Considering going T.V. free?

See what our members have to say on the subject



I am seriously considering getting rid of it and am wondering if there are others out there that choose not to own one too? If yes, I'd love to hear your experience with it.

Replies :

My TV broke when my daughter was an infant and I chose not to replace it. We lived for 6 years without one and it was great. No fights about how long or what she could watch because it wasn't an option. My daughter is an amazing reader, though I hesitate to credit her TV-free early childhood for that without a control group and I know other kids who read well who watched a lot of TV. Still, I had a friend who didn't allow her son to watch TV until his enjoyment of reading was well-established and I think there may be something to that. Making it a fair competition at least between TV and reading.

My daughter did watch TV at other peoples' houses and she did become kind of a TV-zombie for a while whenever she did manage to get herself in front of one. I myself have no time to watch TV and we listen to radio news in our house, so I didn't need it but when she was about 6 I decided that I didn't like the way she reacted around it and I wanted to normalize it a little more for her, so we got a small one to watch videos on. It remains (she's about to turn 9) a video-viewing TV only since we get terrible reception and I am not about to get cable.

I don't want to give the impression that we are screen-free in any way, I have a computer which she uses and she watches videos and DVDs on the TV and she is quite attracted to screens. This may or may not be a result of her earlier "deprivation", I'll never know. Maybe it's just her personality.

To sum it up, it's been great for us and may have had something to do with her love of and ease with reading, but it's a little too special so it may have had a forbidden fruit effect as well.

Still, I remain happy with how we've done it so far.


My son and I have been t.v. free for over 3 years, and even before that never really made it a part of our routine. He's five years old. I asked him a few weeks ago whether he wanted one or not. I don't want him to grow up thinking how terrible it was to go without a t.v. because I thought it might backfire, and he enjoys watching t.v. at his dad's house. But he told me he was "fine". He really doesn't miss it when it's not around. Neither do I. I think it was on 20/20 (I was at a relative's house), there was a study showing that the more a child watches t.v., the more he or she wants to watch it. My son will not sit through shows. He'd rather do an activity. I think the earlier the better.

But then again, I do show him dvd's on my laptop. It's a convenience to have him watch once while I do things sometimes.


I was raised by parents who seriously limited my TV watching. Sometimes i though that stunk but as an adult I am sooo happy they did that for me. I was TV free by choice as an adult from the time I was 18 until about 4 years ago. When I bought my first TV I felt sooo guilty...LOL. I bought it to watch Netflix DVD's, then ended up getting cable, then got married and we watched it together (even though neither of us used to watch it much when we were single). Then when I got pregnant and was sooo exhausted in my first and third trimesters all I would do is lie on my couch or bed after word (yes we ended up getting cable in the bedroom too)and let "The TV Monster Feed on My Brain". After baby arrived and my husband and I were settled in our new home, we decided to get rid of the cable because we were
watching entirely too much BS tv (I'm talkin I Love New York, too much bs). You see how the Monster took over, it was a slippery slope, like an addcition wanting more and more yet none of it was really

and really didn't want our son exposed to TV since for both of us for many years we never owned one and were very busy (and still were busy in TV watching days but somehow found the time to let the monster feed), martial artists (hubby is pro MMA), reading tons of books, I even wrote and published a book, listened to way more music...

So we ditched the cable and do not miss it, not one iota. We do watch movies & shows on Netflix, and Netflix on Demand we ordered the converter so we can watch the movies on the actual TV instead of our laptops, we can view movies and tv shows on and of course You-Tube which has so much stuff. But mainly we don't watch much at all, we are very slow to watch and return our Netflix movies, we listen to lots of music online,, live streaming, check every morning instead of watching NY1 for the weather and inevitable end up hearing the news...bad news, first thing in the a.m...ugh. DOn't miss that...

