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Living Without Television | Growing up and Life Without TV

Updated on May 31, 2013

Get off the Couch!

Get out and get active - why see a picture of something when you could see it in real life?
Get out and get active - why see a picture of something when you could see it in real life? | Source

Should I get rid of my TV?

In today's world, people assume everybody knows the names and plots of all the popular TV shows, but evidence indicates the rate of TV ownership in the United States has dropped for the first time ever since record-keeping began in the 1970s. This is probably for several different reasons, but saving money and increasing my free time are my main reasons for not owning a television. I grew up without TV, owned a nice, HD TV for a couple of years after college, and recently sold it to free up space in my home and time in my schedule.

If you're accustomed to TV ownership, giving up your TV may seem impossible, but, as someone who grew up without television, I assure you it is perfectly possible. If you would like to learn how growing up without television affected my childhood and adult life, as well as how much time and money you could save by ditching our TV, read on

Did you Know?

Sitting for more than three hours a day can cut your life expectancy by two years, and watching TV for two, or more, hours a day subtracts another 1.4 years.

Growing up without TV

First, allow me to clarify - my family did own a television. However, it was connected only to, first, a VCR and, later, a DVD player. With the exception of about two years when we had a satellite dish, we had exactly 0 channels, so it was movies only. My cousins actually grew up in a home with out a television. Period. And they are very slightly younger than me, so it isn't like they grew up before television existed.

Additionally, I was technically allowed to watch TV. On Saturday mornings, I could watch about two hours of cartoons or one movie, but never both. Unsurprisingly, during the 2 year satellite dish time-frame, I would get up super early to watch a History Channel kids program. Then, for years, I would always request the Jane Seymour and Anthony Andrews version of The Scarlet Pimpernel. Weirdly enough, The Scarlet Pimpernel was my favorite book from about third grade until...well, it might still be! But I digress. I loved The Scarlet Pimpernel so much that, when it was my sister's turn to pick the Saturday am movie, I would bribe her into requesting it, too! Needless to say, my bribing attempts were not so discreet as the Scarlet Pimpernel's fantastic deceptions, and my parents figured out my plan pretty quickly.

Cons - Reasons Life without TV Is 'Bad'

Honestly, I usually felt pretty left out of conversations at school. The other kids would talk about the newest commercials, hottest shows and cool new toys, but I'd never heard of any of them. I think I was hardest hit by this in middle school when Dawson's Creek was (evidently) the coolest thing ever created. Even today, I get this feeling sometimes, but I've learned to deal with it.

Amazing paper stars my cousins' family makes. This is but one of the really cool projects they do instead of watching TV.
Amazing paper stars my cousins' family makes. This is but one of the really cool projects they do instead of watching TV.
My TV's old home on the top shelf of my closet. Now it lives in someone else's home!
My TV's old home on the top shelf of my closet. Now it lives in someone else's home! | Source

Pros - Reasons Life without TV Is 'Good'

Where do I even begin?

Creativity - Growing up without TV made me much more creative and active. When I got home from elementary school, I would build indoor forts, climb trees, play on my swing set, design my hallmark "one size fits all" clothes made from my grandmother's fabric scraps, do crafts, read books - you name it! In middle and high school, I began writing and biking during my free time. I also made metal jewelry and chain mail and remained an avid reader. I must have been the only kid in school with parents that would get upset because their child was reading too much and not getting enough sleep because of it!

Savings - I have never felt compelled to pay for cable TV, and that saves me a whole lot of money. I hear coworkers gripe all the time about how they don't have enough money, but I know they have the premium HD TV package. It may seem like you have to keep up with "your shows," but if you give it up, you really won't notice after a couple of weeks. I know this because I did live in a house with cable and lots of TV watching for about a year. I kinda got in to a couple of shows and thought I would miss them, but I don't.

While the cost of cable varies form place to place, standard cable frequently ends up costing at least $40 a month. Even before equipment rentals, taxes, and installation fees, you can save almost $500 a year. And that's just for basic cable!

