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

  • Jaci

    I gave my television up in April of 2009. I just got annoyed with it and turned it off. About six months later, I gave my fairly new (less than 9 months old) away to a friend. I have never had any regrets since doing so.

    In that time, I have managed to enjoy life more. I have found myself and find it wasn’t what I watched. Though I do occasionally watch television at work – just one of the things you do in a group home – I usually find it annoying when it is on.

    I agree with you about the benefits of not having a television. I have also found more serenity, more focus and more ME. It’s been a great and interesting journey these past few years. I look forward to more.

  • My favorite reason for not watching TV that you listed was the “More Serenity” portion of your post. Time of course is big as well, but by not watching the news, I find life is better. Television has gone a long way from Leave it to Beaver, The Andy Griffith Show, etc… It is difficult to watch the negative news these days.

    We have TV minimized here, so we can get Internet. Our cable company requires the bare minimum to get the Internet, so that is what we have. We only watch Netflix for movies at this point. You do gain a lot of time back in your life.

  • I gave up cable in 2009 because I was addicted. I only gave up my actual TV a month ago. I wasn’t really using it, so why keep it? However, I’ve been watching the Euro Cup (dedicated fan) and have been seeing commercials again. They keep playing this (really bad) commercial for Lay’s chips starring Messi. But guess what? I STILL bought some Lay’s chips! I think it’s good that I don’t have easy access to cable anymore. Clearly I’m not cured yet.

  • Nicole

    Just letting all those wives out there know, that there is hope for their TV addicted husbands. After a trial period of having the TV banned during the week and my husband seeing such a dramatic change in the children’s behaviour (more concentration, less fighting amongst themselves and no more whinging about doing homework etc.) he is now a convert. The TV now only goes on to watch a movie on the weekend or for my husband to watch Moto GP or Formula One. It’s a great start as he always had the TV on for background noise.

  • Henny

    We are 18 months with no TV, however we have an iMac, so we do have Netflix sometimes, and YouTube or DVDs. I try to keep these to a minimum, but my husband definitely misses the TV. He mostly likes the surfing channel. We are getting a house soon, and I know he is determined to get a TV when we set up our new living room. I am hoping we can at least have one that lives inside a cabinet of some sort, so I can ignore it as much as possible. My other idea is that we have a “study” which is actually a TV-room, and then have a desk and computer in our living area, but I definitely want to restrict my kids access.

    (Does anyone know if you can just subscribe to one channel and stream it to your computer? If we can do that with the surfing channel I might be able to persuade my husband that we don’t need a TV!)

  • Liz H.

    I think you may change your mind one of these days, as Plumblossom gets a bit older and you need to keep her occupied for half an hour every now and then. Nothing wrong with the occasional episode of “Sesame Street,” in my opinion.

    That said, I’ve lived without TV for many years and I believe the world could do with a lot less of it. But don’t let Internet become the replacement addiction…

  • Karen T.

    We got rid of the TV in 1996, when our daughters were 4 and 6. Before that time they had enjoyed watching Mr. Rogers and the occasional Disney video (this was the era when Beauty and the Beast was a fairly recent release). I don’t think they really noticed the loss of the TV — they continued to play imaginatively, just as they always had. I do think they created more of their own stories and characters (using dolls, stuffed animals, trees, rocks, etc.) than they might have with the TV. They had nothing to copy! We didn’t buy the plastic “popular” toys either, so their play was never limited to pre-packaged characters and situations.

    We also homeschooled our daughters, and I believe that helped us continue our no-TV lives as they got older. Though they played with cousins, neighbor children, and friends from church, they never caught the TV “bug” so many kids exhibit. And as they got closer to their teens, they were much less acquisitive than other kids, who are exposed to constant advertising and aspirational lifestyles. Because they didn’t spend hours a day in front of the TV, both explored other interests such as music, novel-writing, various arts and crafts, drama, astronomy, etc.

    Today, 16 years later, none of us has a TV. I never want to own one! We do watch videos occasionally, and my husband follows some major sports events online (like this weekend’s U.S. Open). I feel a sense of freedom, just as you expressed Francine. Good luck on your TV-free adventure!