Actually having to place a dvd in the player takes more effort then flicking on the tv with a remote, therefore more thoughts "Do I really want to do this or is there something else more constructive I can do with my time"? Usually my answer is, "yes there is". Unless I am totally exhausted or we just got another set of episodes of Rescue Me from Netflix...LOL

I got DS a baby einstien dvd and after I watched it totally regretted it. It is so many short snippets, just already preparing him for sound bite, video game "reality" which is not what the natural world is like. So then I went and ordered a bunch of Waldorf education books that teach parents how to play with babies and make your own toys and rituals...ahhh I feel better now.

We listen to more music, cook more, play with out dear son, talk to each other more. If you need another reason to 86 the TV read the book Four Arguements for the Elimination of television by Jerry Mander.


We are getting rid of cable but not getting rid of the TV because we – the parents - would like to watch movies every once in a while. I should say that Olivia, who is now 3, has hardly ever watched TV. The TV was only on for us - adults - after Olivia went to bed. So she doesn't have the habit of watching anyway.

And if it weren't for the fact that I DO like watching good movies - none of which are available through cable of course - I would really through the darn thing out the window. It's a curse.


I work in TV (making PBS docs) so while I have contemplated going TV-free, felt I should keep it to have some clue about what¹s going on on TV, though we watch very little (we have never had cable, both to be frugal and to avoid getting sucked into too much watching). Mainly, we use our TV to watch Netflix DVDs. Our kids watch no “TV “ per se at all, but do get to see DVDs on a pretty regular basis (usually a movie 3 days/week). We were pretty strict about not even doing DVD¹s until our oldest child was 3, though we tried to be relaxed about it i.e. It was OK to watch at a friend¹s house or if we were visiting family, since we did not want to make a big deal and turn it into ³forbidden fruit². Our daughter is now 2.5 and just started watching movies (we¹ve usually let our son watch while she naps, but lately she¹s been waking up earlier and catching wind of the movie-watching and wanting to see some).

There have been lots of discussions pro and anti TV on this list and elsewhere, and I think there are valid points on either side. One thing I do feel pretty strongly about is not showing TV before a certain age (at least 2, per the American Assoc of Pediatrics) though please don¹t flame me since I know there are BabyEinstein fans out there and to each his own. But as kids get older, DVDs can actually be a fun activity, and I do think some DVDs have real educational value (nature docs, Magic schoolbus, etc.) -
plus, the reality is, TV/movies/media are a part of our lives and it¹s very hard to totally shelter your kids from it without the risk of making it more attractive as forbidden fruit. The docs I work on are about artists, and I was struck by one artist who grew up in the 70s, who like me, watched too much dopey TV when growing up (seems parenting was less strict in those days), but she was so intelligent (hey, tons of TV might not turn your brain to total mush, as my dad used to say) and even found influences from that
70s TV bubbling up in her work in really subtle but interesting ways.

As for those who distinguish between the TV and computer screen ­ I suspect that distinction will dissolve as our kids grow up. I see it already in my work and obviously we all, as consumers, are seeing it happen. Yes, TV had ads (one of the biggest problems IMO of letting kids watch TV) but Tivo type devices allow consumers to skip them. So, I think the screen you choose to watch is more a matter of logistics/convenience than one that impacts your family¹s exposure to media.


We’re new to TV…we just got one this summer. Our children are 2 and 5. I have some thoughts that may or may not be relevant.

(1) Our five year old is immune to the TV and prefers to do almost anything else. Our two year old, on the other hand, begs for Noggin constantly. She’ll stand in front of the blank TV like she’s a pilgrim who’s
arrived at a religious shrine and is waiting for something to happen. We have TV watching guidelines, of course, but that doesn’t stop our little one from *wanting* to watch TV and feeling deprived when it’s off.

(2) Both of our children were watching Nickelodeon last week and my five year old came barreling over and yelled, “Let’s go to Walmart!” We were somewhat taken off guard. “Walmart makes Christmas cheap!” she told us. Leaving aside the fact that we don’t celebrate Christmas, having a conversation about Walmart with our five year old when we don’t even live near a Walmart wasn’t something we’d anticipated.

