No TV Update: Three Years and Counting

Three years ago, my husband and I gave up our television when we moved overseas. At the time, I had no idea how we’d feel about its absence, or whether or not we’d replace it upon our return. Well, I’m happy to report that we love being TV-free, and have no intention of obtaining another.

In fact, we recently traveled to Texas for a family wedding, and during the five days in our hotel suite never once turned on the TV (we didn’t even notice its presence until the third or fourth day!).

Here’s a quick rundown on how tuning out the tube has enhanced our lives:

More silence. Without the TV as background noise, our home is incredibly peaceful. It’s much easier (and more pleasant) to hear the little coos of my baby girl without headlines blaring from CNN (I’d like her to grow up without having to talk over the TV).

More serenity. Reduced exposure to news (particularly that of a violent or worrisome nature) and political ads has led to less stress and anxiety in our household. We stay informed via the Internet, reading only the stories in which we have interest.

More satisfaction. Since our house is commercial and celebrity-free, we’re not exposed to aspirational goods or lifestyles. We’re perfectly happy with what we have, and how we live, and never want for bigger/better/different/more.

More space. It’s been wonderful to not plan a living room around a television, or devise a way to mount, contain, hold, or hide such an (in my opinion) unattractive device.

More focus. Without the distraction of a TV, we can pursue hobbies, conversation, and playtime with our daughter while being fully present in the moment.

More holiday spirit. Back when we had a TV, the onslaught of commercials—whether they be hawking cashmere sweaters for Christmas or jewelry for Valentine’s Day—would make me tired of the upcoming holiday before it even arrived. Now that such advertising no longer enters our lives, we enjoy the season and celebrations so much more.

More time. According to this New York Times article, the average American watches 34 hours of television per week. 34 hours! (I had to triple-check that to make sure I read it right.) So by not owning a TV, we gain more than a day’s worth of extra time every week. :)

I think our no-TV experiment will become even more interesting as our daughter grows up. How will she fare without Sesame Street, Saturday morning cartoons, or Disney princesses? (I’d like to think just fine.) I envision for her a childhood of playing outside, chasing butterflies, drawing, reading, and creating—even if it means not understanding every pop culture reference made by her peers. Even the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends no TV for children under 2, so I don’t think our lack of Baby Einstein videos is doing her any disservice.

Of course, and as always, I must add the disclaimer that this is what works for us. By no means am I suggesting that everyone should give up their TVs, or that you can’t be a minimalist if you own one. It’s just another thing that our household is better off without—and I’ll continue to provide updates on our decision as the years go by.

{If you’d like to learn more about minimalist living, please consider reading my book, The Joy of Less, A Minimalist Living Guide, or subscribing to my RSS feed.}

143 comments to No TV Update: Three Years and Counting

  • Dylan

    I’ve never owned a T.V. In college I had a roommate with a T.V., but then I went on to professional school and there just wasn’t time to watch T.V. After I had a “regular” income, a television set just wasn’t on my radar as a necessary purchase.

    Many people I know respond to my not having a T.V. set with “Don’t worry, you’re not missing anything.” But do they get rid of theirs? No way! LOL.

    If I had a T.V., I would use it mostly for doing video workouts. But now even workout DVDs are past their prime, there are tons of great workouts for free that are streamed or on YouTube so even DVDs and T.V. sets are not necessary for home workouts.

  • Tina

    We get cable because we live in a condo building where everyone gets cable. We sat and watched a show last night. We do this about 3 times a week. I also like to play along with “Jeopardy” if I am home. We were out with friends who were talking about Tv shows I had never seen and wouldn’t care to watch. When my grandkids come over we draw, do jigsaw puzzles or play word games. They don’t watch TV at home so they don’t watch it here.

  • Marissa

    I currently have a TV in my room, but since I can watch most of the channels I like on my iPad, there is just no need for a TV in my room anymore. :x I would move it out to my garage as soon as possible, but since my mom’s stuff is basically piled up out there with no room to spare, it stays in my room for now. To be fair, some of the bigger items taking up the space are going to be gotten rid of, but that will happen later on in the month which will be a good thing. As for me, I am just waiting for that to happen. I can’t wait to get this TV out of my room and reclaim some empty space! Lovely lovely empty space. ^_^

  • Tina

    I watch TV more in the winter. I have friends who have TV on all day. They follow daytime talk shows and those competition shows at night. I watched a show about tiny houses last night.

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  • Tina

    My grandsons, 11 and 8, are allowed about 2 hours of TV a week. When my kids were little, they were allowed very little TV. If you keep one small set in an inconvenient place, no one watches much TV.

  • My son gave us a Netflix subscription and he renews it every year. We watch about 3 hours of TV a week. I am in a US history book club and read a lot. We have 1 small TV. We also do the Sunday New York Times crossword puzzle. Recently, one clue was about the “Simpsons” and my husband has never seen the show. I knew the answer because my brother watches them for hours and hours so I had seen 3 episodes while visiting him. I think many of our friends have 3 TVs and I know they have big sets in the living room.

  • Evan

    I bought a 13″ color tv in the mid-80’s, the excuse was the Super Bowl. As time went on, my wife and I would watch dramas and mysteries and such, and of course, there came a batch of commercials. I would get up, make a sandwich, whatever, and come back later. “Where have you been?” she would ask, “Don’t you want to know how it ends up?”
    I then had to explain to her that this is fiction, not that great of a story, and there is no need to know how it ends, and I certainly don’t care enough to sit through the ads.
    When my son turned 18 and left home in 1992, I told him to take the tv with him.
    I still try to watch sporting events over the internet. Wow, the ads are repeated two or more times in a row (as well as shorter, “reminder” versions of The Same Ad)!

    Anyway, I haven’t had a tv for 26 years because it is a waste of time, and a waste of life. Also, the ads are truly annoying. I find it interesting that an advertiser would annoy me to get me to buy a product or service. I guess it really is all about the money. We live in a capitalist country that is supposedly mostly Christian. You remember Christ, who claimed that the love of money is the root of all evil?

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