asshat of a stepfather that used to ground me inordinate amounts of time for minor infractions. In our house, being grounded included no leaving the house, no phone, and no television.
In addition to getting grounded for leaving the cap off the milk, I was also a troublemaker and backtalker, so I did a lot of reading when I was a teenager 🙂
We had television when I grew up, but no cable, which left us with about five channels (CBC, CTV, Global, TVO, and a French station). It worked well as a child, but as a teenager I missed having stations like YTV and Much Music. My older sister also still complains about not having watched Star Trek: TNG when it first aired. Pop culture is a powerful thing, and I feel like we missed out on more than a few social opportunities for not being in the loop.
During the year after my undergrad my husband and I had free cable. We would stay in and watch Cake Boss marathons while eating junk food and generally being depressed. When we moved we made the decision to not bother with tv, and I don’t feel like we’re missing out.
That being said, we do still watch tv (on dvd or on netflix). I like watching what I want, when I want, but binge watching all of House of Cards isn’t always a great choice, even if there are no commercials.
We now have a two and a half year old, and I’m happy to limit her access to television and screen time in general, but not to deny it completely. I’m not overly fond of many contemporary kids shows and movies, often because the characters are obnoxious/the marketing is extreme. We have a vcr and dvd player, so Georgia watches older shows like Fraggle Rock and Wallace and Gromit, and newer things like the Pixar shorts collections. Not sure how we’ll handle things as she gets older, but we’ll find a balance.
While I never officially went without TV for any length of time I did find not having cable/satelite really beneficial when I was younger. For the first 17 years of my life my parents only had over the air channels (PBS, NBC, ABC, CBS.. Fox never came in). This was actually perfect in a sense. I spent a lot of time watching the news typically starting with the local stuff at 5PM and all the way through the CBS evening news (ending at 7PM). I really did enjoy watching the world events and keeping up on everything. Most of the time I would sneak in an episode of Seinfeld as well 🙂
After that it was homework or reading and I really didn’t care to be without TV. Even now, my wife and I recently got directv but I could have gone without it. I watch most of what I want online (very little) and I’d rather not sit through all of the commercials and whatever else are on normal television.
*waves* Fellow Brit who grew up without a TV here!
For my parents it wasn’t that they had one and got rid of it, it was that they had other things that they needed to pay for when they bought their first home. Later, when I was born, there was never any reason to buy a TV simply because a child had arrived. My sister and I grew up with books and Radio 4 comedies at 6.30pm.
As for keeping up with my friends, those 6.30 comedies turned out to be very useful. In the UK several BBC Comedies only appeared on TV after they’d done a stint on radio. The League of Gentlemen, Goodness Gracious Me, The Mighty Boosh all started on Radio so my sister and I were ahead of the game on those. However others such as The Fast Show and Shooting Stars were more problematic. They had LOADS of catchphrases and it took us some time to work out what our friends were quoting.
I think the reaction of people (Usually “OMG I can’t imagine what that’s like”) was possibly quite a good one for me and my sister. I’m not afraid to be a little bit different, and I think it gave me more strength to stand up to peer pressure when I needed to.
One perhaps surprising side effect of having no TV was that I was always interested in the role that it plays in people’s lives. When I went to 6th form college and took Media Studies as one of my A-levels, my parents agreed that if it became necessary for me to get a TV, they would get one. However such is the cultural pervasiveness of TV that I didn’t need to. Even only catching the occasional advert or TV show, or reading about the major soap storylines in the paper, the people on TV (real or fictional) would always spill over onto other media. And anyway, I’d been gleaning information about TV from other sources all my life!
When I went to University my room mate had brought a TV with her and since then I’ve almost always lived in a house with one. Embarrassingly I still have problems getting distracted by what’s on telly, or not hearing people talking to me when I’m interested in a programme. My sister in law used to write all her University notes and research whilst watching TV, and it is still mind boggling to me how she could do that. She passed her law degree recently, so it must have worked for her.
Since retiring my parents started watching box-sets on the computer and then decided that they wanted a TV. Knowing that they’ve been incredulous in the past that there are now so many channels, and so little quality on them, I recommended they get a package which included at least a digital TV recorder. They seem to have settled in to this new media quite well, watching on-demand shows and pre-recorded programmes as and when it suits them. I’m not sure they’ll ever really “get” some of the nonsense that is on telly though (Pawn Stars on The History Channel?!), and I hope that they never start watching soaps. The Archers is enough drama for any household!
*waves back* hi!
We didn’t listen to much radio, but I definitely remember the Archers! There would be hell to pay if you tried to talk to Mum between 7pm and 7:15. My Dad claimed not to listen to it, but if you were in the car with him at that time it would be on (“Just so I know what your mother is talking about”).