(3) Our five year old is blissfully unaware of Hannah Montana, High School Musical and other tween shows. Her 5 year old cousin in New Jersey, on the other hand, knows every word to every song. My brother and his wife have custody of his wife’s six year old niece, and similarly, she professes crushes on the teen characters. All in all, I think it may be harmless, but I am not ready to deal with that level of pop cultural intrusion in our house. So far, we’re pretty safe. But we live in this yuppie utopia where I don’t have to worry that my five year old is out of sync with her peers, because TV or not, our child’s friends are not watching teen sitcoms. If we lived someplace else, who knows? I still wouldn’t want my kids to watch those programs at this age, but they might want to because their friends knew all the characters and story lines.

(4) We don’t watch 95% of the channels we get. Noggin and NY1 take the cake in our house. It’s funny, because we have a DVD player in our car and the girls already watched Blue’ Clues and Dora the Explorer on DVDs. Those, along with Yo Gabba Gabba, are the only shows they ever specifically ask to
watch. My husband watches Top Chef. I sometimes watch NYC TV on demand. But our repertoire hasn’t expanded a great deal since we got a TV.

(5) Simply getting rid of your TV doesn’t insulate you or your children from popular culture or sensational news stories. Our five year old has, for the last year and a half, advocated to see Enchanted, Wall-E, Kung Fu Panda and Madagascar 2, to name a few. When Kung Fu Panda was out, she informed us that we could get action figures at McDonalds. I went on a news strike for several years, and yet I still heard every important news story from people I know, and some not so important stories, along with a fair dose of celebrity gossip. Not having a TV may give you more time for other things, but other people I know without TVs (myself not exempt) easily fill the entertainment void with the internet, which is even more isolating than TV in many respects.

If you don’t watch TV or movies, and you have an old tube TV that isn’t even going to pick up local channels soon, by all means, get rid of the TV. If getting rid of your TV is a social experiment, it may be useful and revealing, but what it may reveal is that having a TV (or not) doesn’t significantly change anything.


I am not a family of no television. I have 13, 6 and 20 months old boys. I will admit, I attempted with my first child but it did not work out so well. I personally like TV. So I felt like a hypocrite. I just want to comment on the families that don't have or allow TV. My 6 year old son has many friends not allowed to watch TV. They come over for playdates and are mesmorized with the TV. Just happened to be the same kids that are not allowed candy or chocolate. I have candy dishes out andcatch them stuff their pockets with the candy I grew up with absolutely no junk food in the house. My snack was peanut butter on apples. Which is good but when I hit school age. I used to go to friends houses and devour twinkees. I really don't have an answer except my 13 year old is very smart and excels in school. He loves his video games with his friends. He also enjoy movies especially slapstick kind. Much younger he loved TV and
watched much more but the older he got the less time he had for it. Now my 6 year old loves Scooby Doo, Tom and Jerry, and Wacky Races. How can I deny him that


I do agree that, like candy, if a child feels deprived of something, he or she may grow up and compensate for their preceived lack. There are studies verifying what Claudia says about candy. Children who are given absolutely none by their parents are unable to control themselves around it when they get an opportunity. If my son ever wants any candy or whatever, I almost always say yes. But he only
asks on occasion. I don't make it a big deal.

But I also want to reiterate that my son does not see the lack of t.v. as a punishment or deprivation. I gave him the choice, and he chose not to have a t.v. in the apartment. I'm sure he's aware that that's how I prefer it as well. For my son, being forced to stare at a screen would be the punishment. Sometimes he'll sit in front of the computer, but often, he'll get bored and get up to play or draw. I think this has to do with what he has gotten used to. Early exposure to t.v. makes t.v. seem natural and desirable. At that point, then it might seem like deprivation to take it away, so I think it does work just not to expose kids to t.v. early on. But if you like it, then removing the t.v. would be challenging. I find that people are quite attached to their t.v. I'm attached now to the silence, and I really enjoy that. If I really missed having a t.v.,then I probably would have gotten one by now.


