I know all the benefits, just wondering whether there might be any downside to not having a TV, such as the child later not being as knowledgeable about or aware of certain popular cultural TV figures/shows and therefore being possibly seen as strange, different, weird, etc. and subject to ostracizing.

asked 01 Mar '11, 13:22

Danr's gravatar image

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The downside you'll run into is that, not being accustomed to TV, the child may well be glued to it when he/she happens to be at a place with a TV. I've heard of this happening to others, and I have tendencies myself in that direction, though I've managed to beat them back.

You'll have to decide if this is really a downside, though. If the options are being glued to TV occasionally while out, or wasting many, many hours with TV at home so as to be used to it, I'd think the occasional gluing would be worth it.

EDIT: I actually don't think it's so much the "forbidden" aspect of it, as the fact that a moving electronic image naturally attracts the eye. You're desensitized to it if you watch TV, but you're completely sensitive to it if you never do.

In our case, we don't have a TV but we watch movies on the computer, and we let our son watch some too, Pixar movies and such. This way we can still watch things, but we avoid commercials and have control over the content.


answered 01 Mar '11, 22:56

Kyralessa's gravatar image

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edited 02 Mar '11, 19:33

Well I still have that problem, I'm not sure whether it's really about not having had a TV when I was a child or not. I mean, my kids have always had the TV so far, and they're as square-eyed as me :)

(02 Mar '11, 03:06) Benjol

My husband uses this logic to explain his video game and computer fixations.

(02 Mar '11, 11:59) mkcoehoorn

I think this may be the closest to a "real downside" to not having a TV, it is human nature to yearn for the forbidden. (Not having a TV isn't really an option in our house, with 2 teenagers I'm pretty sure that my benevolent dictatorship of this family would be faced with open rebellion and regime change if I tried to get rid of the box.)

(02 Mar '11, 12:59) Neen

A friend of mine brought his children up with no TV and no video games. They had a TV, and did use it for the occasional family movie night, but that was it.

He did say that when his kids were over at other kids' houses, they really felt inferior at the video games because the other kids obviously had a lot more practice. In fact, as a kid (while I did watch a lot of TV), we didn't have any of the popular game consoles, and I do remember the same feeling. You could never have a "fair" game with your friend on a console because you just couldn't keep up. I can't tell you how badly I sucked at Mortal Kombat.

At any rate, that hardly scarred me for life, and I'm sure my friend's kids are doing just fine. However, I'm skeptical of the all-or-nothing approach (to most things, really). You need water, but not too much or too little. Half a glass of wine per day might add 5 years to your life, but that doesn't mean you should have a bottle a day (or none).

Studies about Sesame Street demonstrated that Sesame Street had a significant educational impact on its viewers... Additional studies conducted throughout Sesame Street's history demonstrated that the show continued to have a positive effect on its young viewers.

Anecdotally, while I was banging my head against the wall trying to get our 2 year old to learn her colours, she was busy learning all her shapes in the 20 minutes of Mickey Mouse Clubhouse she watches every morning with her breakfast.

In moderation, I don't see why the TV needs to be the devil that elitist culture tries to make it out to be. Have you noticed it's become trendy, when someone asks you, "Did you see that episode of ___ last night?" to answer, "Oh, we don't watch television."

On the other hand, TV watching, eating, alcohol, and legal medications are all things typically done to excess. I understand why the revolt is happening. I just think the pendulum doesn't need to swing so far each way.


answered 02 Mar '11, 20:07

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Scott ♦♦
accept rate: 10%


You have covered the points that I totally agree with. Moderation.

(03 Mar '11, 00:44) Emi

If you ponder giving them access to a TV just for Sesame Street, please don't :) Obviously I can't directly critique the "over 1000 studies" cited in Wikipedia here, but from personal experience, I always felt that Sesame Street was a bit inane and sometimes outright silly. And that's not only from my adult viewpoint, but also from memory as a kid. I enjoyed watching proper kids educational material much more (i.e. something that explained the world around us). I can't give you any advice on other shows though, as I grew up in Germany and "Sendung mit der Maus" won't be available to you :)

(03 Mar '11, 14:13) Alexander

I'd say, not really. I mean, sure, there is the downside you mentioned, but you will always have that "downside", as you don't want your kid(s) to see all the stuff other people's kids are watching, even if you have a TV. So even if you had a TV your kids will always miss certain pop culture figures.

I wasn't allowed to watch TV in my room for a long time and even when I had my own TV I wasn't allowed to watch stuff after a certain time. Of course "everyone" at school watched certain shows, which I wasn't allowed to watch and so I "missed out on them". In retrospect, I didn't really miss anything and I am sure I wouldn't have let my kids watch some of the stuff I "missed" either at that age.


answered 01 Mar '11, 14:42

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accept rate: 10%


So far my daughter hasn't complained about not being allowed to watch SpongeBob. And she excitedly tells people about PBS programming.

(02 Mar '11, 12:01) mkcoehoorn

No downside to no TV for a toddler. See http://www.aap.org/sections/media/toddlerstv.htm


answered 01 Mar '11, 17:08

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Asked: 01 Mar '11, 13:22

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Last updated: 19 May '12, 21:01