I avoided listening to it on principle (and still have no idea if it is any good).
My parents watch a fair amount of box sets/iplayer now we’ve all left home, but still don’t have a TV.
Funny! I also grew up without a TV and I have the same problem: if there’s a TV on in the room, I get super distracted and hypnotized by it. I will accidentally ignore people even though I’m usually not that interested by what’s on the TV. I do think it has to do with never having had a TV growing up and never learning to tune it out.
Another issue I have, that I now wonder if it’s related, is that I get really anxious watching movies. When I read books, I can handle suspense really well, but with movies, I just can’t do it. I get super stressed out and just want it to end. I try to stick to movies to which I have read the book and know what’s going to happen, or ask someone who’s seen it to tell me how it ends. So bizarre! I just don’t find it enjoyable at all. To be honest pretty much the only reason I watch movies is for an excuse to make popcorn.
I had television –cable and HBO!–as a kid, but I didn’t watch it *that* much. Even now, I’m not a big TV watcher–I just bought a TV for my bedroom last year after a long hiatus (over 25 years). I don’t have a cable box for that one, but I have a Roku and a Chromcast (and an antenna for local stations).
When I move to my own place, I plan to still not have cable in the bedroom, but I do want to continue having it in the kitchen. When I’m prepping and cooking, I like having mindless BS on, and I don’t want to have to search for it like you do with streaming.
We did have a tv growing up, but it was so primitive and we were very limited in how much we were allowed to watch. We never had cable, so we only got the basic channels (2, 4, 7, and Fox) and didn’t even have a VCR until after I was out of high school. We didn’t even have a remote–it was a turn-dial and we had an aerial on top of our roof to get the best reception for different channels (which you can’t even do now, you have to have one of those awful digital boxes). There are pros and cons of such strict limits too–while I appreciate that we had to find other, more creative forms of entertainment and play with each other instead of simply sitting in front of the tube, and I did read a whole lot, it also instilled in us a somewhat abnormal obsession with tv and movies. Whenever I was at a friend’s or relative’s house all I wanted to do was watch a movie or MTV or anything else that I wasn’t allowed to watch. Whereas most of my friends were like, “been there, done that, what’s the big deal?”
So now with my own daughter, my husband and I are trying to find a balance between so strict that we make it an obsession, and so common that it stunts creativity and discourages other forms of play. Which isn’t easy!
I’m so surprised you felt generally okay about not having TV. I felt horribly deprived of television as a child and teen. We were only allowed to watch 30 minutes here or there of public television. As the oldest of 10 kids, we usually watched Barney or Teletubbies. As soon as I moved out, I got cable. My husband came from a TV home and we have the TV on most of the time we are home. I don’t know if either extreme is really good or bad. Our twins watch a fair amount of TV. One loves it and the other just likes it a little. I felt guilty turning it on for them (they’re only 18 months old) at first, but the one who loves TV has managed to learn an insane amount of things from it. Words, foods, songs, sounds, etc. She’s very bright in general, but I do like knowing that she’s getting something out of the shows. I don’t doubt now that she pretty much understands all of it. In fact, we just got potty chairs yesterday and she immediately said “potty”, sang a song, and peed in it. I was floored. Whether she got it from Daniel Tiger or not we’ll never know. But his episodes are often potty-focused.
I’m probably more comfortable now with not having had a TV than I was at the time (I think I was mostly OK with it at the time, but sometimes frustrated. Now it’s just, meh, who cares?). I guess I might have felt a bit differently though, if the television was right there and my parents wouldn’t let me turn it on (rather than just not having that option available at all).
I never would have considered instant toilet training as a possible benefit of children’s TV!
Aside: I find it hilarious that I have no idea who the kid in the image that’s attached to this post is. I assume he is a pop culture reference.
My niece is 2 1/2 and is learning Spanish from watching TV. She loves to watch Dora and Diego, and she gets Sesame Street in Spanish where she is, too.
