The “No TV” Homes

I find television very educating. Every time somebody turns on the set, I go into the other room and read a book.’ ~Groucho Marx

An interesting observation and trend that I have been hearing / seeing in many Indian homes (Especially with children) is this concept of The “No TV” Home.

So, what is a “NO TV” Home – You may ask?

the-no-tv-homes

In some homes, parents have made a conscious choice / decision to NOT buy a TV / have sold off their existing TV’s (Did this shock you? I was shocked when I heard it too. A free tip here: Please refrain from making this suggestion in your home if you think it will become a “No Mummy” / “No Daddy” Home  instead of the “No TV” Home)

In some homes, parents have made a decision (carved in stone) that TV viewing will be limited to 1 hour a day, at least when children are awake.

So basically, NO TV homes are homes in which parents have made a conscious choice (in thought, word and action) to limit TV Time on a daily basis. After all, TV is one of the biggest “DISTRACTOR” in today’s day and age.

And from what I’ve seen in such homes, there are so many positives – especially when it comes to children. The noticeable differences being:

  1. Children are healthier – They are physically active, indulge in more sports and outdoor activities. And in general, are definitely not victims of childhood obesity and other health disorders – which is a common phenomenon in the homes of those children who watch excessive TV.

  2. Children are more creative – Yes! You can see the differences in the way they approach anything they do. They take an active interest in some art form (be it drawing / painting, etc), indoor games and enjoy such activities for hours at length. Good that the creative juices are flowing!

  3. Children have better social interaction skills – Again, such children are more expressive and communicative, and hence end up with better “real-life” social interaction skills. You’re more likely to see them around the block (simply because there’s no TV to keep you busy), and they say “Hello” or smile at you when you meet, than the “TV kids” who are hardly seen out of their homes!

  4. Children are “Doers” – So what I mean is that they actually DO things themselves – Big / Small. For e.g: They’re more likely to fetch water themselves. While the kids who watch TV all the time end up being “Orderers”. So they will order someone to do things – even the basic things like getting a glass of water!; simply because a break in TV watching is unimaginable!

  5. Children are happier – In general, the kids from the No TV homes appear to be happier! They laugh more and they have well-rounded personalities (At least from what I could tell!)

These are some strong compelling reasons to go for the NO TV Homes..

However, many parents argue that not watching TV can actually be a disadvantage for their children since everyone else in their peer group knows things from watching TV, and hence the kids feel “left-out”. One of my mummy friends who actually used to insist on “No TV watching at home” mentioned that her bright confident and cheerful 6 year old daughter actually started losing confidence in herself, became sad & morose and developed an inferiority complex because the young girl was not able to “fit in” into conversations with her friends in school. “They spoke about Cartoon Network, movie songs, etc etc. and I have no idea what they are talking. At this rate, no one will talk to me in school, and I won’t have any friends. So please please let me watch TV for some time” She begged. And mummy had to agree.

When I quizzed a few of my mummy friends who strongly advocate The No TV Homes, here’s what they said “TV is an Idiot Box & does nothing more than creating Idiots. I don’t want my daughter to grow up under the primary influence of an Idiot” , “ Not only is it good for the children, it is also so good for the couple. At least, we see each other more and spend time communicating. “The husband” on the couch with a TV in front is like a crocodile in water. The laziness, inertia, and interest in the world around, I tell you! It’s unparalleled”.. Ha Ha.. I don’t disagree

In my view, the TV is one of the best inventions of the century. And is also one of the most important sources of knowledge and information; & also any-time every-time entertainment. The challenge for most of us (children and adults) is self-control and finding that balance between using TV as an “Idiot Box” , “Learning channel” and “Entertainment Medium”. The thing about “Balance” and “Self-Control” is that it is easy to write and theorize, but so HARD to practice and follow!

I don’t know for sure whether the NO TV home is meant for all, but definitely restricting TV Time can do wonders to your kid’s overall growth and development.