Time - At the time of writing, I work more than full time and am taking a double load of graduate classes, but still find time to be a responsible dog owner and have leisure time. If I watched TV, there's no way I could get everything done.

Great Books to Read

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (Millennium Series)
The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (Millennium Series)

I don't know about the movies (surprise!), but the books are extraordinarily well-written and translated.

 

Living without TV

First and foremost, I think it is very important to try not to come off as condescending when you tell someone you don't really watch TV. If you act snobby about it or like you think the other person is stupid for choosing to watch TV, it's rascally an instant way to make an enemy or loose a friend. Do I think there are a lot of dumb, waste of time TV shows? Sure. But let's be honest, there are also a lot of less than worthwhile books!

If you are accustomed to watching TV, it may seem like giving up your television is impossible. If you feel pressed for time, want to get more physical activity, wish you read more often or want to save money, I suggest quitting TV cold turkey for a quarter, or even half a year. Call your cable provider and cancel that expensive package with dozens of channels you don't watch and you will see instant savings. In my area, a non-HD, basic cable package runs you about $70 a month. Cut off your cable for half a year and you can save $420! Plus, a recent survey shows the average American currently watches a record-setting 34 hours of TV a week. No wonder people feel stressed and out of time!

Join me by turning off your cable, unplugging your TV and putting it some place it won't temp you and start living your life!

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    • the clean life profile image

      Mark Bruno 4 years ago from New Jersey Shore

      You are so right. I could go days with out watching TV because I try to use my time writing here and on my other writing sites. When I watch TV the most is not during the day at all. It is when I go to bed and watch Home and Garden TV. Love that show and watch it for about a 1/2 hour and shut it off and go to sleep. So I too wouldn't miss it if I didn't have TV.

      I have the least expensive comcast package. Like you said you only can watch one show or program at a time.

      Voted Up , Useful and Interesting

    • LaThing profile image

      LaThing 4 years ago from From a World Within, USA

      I am so glad you wrote this hub! We have 'removed' the TV from our house years back. I didn't want to see my children become couch potatoes along with other things. They are more family oriented, and interact with each other compared to other children in the neighborhood, and within my extended family. As you pointed out, I see more Pros than cons. My kids are readers so they keep up with what is going on around them........

      I am with you on this!! Wonderful hub! Voting up.....

    • Natashalh profile image
      Author

      Natasha 4 years ago from Hawaii

      I am so glad to find two like-minded folks out there!

      The thing that amazes me most about TV today is that so many people complain about how there is nothing worth watching, but they keep the TV on, anyway. Do you run in to that a lot, too?

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Natasha, I haven't owned or watched tv in six years and there is nothing I miss about it. There are so many other things to do in life that I can't fathom wasting hours watching it. Great hub and I agree completely.

    • Natashalh profile image
      Author

      Natasha 4 years ago from Hawaii

      Nice! I'm glad you agree. The scary thing is that 24 hours is average. That means for every person like us, there's someone out there watching 60+ hours a week! I can't even imagine that.

    • parrster profile image

      Richard Parr 4 years ago from Oz

      Hi Natashalh, great hub. Not having a TV in our home for over 23 years, I can relate to everything you wrote. It is our children that have proven the worth of our decision, and who fill their day with so much that TV would have robbed them of.

    • Natashalh profile image
      Author

      Natasha 4 years ago from Hawaii

      Nice! I'm glad you can relate and thanks for stopping by.

    • ImKarn23 profile image

      Karen Silverman 4 years ago

      Timely hub for me. I have a new roommate (grown man in 40's) who - the first thing he did was hook up TWO flat screens, and called the cable co. to order $200.00/MONTH of channels! I just shake my head over the waste and the (to me anyway) lack of priorities. I bet he never appreciates a sunrise or a change of season - unless it's on tv, of course! Stop by for a visit one day soon, N! I'm always up for unexpected visitors! lol

    • Natashalh profile image
      Author

      Natasha 4 years ago from Hawaii

      ImKarn23 - I'm sorry, I thought I was already following you. Maybe my terrible internet connection glitched when I hit follow before, because I just checked and I was wrong! I'm fxing that right now.