I didn’t grow up without a TV, but I did grow up without cable or satelite. We had the public channels, and that was it. I did watch TV growing up, especially Saturday morning cartoons, but TV and cable (and the cultural references that went with it) were never part of my lexicon growing up. I was never teased for it, even though basically every other family in the district had cable TV. I think part of that was simply that I wasn’t teased a whole lot about anything as a kid, which I am pretty sure is due to the fact that I am, and have always been, VERY tall, so other kids were intimidated by me without me ever having to do anything. I’m actually really glad that we never had cable, because it mostly meant that the things we watched as a family were educational programs like Nature and NOVA on channel 9. These days, I am very choosy about what I watch, and we (still) do not have cable. We get our TV online via Netflix, Hulu, torrents, and other streaming services, rather than be inundated with a bunch of channels (and advertising) we don’t give a damn about. 🙂
We had a tv (although the focus was on the early Mac computers, I spent hours with KidPix!) but I was only allowed to watch anything my younger brother was allowed to watch . . . so I watched everything on PBS in the 90s (with a few Nickelodeon shows) and didn’t see PG or PG-13 movies until I was in high school and he was in middle school. I was more frustrated that things like sleepovers and a driver’s license were ALSO delayed until he was old enough, because a four-year age gap is NOT justification for delaying the older child. Seriously.
Ouch. That doesn’t sound great.
I’ve been enjoying this discussion because I am thinking through the implications of my tv-less life on my little child. I’ve never had a tv (well, not since I left home at 18 – I just never bothered to get one, and don’t miss it at all) and I was feeling like I should get one for her; I don’t want her to be the Weird Kid at school who can’t participate in kids’ cultural lives. But I also really want to shield her from the bloody ads, the casual sexism and violence inherent in them, and the consumerism they relentlessly promote. And I don’t like the passivity of tv-watching; just sucking up whatever comes on. Also also, I don’t want a tv in my house, basically. I’m glad to see that most of the people commenting here who did not have tv in their lives were basically fine! I let my child watch dvds and look at online videos, which I choose and watch with her. That way, no ads, and I know what she’s being exposed to. Not sure how much longer I will be able to do that, as she gets bigger and more able to access what she likes without my knowledge. I hope we can stick it out…
When I was a kid we had Dish Network but it only worked in one room so my brother, my dad and I ended up fighting over the TV constantly. My mom got so sick of it she stopped subscribing and we only had local channels from when I was 9 till I was about 16. Since there was nothing good on until later at night it forced us to do other things during the day. My boyfriend was homeschooled and he grew up without a TV so we only use our TV for video games and local channels. It’s kind of nice to not be dependent on the TV.
I also didn’t have a TV growing up, and I am definitely thankful for that. One think I didn’t see mentioned here is that I think it really helped reduce body issues. For example, I had no idea that shaving pubic hair was a thing one was supposed to do until I was in university! All those weird body image constructions (like the muffin top, or thigh gap, or whatever is currently being pushed by the media) just went way over my head.
On the other hand, my sister has a lot of body issues right now (we are both in our 20s) so obviously it doesn’t always work out so well.
Your comment about geography is really interesting: I still have trouble with geography, it’s really embarrassing. I had never related it to the lack of TV but you’re right, there’s definitely a relationship! In fact, in the past 2 months I’ve been working in places that have TVs in the staff lounge, and even just watching the weather network had really helped me with local geography.
I am from an immigrant family and I’m really curious how that ties in. I would think that having access to local TV can be a really good way for immigrant children to fit in and relate to their peers… Whereas I was already missing that cultural knowledge from my parents, and on top of it not getting it from TV. It didn’t bother me but I definitely spend a lot of time confused as a child.
Overall I am definitely thankful I grew up with a TV. Unfortunately, the computer has replaced the TV in my life and it really bothers me how much time I spend on it. My boyfriend and I also use it to watch shows, which bothers me a bit because I would rather we spend out time doing something else… but what? I’m struggling to find activities for us in a way that I never struggled when I was a kid. Reading is wonderful, but we’d like something we can do together.
I grew up with minimal TV (meaning family movie on the weekends and an occasional educational program, but nothing else). The shock! The awe! It’s really funny nowadays to see the reaction.
As for how it affected me as an adult? Oof, I also have issues with geography.
We are raising our kiddo with more TV than I had, but with Netflix and Hulu (and other services available), it makes it easier to avoid IN YOUR FACE KID advertising and not just watch whatever is on. I like to think it’s the quality of a single episode of a show or a single movie paired with the quantity of play/reading/exercise that makes a kid the best they can be, but that can also be because I sometimes need to pop the kid in front of a documentary about sharks (she loves sharks) in order to get dinner done because she sometimes decides that she is cooking dinner and tells me to get out of my own kitchen.
When I turned 6, TV was turned off – not even local stuff and no movies home or at the theatre. I got it back at 12, but didn’t have cable until College. Pre-internet TV too.
When I did get TV, it was like ‘whoa, what have I been missing?’. So I have binge-watched all the shows I felt I needed to. I went to other extreme. My past-time default is TV (or book, depending).
Not having it either saved me from becoming addicted younger or prevented me from becoming immune to it. Will never know.