Here is my main point - my son will often step away from the Tv and go do something else. We have whole days where we don't turn it on and some days where I feel like maybe we have had too much. But I have made a point of teaching him that we can watch shows, but then we turn it off. So its not something that is on all the time for noise. He has learned you can choose to watch a show or you can turn it off. I tried to teach him moderation in things. And we have some rules - no TV while eating, etc. Generally I followed a very loose "un-tv-ing" philosophy. Don't deny it and he won't want it as much. Fortunately, he likes to read as much as he likes to watch shows!


In my mind, it's essential that the children be involved in the decision not to watch TV and/or not to eat candy. I'll stick to the TV topic since that's what the thread is about.

My first step was that as an infant, would never be around a TV that was turned on. It probably wasn't until she was...I guess close to 2 years old that she learned about TV. I needed her to be still while I trimmed her nails, so we would turn on the TV for 10 minutes once a week. That was it.

Olivia didn't ask for the TV outside that time. Plus I never felt a need to sit her in front of the TV to do my chores because Olivia has always been good about playing with herself. So I reformulated my position to say that I want to prioritize her creative play and that excludes TV watching.

At the moment those 10 minutes once a week have turned into a full half hour. Whatever. I am hoping that that will make  her not crave TV when going to see friends who do watch TV. If I had it my way, I would be a TV Nazi, but yes, I am painfully aware that that would backfire on me.


I certainly understand the appeal of "going TV-free," but allow me to present an alternate perspective. As a sixth grade teacher, I have had multiple conversations with parents of sweet, lovely kids who struggle to make friends at school. One of the points we often get to in these discussions is that, because their kids don't watch any TV or movies, they are "out of the loop" in terms of pop culture. A lot of times, they find it hard to approach their classmates, particularly when everyone else is discussing some bit of pop culture that eludes them.

Now, I'm not suggesting that there's a direct correlation between hours spent watching Hannah Montana and number of friends, nor should there be; however, there is something to be said for having a passing familiarity with Hannah Montana, at least when you're eleven. I advise parents to consider letting their kids watch a little tv now and then, in order to develop their "cocktail conversation" skills; this way, they can find fairly neutral ways to enter conversations with their peers ("Yeah, the guy who won 'American Idol' last year was so much better than the other guy!") Like most parents, I don't think kids--or adults--should watch TV in excess, but I'm not sure a little TV now and then is such a bad thing...


Thought I'd weigh in since our daughter is now 11 and has had very limited t.v. viewing from infancy. We have always had a t.v., and we have allowed her to watch videos on occasion, but never any regular t.v. programming.  As she got older, she would watch t.v. at friends and family's homes which we did not
restrict. We did not want to make a big deal out of it, creating an aura of specialness and forbidden fruit. Also, the fact is that most kids watch t.v. and her limited exposure at other people's homes has allowed her to not be "out of it" socially.  She now has a laptop and she will occasionally watch videos and play games on it. When we are watching the t.v., which is rare, we speak with her about what she is seeing and especially about the advertising. She will watch a football game with her Dad, and we watched, for instance, the John Adams series on HBO and some of the Planet Earth series etc.

If she were to ask to watch t.v., I would probably say yes, but the fact is, she literally never asks to do so. It's just not in her repertoire of activities. She will do arts/crafts projects, play, or read and it doesn't occur to her to turn on the t.v.. She has a Wii and a PS2 (given to her by generous family members) which she loves to play on occasion.  I never have to worry about her spending too much time playing video games.  I think her restricted t.v. viewing has conditioned her away from a habit of being in from t of it. That said, t.v. is a huge part of our culture, and a powerful tool with both positive and as we know, negative effects. Teaching good habits and educated perspectives on t.v. watching from as young as possible makes good sense to me.  There are some excellent programs on t.v., and I have, for instance, rented videos complementing what she is learning at school.  I also want to mention that I have one child, and my friends who have more than one have told me that it's very difficult to not make use of it even when they didn't allow the first one to watch.