That’s my view. What’s yours? Leave a comment to let me know

Nischala Murthy Kaushik is mother and philosopher rolled into one (the philosophical streak emerged after she became a mother – essential for balance, she believes). She is an Engineer and Management Graduate (IIMB Alumni) by Education, IT/Innovation/Marketing Professional by Employment, Google/Blog/Twitter/Social Media Lover by Era, Writer by Passion, Dreamer by Compulsion,  Student of Life by Choice, Eternal Optimist by Necessity and Chief Happiness Officer of LIFE by Realization. She blogs @ Nischala’s Space, Thoughts and Expressions AND VERVE : The Quintessence of my Life . In addition, she is also as a guest blogger in several sites of global repute; and her blogs have been featured in several Best-Of lists and on the Directory of Top Indian blogs. She tweets @nimu9 and is also listed among the 50 Indian Women to follow on Twitter.

  • If we go by the argument that TV create only Idiots, then may I humbly remind that we the kids of 70s and 80s are the first generation in India that grew on TV 🙂 I guess a more balanced approach is needed, while I am not a big TV fan, I do enjoy my late night movies and kids are given some TV time.

    • Nischala

      Prasad – The point which many parents make (& rightly so) is that TV programs of yester years (when we were growing up) were far fewer, and their content was definitely “cleaner” that it is today.. The issue which many parents I know have is about the “quality of content” really.. From what I know, there was DD mostly and the kind of programs were also mostly either religious / inspirational or general Time Pass.. but I don’t really know if they had any adverse effect on our minds and behaviors; or if they were the catalysts for propagating and fueling our buying patterns!. For e.g.: Look at the amount of advertising today. An advertisers favorite and easy target are kids! And you let your child watch TV for 1 hour, and he / she will definitely ask you to buy X / Y / Z 🙁 . I am with you on a balanced approach and parental supervision during TV time, but sometimes finding that BALANCE is the challenge! And yes! for many parents watching that late night program is absolutely essential to keep us going through parenting, right? Thanks for leaving a comment.. Nischala

  • Sid Balachandran

    Interesting one Nicholas. At the risk of treading on a few toes, I might actually disagree a bit on this. I won’t advocate No TV homes. The reason is partly selfish. In today’s erase, kids are quicker to absorb more visual forms of everything, be it entertainment, stories or even world affairs. Having said that, I will also say it is absolutely essential to find the right balance. What I will not stand for or advocate is propping the kids down in front of the TV as a means to shut them up or distract them. Also letting kids watch TV without a regulated time schedule or letting them watch anything and everything, is not an option either. We need to exercise our good sense when it comes to TV and kids. This is one area where ignorance of what your kids are watching is Not Bliss. Great post once again.

    • Nischala

      Sid – We can all agree to disagree, and learn from divergent opinions right? The parents who don’t let watch kids see TV actually let them watch videos / select programs on other visual mediums (laptops, etc.) One such family has ended up with kids who are actually “genius” – I mean the boys are less than 10, and can write complex software code which can put any engineer to shame! I agree to each his / her own, and what works for one might not work for the other. And I also agree that a balanced approach is the key. And as you rightly pointed out, in addition to balance a fixed schedule / routine and parental supervision is key. The point is kids sometimes watch the same programs again and again and again.. that it bores many a parent to death :(,.. and some kids programs honestly are so silly and boring that I can’t get myself to watch them.I doze off (And so much for parental supervision ;). Tx again for stopping by and leaving a comment. Nischala

      • Sid Balachandran

        True – I’ve been through a handful of these kids programs myself, and it undeniably lends a new meaning to the term “Bored-to-death” 🙂 But then again, I might be happy them watching a repeated “Chota Bheem” than watching some of the monstrosities / frivolities that put even adults to shame. God, I miss simple things like “Tom & Jerry !” Think I’m getting old…….:)