  • Cheryl

    We gave up cable a year ago. I thought we’d miss it, but instead, we have much more “mindful” rather than “mindless” time to do more valuable things. We subscribe to Netflix, but even that time is limited. We you say about more peace is so true. I’ve always been particularly sensitive to background noise anyway, so when I thought I’d experiment with putting a small T.V. with local channels only in our living/reading room, so that we could catch the news and an occasional “oldie” T.V. program, I found the constant barrage of ads and steady noise unbearable—that experiment lasted only until the next morning, when I yanked the ugly little boob tube from its perch, never to return!!!

  • We do still own a TV (2 actually) but we turned off the cable several months ago and have never missed it for a minute. It was one of the best decisions I have made to date.

  • Rob

    My parents had dinner in front of the tube growing up and we decided not to do that. We tried for years to moderate TV viewing … by hours, only PBS, etc. but could not help ourselves … we could get 40hour of watching in Fri to Sun under our weekend restriction plan … so we just got rid of the drug 20 years ago … my girls are in college now and used all that time to read … their vocabulary is amazing since reading is the basis for writing and SAT verbal … the downside, they really do poorly at the TV trivia questions when we go to folks home for parties and had to make due when a school assignment required watching some show … oh, and my daughter got stumped once in a “beauty contest” when they asked her what her favorite TV show was …. well, the new challenge has moved to facebook and the internet and I have no advice for new parents than they are probably as bad as the old TV.

  • We have a TV but no cable and no satellite, etc. we can only get about 7 channels via antennae. Personally I rarely turn it on. When I do it’s usually for other people. I love the quiet without a TV blaring. When I go to someone’s home where the TV is on I can’t even think! It’s always so loud!! I don’t get it. And I find it rude that just about everyone leaves it on when you come in. I feel like I can’t really visit with someone with all the racket.
    We have twin girls who are almost 3. So we have control over what and when they watch TV at home anyway. But when my older daughter is home she also can’t watch anything questionable because it’s just not available! I never have to worry that she’ll stumble over something inappropriate. Instead we have a library of horse based movies, Little House, the Walton’s and some cartoons that are allowable. Personally I could live with no TV at all but my husband doesn’t agree with that. Living in an area that doesn’t allow us to have free access to a million channels of nothing is a blessing to me! I hope one day my husband agrees too-he wants our next home to be in a cable ready area! So I’ll enjoy this while it lasts!!

  • And BTW I have a friend with 9 kids who has never had cable and not even an antennae. Her children are just great without it!!

  • I lived tv-free for many years and LOVED it. Now that I’m married, my husband enjoys having a television for news and sports, so I spend much more time watching television.

    While I miss the quiet evenings, going back to tv-life isn’t all bad. Before, I only knew what my governor sounded like (thanks to public radio). Now I would also recognize him on the street. ;)

  • Nicole

    We have been TV free for close to two years and have two children now aged 9 and 6. We love it. However we also love movie night and DVDs for sick days when kids can’t sleep but don’t have enough energy to play quietly. We keep a tv under the spare bed :) and bring it out every fortnight for movie night. And if any of my children are quite sick but not sleeping – which often happens with bad coughs and runny noses they enjoy watching movies too. So Ms Francine I would keep a TV in mind for movie nights when PB is old enough – there are so many great movies out there. My 9 year old loves sea creatures of all kinds and our last movie was Mr Popper’s Penguins. Was a big hit!
    PS I also do movie nights with friends when they come over and watch old black and whites with me. Anything James Stewart or Ingrid Bergman is a good start.

    • Jessica

      Favorite DVDs for my TV-less daughter:
      All the leap frog videos (they helped teach my daughter all the letter sounds)
      All the Meet the sight words, numbers, letters, digraphs, etc… videos (they helped prepare my daughter for kindergarten, she was not in preschool)
      All the Little Einstein videos (my daughter was singing classical music tunes almost out of the cradle. We would tell her “diminuendo” to get her to quite down in restaurants.)

      We also enjoyed showing her Kipper, Clifford the big red dog, Fantasia, Alice in Wonderland, and Anime such as Castle in the sky, Howls moving castle, Spirited away, Ponyo, etc…

      It may seem strange to have a video list, but movies and videos are of worth. It’s the unfiltered and unchecked inflow of questionable messages flowing from a box that I have objection to. A good movie or show can be the same caliber as a good book.