      Two TVs? That's crazy. I bet you're right, he probably never has seen the sunrise in person! But gotta get up in time to catch the early am shows.

    • DanaTeresa profile image

      Dana Strang 4 years ago from Ohio

      so great to hear your perspective on this. A friend of mine has a one year old daughter and she limits TV time to nearly nothing. And I have been wondering what that would be like for a child. I watched TV growing up and I value all of the educational programs I watched. I also still read books, played outside, did arts and crafts, and all of those other things kids today seem to avoid like the plague. My family also gathered together on occasion to watch certain weekly TV programs. But we were by no means couch potatoes. Now I watch TV occasionally. I happen to love watching Criminal Minds! I guess you could say I am one of those "everything in moderation" people.

    • DanaTeresa profile image

      Dana Strang 4 years ago from Ohio

      as is if I haven't said enough... If you guys haven't read this book YOU SHOULD READ IT: The Age of Missing Information by Bill Mckibben... one of my favorites

    • Natashalh profile image
      Author

      Natasha 4 years ago from Hawaii

      It's so crazy to me how "kids these days" are so different. Even people who are in high school now seem different and, I guess, they really are. When I was a kid, the Internet was still new and most people didn't have computers at home. In high school it was rare and really cool if anyone had a cell phone. Kids now literally don't know what the world was like before computers and cell phones.

    • HattieMattieMae profile image

      HattieMattieMae 4 years ago from Limburg, Netherlands

      I really don't watch tv anymore, and like you said my creativity gets more sharpened, i've chosen to use my time to learn things that are more useful that apply to my life to be successful whether it be relationships, job, or friends. It's a funny thing I rather pick my own movies if I watch them, or read a book, blog, or videos that are more positive. Tv has a lot of negative things on it especially about spending money that leads to debt. Relationships to many reality shows that give positive and negative. Leaving viewers with confusion on how to handle their own relationships. Tv can also inspire you to be negative towards others, or positive in other countries if the channel is biased. It has its pro's and cons and like you said.

    • Tams R profile image

      Tams R 4 years ago from Missouri

      TV isn't as necessary as many people believe. Since I began my blog and writing here, I never turn the television on during my alone time. Furthermore, I get annoyed when someone comes home and turns it on and leaves the room.

      I still watch a couple programs with my husband in the evening, but I've cut 90% and have gotten more accomplished for it.

      People don't realize how their emotions tie into the programs they watch and how that can cause them stress.

    • Natashalh profile image
      Author

      Natasha 4 years ago from Hawaii

      Thanks for stopping by Hattie and Tams. Both of you brought up the point that TV shows can cause you to stress out or give you poor models for ways to behave in your own life. Thinking about it now, I'm sure you're right. Weirdly, that didn't even occur to me, though, I guess because I'm so unaccustomed to TV.

      I'm so glad it bugs someone else to have a TV going in an empty room. People always defend it and say it's to provide background noise or something. Put on some music! It's nicer to listen to and doesn't have all the commercials.

    • angela martinez67 profile image

      Angela Martinez 4 years ago from Manila, Philippines

      Hey Natasha, writing about the pros and cons of either not having or not hooked up with this TV' thing well, I do agree that being so thus makes our lives more creative and meaningful. I didn't had much of a seemingly beautiful and simple lifestyle that u have, more importantly having a whole family around u sharing simple time and creative moments like u had, and i'd say that ur greatly blessed sweetheart. *huGs* Am not a tv fan myself but i wasn't able to do things worthwhile and creative during my younger years prob'ly because of my sad & lonely life, but If i had to live my life all over, i'd surely want to wish i'd have used or lived my life a lot more differently. Ur hub's just great!

