TV Temptations

A friend of mine told me recently that she’s on a media fast. What does that mean? She’s not ingesting any news. She is not reading newspapers, magazines, listening to the radio or watching TV. Wait a minute! No more yummy TV? There’s the tasty election, all that mouth-watering political commentary, then there will be the delicious swearing-in ceremony–juicy stuff!

I’ve always suspected that TV viewing can be addictive. Most of it is redundant, myopic and just plain overloaded with stimulating nonsense, but it has its informative and entertaining moments. While it might work for some families to totally ban the tube, I’ve taken the moderate approach to TV-watching with my family. That said, I’ve got a list of pet peeves about TVs.

How can we find a harmonious balance between the TV and an eco-minded lifestyle? It’s a delicate balance reconciling your eco-conscience with where and how to view your TV. Not So Big House author and architect Susan Susanka promotes putting the TV in an alcove, which offers an “alternative space within a larger space.”

Feng Shui experts say that electronic equipment has negative effects on Chi. Chi is the energy that connects people with their environment. The Practical Feng Shui suggests, “Position the TV away from the seating, and ensure that people can sit in favorable directions in the room.”

The newer LCD flat-screen TVs, with their thinner profiles and easy wall mounting make interior design placement easier. These TVs can recede and blend into the decor of a room. Green Supply Line notes that LCD flat-screen TVs have a green component of lowering power consumption by 30-40 percent. I’ll add that they sure look nice, but trashing your old perfectly good, but not so cute, TV for a newer model isn’t going to reconcile your eco-conscience.

For the sake of this article, let’s just say your TV is dead. You’ve disposed of it responsibly, and you have the perfect “out of sight, out of mind” place for the new one in your home. Rather than go out and buy a new armoire to house and hide your new TV, check out this eco-friendly DIY entertainment center. It’s from HGTV, of all places! If you are left with an eco-mess of packaging consider Habitat’s solution, making a TV stand out of all that packaging.

Some TV pet peeves:

Mealtimes: The research has shown that consuming a meal at home in front of the TV causes a higher consumption of calories. Who needs that? Plus, sitting down to a meal together fosters family communication.

TV size: Some TVs are massive in relation to the size of a room. Giving TV the prominence of being one of the first things you see when you enter a room lets your TV dominate the space. It’s a hefty design statement you might want to reconsider.

Living rooms: A TV in the main living space takes something away from all those wonderful things you could be doing: Reading, playing a game, listening and playing music, making art and crafts, and playing and conversing with your kids and pets. Living rooms are for living and engaging in quality time with your family and yourself. Designated spaces, like a family room or den is a better location for the TV.

Kids’ rooms: There are some strong associations between TV in children’s bedrooms and numerous health and educational problems highlighted in a New York Times article from earlier this year. “Children with bedroom TVs score lower on school tests and are more likely to have sleep problems. Having a television in the bedroom is strongly associated with being overweight and a higher risk for smoking. One of the most obvious consequences is that the child will simply end up watching far more television–and many parents won’t even know.” Read more : here. TVs also add to bedroom noise.

Back to my serial media-fasting friend, I applaud her for having the resolve to know what is right for her. If you are not ready to go on that particular diet, how do you keep yourself and your family from being TV junkies?


Elliot C.
Elliot C.9 years ago

My biggest Pet Peeve is how TV has invaded our vacations. Kids want to take portable DVD players in the car (Anyone care that we just drove over the Golden Gate Bridge?) and worse - hotel rooms are upgrading to flat screens, so the kids watch just for the novelty.

Almost ruined our San Francisco Bay area family vacation.

Ted F.
Ted F.9 years ago

Growing up, my TV time was limited to Saturday mornings. I was very lucky to have an Olmstead park across the street where I could play till I dropped. My family also had a summer home on Lake Erie and when we were there, TV was completely off limits. My gosh, am I ever glad that I wasn't allowed to indulge in as much TV as I wanted. I explored, created, and got lots of exercise. Having practically no TV allowed my love of nature to develop and this shaped my career choice as an environmental planner and my lifestyle path as an eco-conscious individual.

Mike B.
Mike B9 years ago

Companies are in business to make a profit and news programs, including local ones, are no different. If it wasn't for the ads and commercials they wouldn't be around very long. TV is just a tool to reach the commercial consumer.

Caralien S.
Caralien S9 years ago

When we moved 6 weeks ago, there were (still are) programs left on the TiVo, but we decided against getting anything more than internet service.

The first few weeks were hard. Some pulp which we watched daily is missed, but not much. We had been looking forward to the new seasons of shows which had been cut early last year during the writer's strike, and the new season was about to start (we've tried streaming some of the shows to the projector, but most don't seem to work well with a Mac, and it's more frustrating than it's worth; maybe we'll Netflix the shows next year if we remember to).

In the car it's somewhere between NPR and college stations, so politically, I'm not completely clueless. We still have the projector for watching movies, and our notebooks for watching the debates or other things which are interesting (although I was shocked to see that Paul Newman died 5 weeks ago, as that is how far out of the loop we are now on non-political media). My husband hasn't yet allowed me to put the (unplugged) TV into the basement, but we may soon.

I've also started reading again. Going to the library to pick up whatever seems interesting. History, biographies, food books.

So we're not on a media fast, just a media diet. I wish I could say that we never saw advertisements, but they're everywhere, including my inbox (sometimes wanted, sometimes not, occasionally interesting).

It does make for a more peaceful home for us.

Annie Bond
Past Member 9 years ago

When I grew up we didn't have a TV until I was 16, and I will be forever grateful that my childhood imagination was left free to grow in the woods and with projects. As an adult it turns out that I hardly ever watch TV (like Roberta, creative interests take up all that time instead, happily ), but I like to keep it for big news events like NOW with the U.S. elections upon us. Reading about a national/global crisis is very different than watching it. For example, I was on vacation without a TV during the unfolding of Katrina. What a different experience, reading every word about it in The New York Times, than my friends had who were glued to the TV for days... . For them the horror was more visceral I think, whereas mine was more thoughtful.

roberta s.
roberta S9 years ago

when i moved to my condo in 01/2005, i gave the tv to my son - it is so peaceful - lovely music - lots of time for 'projects' and activities - wouldn't change it - love it - time is life - encourage people to try it - here's a novel idea: read! - try "What The Stones Remember" by Patrick Lane - incredible powers of description - moving - poignant - you'll forget all about 'the box' - blessings and peace - OBAMA 08!

Vibhu Gauba
Past Member 9 years ago

Nice Post Buddy ..!


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