How Growing Up Without a Television Affected Me

I grew up in what most people would consider a “strict” home. Church attendance was mandatory, and good grades were expected at school. One of the more extreme decisions my parents made for my four siblings and me was to raise us in a home without a television. No TV in bedrooms, not in the living room, none in the house at all.

We hated this fact at the time, and in fact, if you’re looking for a way to ensure your kids get made fun of at school, the no-TV move might be the way to go. Classmates would bring this lack in my character up on the playground at the most inopportune times, sometimes accusing me of being Amish.

Simple pleasures like cartoons, football games, movies, and video games became huge novelties for me. I would go over to friends’ or relatives’ houses with the hope of technology access.

By the time I reached high school, my parents relented on their own rule, and I realized later that the fact that my dad had a television in his office at work may have tipped the tide.

Oddly, at this point I’m actually grateful that I spent most of my childhood without a television. I still haven’t purchased a TV for myself as an adult, although if I’m ever more financially comfortable, I probably will. Not having a TV contributed to my less-than-technological prowess, but it also helped me develop other valuable interests. My family lived in a small town, so my siblings and I learned to explore. Streets, fields, woods, creeks: they were all fair game. My siblings and I played competitive sports and even organized big games with friends from around town. And of course, I read and wrote and studied, which pushed me in the career direction that I’m on.

Would I inflict a no-TV rule on my own kids if I had them? I doubt it. I’m too much of a college-football-and-basketball fan, not to mention the occasional binging on The Wire, Lost, The Office, Friends, Mad Men, Modern Family, or Parks and Rec. My younger brother says I need to get into House of Cards. Like most things, TV in excess can be unhealthy, can prevent us from living a full life. So maybe I wouldn’t go as far as my parents, but I do think we need limits.

Comments are closed.