  • Gaby

    I rarely watch TV, even though I have one. I don’t know why, but I just don’t feel like it. I used to watch more TV when I was living with my sister and when I visit her she usually presses me to watch some shows she’s downloaded off the Internet. To be honest, I wish she’d converse with me more. I feel like it’s a waste of time visiting her if we’re ignoring each other the whole time in front of a screen, but she really gets a kick out of these shows so I watch them just to humour her as I know she feels she’s sharing something special with me.

    My dad is a news addict and I can’t stand how depressed & helpless it makes me feel. I know it’s important to be informed but I’d rather quietly read an intelligent article in an independent newspaper than have sensationalistic stuff blared at me (dad’s hard of hearing). He watches one hour of 5pm news followed by the 6pm news, followed by the 6:30pm news, followed by the 7pm news, followed by a 7:30pm current affairs show and also reads the news online. I think that’s rather excessive. The same stuff gets repeated over and over again, often for days, sometimes even weeks or months if it’s a hot news item. It’s nauseating.

    My mum used to use TV as company when she was alone all day as a housewife in the 80s and she has maintained the habit. She rarely turns it on in the mornings but at about 2pm in the afternoon, on it goes, and she’ll watch any bland pap.

    Thankfully, I don’t live with my parents.

    As a kid I used to watch about 36 hrs per week. (In Grade 3 our teacher asked us to monitor how much we watched, and I seem to recall, that’s the number I came up with. My friend & desk buddy watched only 18hrs per week and she made fun of me, so it was at this tender age I realised I watched too much). It was a habit to turn on the TV as soon as I got home from school and keep watching until bed at 9pm. But during the vacation periods, this routine was disrupted and I would often forget about TV & play with my toys all day, ride my bike or roller skate with my brother & sister instead.

    I got mostly As & Bs in school. Make of that what you will…

    • Gaby

      About the importance of being informed… often the most important news is communicated to me by other people, that is, the stuff that actually affects me. If I didn’t know there was a civil war in Sri Lanka until I read about it in a book about 10 years later and that makes me ignorant, well so be it. Of course, if I were about to travel to a war-torn country, my parents would be the first to let me know, but there are government services for checking on that kind of thing anyway.

      And another thing I don’t miss about TV is that I used to feel abnormal being long-term single, because people on TV are always hooking up (and they’re also much better looking and well dressed too!) Now that I hardly watch TV I don’t angst about that any more.

    • olena

      Gaby, I completely agree with you on all accounts. My boyfriend’s parents watch TV all the time, and whehever I visit them, my mood deteriorates.

      I, too, get news from coworkers or my boyfriend.

      My boyfiend doesn’t have cable channels, but he does watch news and some PBS programs. He will be moving in with me soon, and having TV in the living room will make me very unhappy. How do you deal with this problem – when your partner likes TV and you don’t?

  • Kellie

    We still have satellite television because of sports and my family likes to watch the History Channel, Science Channel and Turner Classic Movies. That’s about it – a few programs we like but we hate the fact that there are hundreds of channels with nothing but garbage. Once we have met our contract commitment with the satellite company we will probably drop everything.

  • Clare

    Whenever I read PB I mentaly add on “& J”…

    I don’t think a child’s creativity is negatively impacted by TV unless they watch a lot of it. Sometimes it is an aid. As a child I took the characters and occasionally the settings and whould dream up whole new stories involving them. I read a lot too, but am a visual person and like having a starting point for my daydreams. My sister and I watched a 2 to 10 hours a week of TV. We didn’t have cable, so it was mostly PBS, except when I watched Power Rangers. I think the important thing is to have plenty of other outlets for children to be creative with in addition to or instead of the TV. I had playdough, chalk, and an art bin, My Little Ponies, Tinker Toys, Barbies, Beanie Babies, and a large backyard to play in. BTW, my sister and I were never hurt by Disney Princesses or Barbies in moderation, so I would say there is no need to consiously deny PB these things as she gets older (even though you may not buy her a Barbie, a few from relatives won’t hurt). Any concern I had with my body image arose from the way it was talked about by other girls in school, not what I played with.

    I currently watch 20 min to an hour or so of anime a day on the computer. Most anime is divided into 20 minute episodes, and I find it hard to sit for longer than that. I agree that many cultural references are gained by listening to other people talk about them, otherwise I would miss a lot of pop culture! I do remember being slightly traumatized by a show my grandparents were watching on TV when I was younger (true crime or something) and I hate it when they watch it when I visit, it is so depressing!

