Can Family Life Be Happier Without TV?
IN FEBRUARY this year, The Wall Street Journal featured the article: “Going Tubeless: Some Families Flourish Without TV.” The paper reported: “For the relative handful of American families who unplug for good, life after television goes on—quite happily at that.”
Television’s effect on the family was also discussed recently at a reunion to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the first sub-four-minute mile, which was run by Roger Bannister. According to Jim Ryun, a champion miler in the 1960’s, the subject came up during dinner with Roger before the 1968 Olympics.
“My wife, Anne, and I were engaged to be married at the time,” Ryun explained, “so Roger told us he had discovered something that really improved the quality of his family life. Of course, we were all ears. He said what he had done is taken the television out of the house, so that had given them more time as a family to be together, to talk, to read together.”
Ryun related: “What he said had a major impact on us. We began realizing, ‘We don’t really need a TV.’”
A number of people have reached the same conclusion. Why? Because of the mesmerizing effect that TV can have, especially on the young. According to a mother in Maryland, U.S.A., when nursing her infant daughter in front of the TV, the baby would “whip her head away from me and stare fixated at the screen. We figured if she was doing it at that age, what would she do when she got older?” So the family got rid of their TV.
If you do not eliminate TV entirely, does not at least controlling its use make good sense? Karen Stevenson, the first black woman to receive a Rhodes Scholarship for study at Oxford University in England, said of her earlier life: “No television was allowed during the week. If there [was] something we especially wanted to see . . . , we had to talk to [mother] about it the Sunday before and plan for it.”
What about TV viewing in your family? Do you see the value of limiting it, or even eliminating it, for a time?