Could You Live Without TV?

Image: Alamy Stockfoto

Isolation.  Uninformed.  Amish. Boring.

These are just a couple of the words my high school students came up with this week when I asked them what they would think of a teenager who told them his/her family doesn’t own or watch TV.

None of them could fathom that such a thing exists even though many admitted they don’t watch the TVs they have that often.

It’s a hard concept to grasp in this world of bigger and better TVs, that there could be people out there who do not want to have one, if not more in their home.  In fact, we have three TVs, Tivo, Wii, and DVD players in our house.  For three (almost four) people.

Is this excessive?

There are actually many people who would say, “yes.”

Not owning a TV is a trend I have seen more frequently in my facebook and twitter feeds.  A small group of people have not just ditched cable or dish, but have thrown out the old boob tube completely.

A large group of ex-TV-watchers are parents.  Many site reasons such as not wanting the television to be the center of family life and not wanting their children exposed to situations/characters/products that they feel do not fit their family values.  And surprisingly to me, many had given up the TV long before having kids!

But they are not all just parents who don’t want to expose their kids to Barney (the purple dinosaur OR Neil Patrick Harris’ character on How I Met Your Mother).

Plenty of singles have tossed the idiot box because it’s just collecting dust.  Computers and tablets have taken over as the latest way to get the news and catch up on shows, so to cut costs (and avoid having to dust another piece of furniture), the TV is thrown out.

Most see the biggest benefit to living without the small screen is the positive effect on the budget.  Coming in second is that they find themselves doing more:  more together, more creative projects, more reading, more thinking.  The reflex for many of us is to plop down and mindlessly surf for something to entertain us.  Those without that option either stare into space or find something else to occupy their mind and time.

To the surprise of many — like my students — who automatically think people without a TV have no idea what is going on in the world, all the people I talked to who don’t have a TV actually are better at keeping themselves informed about politics and news because they make a conscious effort to get their news elsewhere including the internet and NPR.

The drawback?  Most feel out of the loop when everyone around them is talking about a big sports game or an award show that they missed.

But that seems to be a small drawback to the many positives people seem to be reaping.

Could I do it?

Pretty sure not.  I am way too addicted to red carpet coverage, watching the Detroit Tigers lose play, and stumbling upon any of the Back to the Future movies as a way to suck up an afternoon.


  1. You know me! I couldn’t do it. I mean, it helps my decision that my part time job requires me to watch TV, but even without that, I couldn’t do it. Some people go hiking for enjoyment. I watch television. hobbies are hobbies, right?

  2. We haven’t owned a tv for over 3 years. I honestly don’t miss it at all. I watch NCIS, 30Rock, and HIMYM online. We get NFL, MLB, and NCAA games through paid services online that are super cheap.

    We just wasted so much time with it in the background. Or we would think we would watch one show and watch more.

    So we got rid of the tv before Samuel, but I doubt we will ever own one again.

  3. I wouldn’t want to live without a TV. I also really don’t care if people don’t have one, I just don’t like the holier than thou attitude/i’m so superior I don’t have a tv attitude that I’ve witnessed with many who do get rid of it. I also think it’s funny when they go on and on about how much time they’d waste with a tv and not spend with their family/children and then are online 24/7.

  4. y can’t people live without t.vs
    y is t.v so important

  5. I just recently canned my cable subscription… I had had it with fee increases and I pretty much only watch sports anyhow. I haven’t skipped a beat. Turns out I actually get to see more games now than I did before! This is a handy resource with football season about to start: Thanks for this post..


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