  • Lykke

    I grew up without a TV, and honestly, I didn’t miss it at all. What did irritate mostly me were all the stupid comments people made when they found out you didn’t have a TV: ‘Oh, no TV, really?! But… then what do you do in the evenings? Or at the weekends?’ Yeah, like I don’t have anything to do without a tv. I was never bored, I liked to read, to cook, to play. I had (and still have) lots to do and never felt like I was missing out, because we didn’t have a TV. Another comment that a lot of people made was: ‘No TV?! Wow, you must be really christian then..’ Ehm, nope, sorry. Or: ‘But, don’t you feel like you’re missing out? I mean, you never discover something new.’ Yeah right, because you discover something ‘new’ when you’re watching it at the same time as 3 million other people…
    I never felt like missing out, not when I was a kid, and nowadays I still don’t feel like I’m missing out. I do watch movies (thanks to internet, rental stores, etc. etc.), and thankfully a lot of very interesting documentary films are available online. I like watching those, so when I find something interesting I can still watch it, without having a television.
    So I don’t think you should be worried about your child growing up without a TV. If there’s something you like her to watch, or she wants to watch you can almost always find it online. Or you can buy the DVD, or whatever. Especially with the current technologies there are so many possibilities, that having no TV is not a problem at all.

    By the way, I am 21 years old. My parents got rid of the TV when I was 2 years old, so I really don’t remember having a TV. I started living on my own two years ago. I still haven’t bought a TV myself and I still don’t miss it. There hasn’t been a single moment when I thought: ‘Oh bummer, a TV would be absolutely necessary right now’.

    (My apologies if something isn’t very clearly explained or if there are any mistakes in my comment. English isn’t my first language, so it’s a little bit hard sometimes to explain exactly what I feel and want to say)

  • I’d love to be TV free! Well, the idea of it definitely appeals to me anyway. I use my husband as an excuse. But, really, even if he said, “Alright, lets sell the TV” I’d probably object.

  • Kat

    I admire your stance on not having a television while raising your daughter. My parents didn’t own a television at all while I was growing up which didn’t make us out-casts but certainly was considered abnormal and different by everyone’s standards around us. I have fond memories of the creative play times I had with my brother and sister that involved healthy outdoor activity, board games and more. I didn’t feel deprived without a television and only felt it’s absence when friends would comment on the latest thing they saw on T.V. I am still without T.V. even now in my 30’s. My sister liked the notion so much that she and her husband are now raising their children without T.V. The quality family time and fresh air they get by not sitting in front of a television is priceless. Not to mention a relaxing living room free from clutter! Keep it up!

  • Zac

    Giving up T.V. has always seemed like a no brainer to me. I haven’t watched it much over the past 7 years. I am a sucker for the internet though. That and sports. I recently started thinking about my sports/politics media consumption after reading this article here and it made me re-evaluate the fact that I “don’t watch T.V.”. Watching youtube videos and shows you download on to your computer is the same thing. If you are trying to cut down on T.V. Try and cut down on both of those things as well.

  • Megan

    I can’t believe the timing of this post as i have been recently dreaming of giving up tv, i’m tired of the rubbish and the background noise all day (im a stay at home mum) with home business. I totally agree with serenity when its not on! Only thing is that my husband loves the tv so its on till bedtime. Recently he was going to buy a bigger better tv when he decided to ask my thoughts i told him i would like to have more quality family time doing other things rather than focus around the tv. Thanks Nicole for letting me know there is hope for the addicted husbands, we’l see how it goes!

  • Angela K. Marvin

    Great post, as always. I gave up cable in January and other than “Mad Men” and, um, a show on Bravo which shall remain nameless, I don’t really miss anything. (I’m actually able to catch “MM” and the other show at my mother’s house; she still has cable.) I work full-time, attend night classes for grad school, and have a 15-20 hour/week practicum, so I don’t have a lot of time for TV anyway. Still, I find myself sometimes enjoying the background noise, and I do like to get movies from the library. (I live alone.)