    • Natashalh profile image
      Author

      Natasha 4 years ago from Hawaii

      Wow, thank you so much. I can assure you, not watching TV hasn't always made everything awesome. It has caused me a lot of problems, particularly at school, because I had no idea what all the other kids were talking about and, consequently, didn't have very many friends in elementary school. At work, today, I still feel left out sometimes when coworkers are talking about the latest episode of a show. But if I watched all those shows, I wouldn't have time for HubPages and wouldn't have met so many amazing people.

    • angela martinez67 profile image

      Angela Martinez 4 years ago from Manila, Philippines

      I do agree on that point wherein u can't match up to what's the hit or latest among peers Natasha...but even so, i think that doesn't make u, me or anyone else who wouldn't care less about being so updated with things and stuffs being any lesser or loser by the way. I use to hide out inside my shell anytime i feel not wanting to connect to anyone or the world, but having equal opportunity writing up our thoughts and stories does makes a lot of sense and meaning relating to each other...and building some kind of friendship even thru HB. Wish u advance Happy Easter (for tomorrow) n'tash..^^

    • profile image

      KatrineDalMonte 4 years ago

      Natasha, an interesting hub. When I was a kid we had no color TV that time back home, the market only just started to pick up for such innovations. It was not a problem though, I suppose what you don't know you don't miss, right? We spent more time reading books and playing outdoors than the kids these days. Even now, TV to me is a very occasional weather or news check. Since I spend a lot of time online I can get lots of info that way. TV to me is not a necessity, and I could easily live without it, there are so many other things to do and enjoy in life.

    • Natashalh profile image
      Author

      Natasha 4 years ago from Hawaii

      The differences between my childhood and the experience of kids 8-10 years younger than me is amazing. Just for example, it was still pretty new and cool if you had a video game system - now it seems like all kids do is play video games!

      Thanks for taking the time to read and leave a comment!

    • Perspycacious profile image

      Demas W Jasper 4 years ago from Today's America and The World Beyond

      When someone asks me how my wife could learn eight languages, I give a simple two words answer: "No TV."

    • Natashalh profile image
      Author

      Natasha 4 years ago from Hawaii

      Nice!

    • Vinaya Ghimire profile image

      Vinaya Ghimire 4 years ago from Nepal

      In the eighties, when I was a child, the only TV station in our country was limited to the capital city and did not transmit in our town, and I grew watching Indian channels.

      It is good to read about your experience.

    • Natashalh profile image
      Author

      Natasha 4 years ago from Hawaii

      Thanks for stopping by! Obviously I didn't have the same experience as you, but it amazes me now the number of stations has grown in the past few years. Of course, even longer ago stations stopped broadcasting at night!

    • wilderness profile image

      Dan Harmon 4 years ago from Boise, Idaho

      Like you, I grew up without TV, but literally without a TV at all. I can't see that it hurt me any and certainly encouraged physical activity and/or reading as alternatives.

      To this day I may watch the history or science channel, but very very seldom see a sitcom or movie on the tube. I'm just not interested in the non-educational programming.

    • Natashalh profile image
      Author

      Natasha 4 years ago from Hawaii

      I totally understand. Our TV was in the basement for a long time and I could only approach it on Saturday mornings. But after about 1998, even that faded out and I don't think I watched any movies (my family had exactly 0 channels from about 96 on) during high school. I have 0 channels now and when I move in a few months to a place, I plan on have 0 channels there, too. No TV definitely encourages other activities!

    • EuroCafeAuLait profile image

      Anastasia Kingsley 4 years ago from Croatia, Europe

      We were allowed to watch two TV shows a week, "Sanford and Son" and "Emergency" - except for that, the news and then "Channel O.F.F." as my dad would say. No regrets here, either. Thanks for a great hub, voted up and across.

    • Natashalh profile image
      Author

      Natasha 4 years ago from Hawaii

      Thanks for the votes! When I think about it, it isn't that surprising that so many people here also did not watch tv - it's probably how we all have time to write and read other's hubs!