        • Nischala

          :).. Yes.. I know what you mean.. Some of the TV programs make you wonder what is the world coming to.. And same pinch on the Tom and Jerry :).. – I feel silly saying it, but it used to be / still is so enjoyable.. And I know what you mean about getting old.. ! Once you’re a parent, you’re automatically enrolled in the “older generation” club 🙂

  • Rekha

    Very well pointed out Nischala! A balanced usage of anything including the so-called Idiot Box can only improve skills. Harsh decisions forced upon kids will only create distances. I don’t agree to too much TV watching, but an hour or two under parental supervision, I believe will do no harm. I can’t believe the poor things having to forego the little time they get to watch a few programs of their interest and keep staring at Mommy. How boring! 😀

    • Nischala

      Rekha – Thanks for stopping by. I agree that a balanced approach is required. In one case that I know where they don’t have a TV at home, the Mom does ensure some screen time (not on TV, but iPad / laptop).. But otherwise, the activities the little one does blow my mind away! Seriously it takes significant effort from the parents who opt for No TV homes, and that is definitely commendable. I agree that balance is the key. I also have read even too many public figures speak for this. For e.g.: I read that Juhi Chawla did not allow her kids to watch Tv upto an age. I read that even Sudha Murthy (Narayan Murthy’s wife) did not buy a TV for very many years. She says that evening were for playing , reading, talking and pursuit of some hobby! And her kids are really doing well for themselves. So to each his / her own! But I agree that it is a very important choice / decison which parents make, and they should be willing to go the full mile with this choice. Nischala

  • sirisha achanta

    ‘No TV’ is too radical and too much TV is always bad. The middle path is the way to go. I follow the 30 minutes TV per day rule for the child. No grownup TV at all while she is awake. We were TV addicts before my child was born but now I have discovered many things that can be done when TV is not a choice. But I get my daily dose after she sleeps at night. It works for us but it is difficult (who said Parenting is easy,right?)

    • Nischala

      Sirisha – 30 minutes is good I think. And being consistent about it is probably the key. you make a very valid point that no adult TV when kids are around.. 10 mins of watching the wrong program is enough to do damage! And oh yes! I agree with you that some entertainment is essential for the mother’s brain.. On many days, I think it is just to maintain “sanity” :)… Thanks for stopping by. Nischala

  • Swati Nitin Gupta

    Well balanced post Nischala and yes no TV homes is not a good idea but then too much TV watching is also not a good idea either. So yes a balance is indeed the order of the day.

    • Nischala

      Thanks Swati. Agreed that a balanced approach is the key..

  • Falak Randerian

    I grew up in an ‘Only TV Home’ 😀 as there was not much to do… if it was too sunny outside which in North India is not a big deal, TV was our best friend… That is the reason why I took a conscious decision to limit TV viewing to 1 hour only. And in that 1 hour my almost 3 year old can choose between Barney/Peppa Pig/Curious George/Brainy Baby. That 1 hour includes all the screen time she gets (in front of TV and laptop). We haven’t introduced a Tab to her yet. I think she has a lot of time to explore and do other things. A balance is important I guess

    • Nischala

      Falak – I know what you mean! I am NOW in North India (and originally from South India).. And I seriously understand the lifestyle limitations that the weather can impose on you. I even wrote a post on it @ http://nipmu.blogspot.in/2012/03/12-most-interesting-ways-in-which.html . For e.g: In Delhi, 3 months hard winter, 3 months harsh summer, 1-2 months with rains, virals, dengues – takes off 7 – 8 months out of the 12 months.. And at these times staying indoors is the only option :(.. Now how to spend time if you don’t watch TV, and how long can mom / dad / anyone possibly keep a child busy! But am sure you turned out just fine :).. after all TV of our times did not do much harm , right! Today, the content, channels and quality of many a program is a BIG ??? I love the way you have put a 1 hour slot and asked her to choose between a select few programs. I think by making your kid choose between equally good options, she is learning so many things than what can possibly meet the eye, right? Tx for stopping by.. Nischala