    All that said, I feel some guilt about the TV I DO watch. I think I may try an experiment: for one week, I will write down everything I watch and the time spent doing so, TV OR movies. I’m quite sure it wouldn’t be 34 hours, but I still think the number will surprise me.

    So thank you for a post that has inspired me once again!

  • Jessica

    We have been TV free for about 12 years of our 13 year marriage. I had TV withdrawal for the first year. I grew up in a household with a TV on in every room on different channels 24/7 and my father worked for a TV Station in Washington DC all of my childhood. I was taught from an early age to judge media critically and try to figure out what a tv show or commercial was really trying to sell me (either product or idea). I was taught to judge the news too, since it is really not news at all but a money making machine for news station owners. Even though we do not have a TV, when my daughter gets a little older, I want to expose her to the worst of TV to teach her how to look at media critically. But for now she only sees some netfix and videos.

    My husband and I were just talking the other day about how she never sees commercials or even hears them on the radio (we have satellite radio in the car). She will not grow up associating “I am lovin it!” with McDonalds, she has no idea who Ronald McDonald even is. “Taste the rainbow”, “Snap crackle pop”, “always low prices”, they all mean nothing to her. I hadn’t realized until now that we have almost completely stopped the floodgate of manipulative marketing aimed at my child. We hadn’t thought about it since we were living like that way before she was born.

    Marketing for everything from vaccinations at the local pharmacy to free magazines full of stuff for parents to buy, come home in her school folder. The last thing I need is to be dealing with is a deepwater horizon oil spill of commercials flooding my home with it’s oily messages and making a mess of our parenting and life.

  • Kathleen

    I haven’t had a TV for 5 years and didn’t have cable for 2 years prior to that. I don’t miss it at all. The peace from the constant news sensations and commercials is fantastic. However, I do watch some TV programs on the interent. And I do spend a great deal of time reading things on the internet (some totally useless things) so my time isn’t always spent in pursuit of something more noble than TV. I think the entertainment value of some TV is perfectly fine minus the news, commercials and political ads which the internet allows in many instances. My son hasn’t had a TV since he was 15 and rarely watches anything on the internet except some movies. However he was bitten by the video game bug so his “addiction” is that.

  • Growing up, we didn’t have a TV. Well more specifically, we didn’t have a way to receive TV signals. We DID have a screen that we could watch videos (actual VHS cassettes – you’ll never have the experience of your daughter putting random objects into the VHS player or pulling all of the tape out of a cassette!)

    I didn’t mind not having a TV, but as I got older (~8?) I noticed the other kids talking about things that I didn’t understand, such as The Simpsons. I had to pretend I knew what they were talking about!

    Overall it was definitely a positive experience for a child though. I’d spend hours playing in the garden or the local woods with my sister – always in earshot of the house. (I’m only 23, before you start thinking this was all “back in the day”!) I still don’t really watch TV (if it were up to me, we wouldn’t have one!) but do enjoy going to the cinema. you have much more time to be a kid if you don’t spend your life watching other kids on TV!

  • Caroline

    I desperately need to give up tv watching. When the tv isn’t physically present, I don’t miss it. But my flatmate keeps a tv in the living room (it’s her place, she can do what she likes) and it’s harder than I thought it would be to walk away. I’ve seen a lot of shows that I never watched at home in the US, and it’s been nothing but a giant waste of time.

    I’m so good at making rules for myself. But I always break them. I’m the type that needs to get rid of all the wheat / sugar / tv / whatever in the whole house in order to be wheat / sugar / tv / whatever free. (I suppose I should be happy I never liked coffee or smoking and thankful that I don’t have a problem when I see alcohol!)

    • michelle

      OMG–you’ve just described me ! (If it helps you to feel any better.) I know I am basically addicted to TV and guess what that means? I need to get rid of it altogether:/ I often say the same thing about alcohol/smoking–thank heavens I don’t feel the same addictive pull towards it!

      And I will add, I spend a tremendous amount of time on the internet “researching” whatever it is that I am into at the time (exercise, diet, blogs, fashion etc.) It seems it is internet during the day and TV at night. I think I use it as an avoidance tactic, mindless entertainment and a general boredom buster. I am seriously reassessing my life which is why I am here on Miss Minimalist–getting a kick in the pants.