    • Phil Plasma profile image

      Phil Plasma 4 years ago from Montreal, Quebec

      It seems like pretty much everyone who has commented have been non-TV watchers. I wonder if anyone who really likes watching TV would read your hub.

      We gave up TV years ago and haven't missed it at all.

    • Natashalh profile image
      Author

      Natasha 4 years ago from Hawaii

      Haha, true! A TV watcher might not want to read it. But I also wonder how many big-time TV watchers are actually on HubPages.

    • LauraGT profile image

      LauraGT 4 years ago from MA

      Thanks for this article. I also grew up without a TV. There was one in my house, in my parents room. When we were older, we were allowed to watch the news with them at night and that was it (except for when we snuck it on weekends). I honestly am very happy that I grew up this way and did not feel deprived. There were some lunchtime conversations I missed out on, but I guess I didn't really think missing out on Guiding Light was much to be sad about. Anyway, I'm raising my kids TV free, and hope they'll appreciate it in the end! Thanks for sharing!

    • Natashalh profile image
      Author

      Natasha 4 years ago from Hawaii

      LauraGT - Thanks for stopping by and sharing your TV-less experiences. I love all the feedback and stories people have left on this hub. Growing up without television, I felt totally alone and like I was literally the only kid in the world who didn't watch Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles or Dawson's Creek or whatever else. .It is so cool to know there are others out there like me

    • LauraGT profile image

      LauraGT 4 years ago from MA

      Natashalh: Yes, it's good (and rare) to find other TVless people. For whatever reason, I didn't feel left out. On the other hand, I think my parents made me feel like TV was stupid, so I really appreciate your comment about not being condescending about it and know that I'll need to be careful about that with my kids. It hasn't really come up yet, but I'm sure it will, especially as they enter school and start to wonder why they don't have a TV. On the other hand, we do have a projector, so can watch movies on our wall, which is cool!

    • Natashalh profile image
      Author

      Natasha 4 years ago from Hawaii

      My grandfather had a projector and we would watch old home movies together. That's so cool you still have one, too!

      I really only felt left out in middle school. We moved and I transferred in to a small school in the middle of the year, so I felt left out already. I made it through, though. Today I have a couple of coworkers who try to make me feel left out, but I just don't care - I have many more fulfilling, fun things in my life than staring at a TV.

    • phdast7 profile image

      Theresa Ast 4 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia

      Great Hub Natasha - When I was a cild we spent three years in Athens, Greece and there was no TV, wo when we came back to the states, muy parent put us on a 30 minutes a daty and 60 minute a day schedule. We accepted it and had a great childhood.

      When I had my kids we limited their TV , and once gave up TV for three years (those years were full of puzzles, games, projects, checkers, cards, chess---things you do with other people!). My husband finally bought a TV but we kept their viewing time limited and I think we all benefited. Great Hub. :)

    • Natashalh profile image
      Author

      Natasha 4 years ago from Hawaii

      That's awesome. It amazes me how many people let their kids sit inside and watch TV all the time. I can tell who they are when I see them where I work because most of the kids are overweight and flustered about being outside. My aunt used to straight up kick us out of the house in the afternoons. In retrospect, it was great and something I would totally do to kids.

    • Shadolyst profile image

      Jon Stoll 4 years ago from Burlington, Vermont

      Wow I couldn't agree more! Life needs balance. I grew up with a tv too, but like you, we didn't have any working channels. So it was movies or nothing :)

    • Shadolyst profile image

      Jon Stoll 4 years ago from Burlington, Vermont

      Wow I couldn't agree more! Life needs balance. I grew up with a tv too, but like you, we didn't have any working channels. So it was movies or nothing :)

    • MelChi profile image

      Melanie Chisnall 4 years ago from Cape Town, South Africa

      It's so refreshing to read this. I really haven't had that much time to watch TV over the last 2 months. I used to literally get home from work and head straight to the TV to "zone out", after a horrible day for a couple of hours. I thought this was a good way of coping. Until I realized that I still had all the stress from the previous day, and I was losing out on quality time with my husband - even though he was watching TV with me for half the evening. On weekends, I'd spend the better part "catching up" on series or reality TV. And then I realized what utter nonsense I was watching. No more Kardashians. No more Glam Fairy. No more Jerseylicious. It was enough. I think I realized how much time I was losing out on REAL life.