  • Marit

    I have never lived in a place with a television and I really think your daughter will be all the better for growing up without the mind-numbing options provided by a TV!
    My parents chose not to own a television, and the list of books I have read, places I have seen and tree houses I have built trumps those of most people I know! =) Experiences that were priceless!

    Not having the option of such a time-consuming distraction is infinitely easier than attempting to limit the time invested…at least from what I can tell!

  • Lydia

    Reading this and reflecting on it makes me realize i need to get real with myself about how i’ve replaced one time-wasting habit with another. i don’t have a TV, but the amount of time i spend on the internet is about as much as they say the average American spends watching TV.

    i adore the internet, don’t get me wrong. i can honestly say that it has changed my life in some amazing ways–as an opera singer, i’ve found out about so many opportunities (festivals, opera companies, auditions, competitions, networking with people in my city to start musical projects, etc) online that i would otherwise never have known about and participated in. and it has helped me to discover so much amazing music- classical and otherwise– that i would probably not have ever heard otherwise, and my life is richer for it (thank God for youtube :) ).

    But there is also a lot of stuff online that i get caught up in that really does just waste time. i need to stop patting myself on the back for giving up TV, and start using more self-control online. i don’t ever want to give up internet, but i need to limit myself to only using it for purposes that will actually enrich my life. i’m thinking of keeping my laptop turned off, and designating a set amount of time during the week to get online and do productive stuff. as of now, i just leave it running all the time so it’s really easy to just hop online “for a minute” and then a minute turns into hours!

    i’ve been thinking about deleting my facebook account too; it seems like the biggest time waster and i don’t think i really get much out of it.

  • Emma

    My mom did the “no tv until you’re 2” thing and after that it was just PBS and the Fresh Prince of Belair. No idea why he made it through the mom-censor and nothing else did, but that’s par for the course in my household. Grew up with the TV on only rarely and never really liked it much. Got into arguments with my mom about Barney when I was little–I hated it, she loved it (ha). A summer suitemate in college always wanted the common room TV on in the morning and it put me in the worst mood, every single day – the drone of people trying to get you overly concerned about news that is the unfortunate reality of everyday life. Or dumb filler pieces that you’re also supposed to get worked up over. The stuff numbs you to getting worked up about real concerns, real problems, and real events in daily life — or you get upset watching the TV, and then you’re upset about something you’re absolutely powerless with. I hate it. That said, there are a select few TV shows I make time to watch–Mad Men being one of them. But I wait for it to get to Netflix and watch it without commercials. I knew a family that connected an old laptop to a large screen tv monitor and just used the tv for enlarged netflix viewing–smart strategy, if you ask me. No commercials but a great visual display, if you care about the technology (which they very much did – family of aeronautics engineers).

  • Alison

    I gave up watching TV in 1987 after a series of illnesses over a period of years while I was in my teens. I had little energy to do much while I was unwell, and the TV was often on just to help me pass the time. In time I grew tired of the inane repetition of so many of the programs and as I began to recover, I made a decision to focus on more meaningful ways of spending time.

    A year abroad reinforced my resolve to let it go. I’ve never looked back and sometimes even forget that TV exists. Once in a while, I do watch something when I’m with family or friends when there is a show or event that has meaning for us. The litmus test for me is that if it is something I would leave my home to go see with friends, then it’s probably worth watching. Few things pass this test.

    I agree that the internet can be just bad as TV for wasting time. The key is discipline, as one poster has suggested. It is also being mindful of what you’re paying attention to.

    I’m far from the definition of a pure minimalist as I have more possessions than many minimalists have – minimalism is a work in progress for me. However, I think I can say that I am an “attention minimalist” in that I spend my free time mindfully experiencing the world in all it’s “real-life” 3D glory and enjoying my time on this earth doing things I love to do.

  • We just unplugged our tv a few weeks ago. Felt so unamerican, like I was breaking the law. So far, it’s so quiet and peaceful at home. A little bit of frontier living in L.A.

  • andrew

    I think it’s great for many of us to minimize our TV-viewing. However, there is an upside to TV-viewing that some may be overlooking. I grew up in a relatively uneducated family. Had I not watched years of Star Trek, C-SPAN, CNN and other programming, I believe my vocabulary and diction would not have grown as considerably.

    I also would not have contemplated some of the more concerning “bigger picture” issues of life. My parents were good parents, but they were not especially interested in the world outside of themselves (or at least did not engage us in discussions about such topics.)