      I've now discovered how to manage my stress like yoga and meditation, my husband and I do other things together that we enjoy like take walks in nature, and I read and write a lot. There's barely time for TV these days, and I like it that way. Of course, the occasional movie or series marathon afternoon is always nice, but not when it takes up your life (or you revolve events around the airing of your favourite show!). This was a fantastic hub and topic - thanks! Voted up and sharing!! :)

    • Natashalh profile image
      Author

      Natasha 4 years ago from Hawaii

      Wow! What an enthusiastic comment! Thank you. I glad you enjoyed it and can empathize. I should update this hub - I actually just sold my TV!

      Thank you for sharing and the comradery..

    • profile image

      Chris Hugh 4 years ago

      Great Hub. I feel left out of conversations at work sometimes because I don't watch TV. But the folks who talk mostly about TV don't seem very interesting to talk to anyway.

      I found TV stressful and depressing. All the noisy ads, and the weird ideas. Drama over nothing, ignorance, and people with really weird faces.

      Don't get me wrong. I love Botox and Restalyne. I use them and even wrote a couple of Hubs on them, but a light touch is needed. I think looking at fake people is as unhealthy as eating fake food. That would be reason enough for me not to watch TV.

    • Natashalh profile image
      Author

      Natasha 4 years ago from Hawaii

      You know, I think I saw a study somewhere about how TV does stress people out. People get so involved with their shows they let it upset their lives! So people really do stress unhealthily about television.

      Thanks for stopping by!

    • profile image

      Giselle Maine 4 years ago

      I can totally relate to your situation as we didn't have a TV at all growing up, until I was aged 15. Yes I sometimes felt left out of the conversations at school. But I had more time for fun stuff. I loved to read, anyway, so lack of TV wasn't a big deal. I still prefer to read instead of watch TV, and I probably only watch 1 hour a WEEK of TV (yes, week) now. I go for days without turning on the TV.

      One misconception that a lot of people seemed to have (back when I was a kid and they found out I didn't watch TV) was they assumed I would want to watch just about anything on TV because it was a novelty! Actually it was the other way about - I wasn't used to sitting still for more than about 10 mins during my leisure time, so I found watching TV to be frustrating for an active young person.

    • Natashalh profile image
      Author

      Natasha 4 years ago from Hawaii

      I don't tnk I encountered that one as a stereotype, but I can see how it could develop. I agree - not watching TV makes it difficult for you to just sit there, passively. I also think it really makes you realize how silly most of the stuff on television is.

      Thanks for stopping by and sharing your experiences!

    • KarenCreftor profile image

      Karen Creftor 4 years ago from Kent, UK

      haha love how you bribed your sister :P

      Fantastic hub Natasha. I do like a few shows and movies, but I can't sit still and have to at least be making some craft at the same time. On the whole I prefer reading and music. Me and my mum are currently trying to convince my brother to give up Sky~ it's so expensive and we only really have it because he watches the sports.

      I also have a problem with the power of the media. Adverts in particular are so good at making people feel unworthy because they don't live up to the industry's ideal of perfection...just to sell products!

      ~Kaz x

    • Natashalh profile image
      Author

      Natasha 4 years ago from Hawaii

      We don't have Sky in the States, but I remember it form New Zealand. The specialty channels are always more expensive here, too. I still etch an occasional movie, but I usually don't like spending so much time on a movie unless I really want to watch it. The length of a movie is actually more free time than I have most days, so I have to make my decisions carefully! Thanks for stopping by =)

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