    I would suggest minimizing TV viewing for children – but not eliminating it altogether. TV-viewing isn’t intrinsically negative or positive. It can be either depending on what is viewed and to what extent. It should be monitored and discussed as a family. Great article and responses!

  • Bluebellbutterfly

    I grew up in the UK without a TV till I was 15, I thnk it made me a better and more rounded child, I listened to music a lot and used my many toys and imagination, although it’s a branded toy my favorite which I encourage my child to play with too is LEGO. Once we got a TV (no one at school believed I really had) I was obsessed with it and have been with one ever since, however I know I could just give it up if I really wanted and have no TV weeks (one a year) to remind us we don’t need it. My Hubby however can not manage without one and puts it on as soon as he walks into a room. No hope for no TV for me again yet!

    I was called names, people thought we were strange but to me it was the norm and I did not care if I was different (and still don’t now). I grew up in the 80’s, and now value my parents frugle life style.

    Enjoy your commercial free home :-)

  • […] If you want to read another blogger’s story of living without television, click here and here. Share this:PinterestGoogle +1TwitterFacebookLike this:Like Loading… Posted By: Zoe Category: […]

  • Kit

    When I was growing up (in the 80s and 90s in the UK) we had a TV but were discouraged from watching it. I used to read and make up games with my sister instead. As I got older my parents relented and let us watch what we wanted, despite this, I still removed myself from the TV (my sister’s penchant for MTV reality shows helped!) I’m now in my late 20s and have never managed to catch up with all the pop culture references I missed. My partner and friends find my blank looks amusing but I’ve never minded standing out for this reason, I like to think they find me enigmatic! Overall, I’m glad that watching TV wasn’t my childhood default setting, it’s made it easier to ignore it as an adult and I would still rather be reading, writing or making than blindly staring at a screen.

  • Hi!

    Just wanted to let you know I linked to this post on my blog today. I love introducing my readers to you!

    Create an amazing day for yourself!
    Laura Saba
    The Liberation Artist

  • Marsi

    I got rid of my TV 2 years ago. The main reason is I watched TV ALL THE TIME. Friends would tell me to just have it on but go about and do what I had to do (housework, homework, etc). I just couldn’t do that. I would sit for hours and watch endlessly. I signed up for NetFlix but I had the same issues, I just kept watching stuff over and over. Had to cut that out too! I get DVD’s of shows I like from the library and schedule my watching time. Too bad this addictive behavior of mine couldn’t be for things like exercising or making money!!

  • Bettina

    We never watched much TV, my oldest son, now 39, thought PBS was the only channel we got for many years. My husband and younger son like to watch sports and I watch maybe 2 shows a week and the occasional movie. I think TV is a habit you acquire or don’t.When I was a child we never watched much TV, either.Love your writing about minimalism. Never had many possessions, now I have even fewer.

  • Mikey

    i never was drawn to having a TV and even when I had one at my disposal, the time I spent in front of it watching a show was minimal. so when i moved to my apartment, it wasn’t hard to go without one and trim my possessions even further. I enjoy having the minimal amount of stuff and the process of simplification is gratifying and soothing The less i own the happier I’ve become as I come to the realization that I can cultivate experiences instead of things.

  • Jim

    I must admit I lived without a TV for 5 years but decided there was too much that I was missing out on by not having one and I don’t mean actual TV programs as I agree with a lot of the things you have written about IE Awful commercialism, celebrity stories… yuck. I decided to make a work around for this.

    I invested in a Mac mini and a Nas drive, the Nas drive sits out of sight in a cupboard connected to the Internet, the Mini sits on a very white minimal Tv table with the TV and a PS3, I now have a fully connected media server with music and video but no actual TV only Netflix and downloadable content, this is all connected to a single Bose soundlink speaker giving sound throughout the house wirelessly. It may seem that I have succumbed to materialism but I guarantee you this is not the case, I have all I need in the most minimal way possible (No physical media and the bare minimum of power wires).

    I am working on my artworks now, pairing down what I truly need and framing it as minimal as possible so as to have some colour but also make the most out of the blank white wall canvas.

  • Kim

    Hi there. I live in a shared house and we dont have a TV. However I own a laptop, but now I have finished studying, I don’t think I need to use it so much (and am attemping to be more minimalist). Now I am using laptop for streaming TV online. This might end up being quite consuming of my time. However as a single female, I spend a lot of time at home in the evenings alone and I am concerned if I don’t have it, I won’t have as much entertainment – it also does not expose me to ads etc. Also this is the day and age of laptops and would I be silly to get rid of mine? Any advice would be great. I want to minimalise, but will I regret getting rid of this?

  • virginia

    Just giving another shout out for a tv free life. We have been without a tv in the house for over 3yrs. It is wonderful in so many ways.

  • […] vary, but the average American watches between 21 and 34 hours of television per week. Here’s what I do […]

  • Tina

    TV was down the basement when the kids were growing up. Now we have 1 small TV. Watch news,
    PBS and science shows-the new Cosmos. The TV is in a side room. My husband watches football and basketball. The library has DVD’s. Usually if friends talk about a show I don’t know what they are talking about. I like old black and white movies.

  • ED

    Boy, I love TV. I use even for sleeping! Can’t sleep with a radio, only with TV on all night long. I have 4 TVs! One in the living room, another in my bedroom, another in my kitchen and another in the bathroom, LOL!, True! I use when I take shower to listen the news. Use for games on my PS4 and PS3, Netflix and I learn so much from it. I watch good things as documentaries and some good movies. And before someone say something, let me explain that I do have a balanced life. This is basically my every day life unless something comes up:

    I work full time, I get up very early about 5:00 AM, have some coffee, exercise for 20 minutes, take my 3 dogs for 15 minutes walking, half hour to learn German on DVD’s, play piano for 1 hour, shower, drive to work listening German, working all day until 5:30 PM, drive back home listening me playing classical music to check on what I need to improve, take my 3 small dogs for 20 minutes walking, clean my house for half hour, shower, dinner, play classical piano for at least 2 hours with a 15 minutes brake each hour and use this to play with my dogs, then, my favorite game Final Fantasy Realm Reborn on PS4, then, TV until fall sleep.

    Weekends: Clean house, I like my house extremely clean, so I clean every day! Of course I’m a girl, lol. All very organized. I know where is everything because I’m extremely organized person, shower my pets each 15 days and take them to the park, laundry and go out with some friends at night. My boyfriend lives overseas, so, we don’t see each other frequently but if he lives close, I’d have weekends night to dedicate to him. On Sundays I play piano and when I try to volunteer for a good cause for animals when they need. You can do everything as long you are disciplined and take serious. I do use Timer and when the time is up is up, but could ever gave up of the TV but of course I don’t stop my life to watch TV, the TV is controlled by me, not me controlled by the TV. So, as long isn’t an addiction, you can get good things from it.

  • Geraldine

    We gave up cable in 2000 and only used our TV as a screen to watch movies every Friday evening as a family event. In 2007 our old TV set took its dying breath and we got rid of both TV and DVD player, as well as the TV closet (wow that’s three things at once). I haven’t missed TV ever since. If we watch a movie together Friday night as a familiy event, we usually sit packed together in bed using a little 17” laptop screen. That’s enough and a cozy event. My son was born in 2007 and so has never experienced having cable or a TV set. He doesn’t even understand the concept of life TV (f.ex. watching soccer world championship on stream, one of the seldom events we can’t give up) and always asks us to stop the ‘movie’ when he has to use the bathroom :D.

    TV is today’s plague, it sedates people and distroys human connections, it manipulates our brains and steals our precious life time, and it opens the door to more desires and more consumption. My son watches movies and one children’s TV show once a week, so we are no anti-TV fanatics, but because he can’t just switch on the TV, we have far more control about a) what he watches and b) how much he watches. So far he has never complained and if this would not be enough, even his teachers noticed that he was different from other kids, less nervous, less aggressive, and less distractable.

    So TV is dead in our family, problem today is smart phones, tablet devices, and internet start to overtake TV’s role, that will be a harder fight.

  • Tina

    We watch Star Trek reruns,movies,and news. There are 2 shows a week we follow. Never got used to watching Tv.

  • Tina

    Friends talk about following certain shows. We don’t watch much. A big birthday event is all of us going to see a movie together with the grandchildren. My husband and son like to watch sports together. If we go in the car, we listen to the radio.

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