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What We Learned Being TV-Free

tv free

Guest post from Valerie of Our Healthy Foodie Life

Six months ago, my husband and I sold our only TV!

Being glued to the TV night after night became a regular occurrence in our household. At some level, it was comforting to get cozy on the couch after work and forget about all of the day’s problems. But at the same time, the anxiety caused by the constant realization that we were missing out on more fulfilling activities was too much to handle.

So finally we cut off the source of our unsettled feelings: we sold our TV and our gaming system.

Some (actually, most) people thought that selling our TV was crazy. I’ll be the first person to agree that, yes, this was a radical move for the norms of our culture. But after having long conversations about the subject, my husband and I found it even more crazy to spend evening after evening immersed in electronics rather than enjoying life.

We spent part of this spring, the entire summer, and a portion of the fall without our own TV. If we wanted to watch our favorite shows, we had to watch them on our computer, or watch someone else’s TV.

The emptiness created from having no TV was scary at first, but ultimately became freeing.

Here are three things we learned during our six months with no TV:

1. TV is (mostly) a waste of  time

After giving up our TV, my husband and I had an incredible amount of free time for activities other than watching TV.

And do you know what we did? A lot! We read books outside on our porch, spent time with friends, went on bike rides, volunteered, read extra Bible devotionals, walked our dogs, started a garden, etc.

I think you get the idea by now: eliminating TV gave us so much in return.

2. Intentional TV watching is a wonderful gift

I wrote point #1 with a focus on unintentional TV watching. What does that mean? We’ve all been there before: turning the TV on as background entertainment, binge watching the latest show we discovered, or re-watching episodes of a favorite show.

During our six months without an actual TV, we did get to watch our favorite shows on our computer. However, watching TV on a computer is less enjoyable and is far less convenient. When we wanted to watch TV, it was something we truly wanted to watch.

Being intentional about our TV consumption allowed us to enjoy shows and movies, but it didn’t drain our free time.

3. There’s so much more to do in life than sit inside

The main lesson that we learned from this experience is that there is so much more to do in life than watch TV. This statement also applies to excess time spent on gaming, social media, tablets, and similar digital activities.

When we stay in the house glued to our digital devices, we lose out big time on the other wonderful activities in which we could participate. We also lose out on real, face-to-face conversations with one another.

If you take away one thing from our experience, this point is probably the most important: get outside, learn that hobby you’ve always wanted to learn, invite friends over for a night outside to catch up with each other face-to-face, volunteer, or start on that exercise goal you’ve thought about for months. Step away from your TV and your other digital devices, and enjoy the life that is happening right in front of you.

In doing so, you’ll give yourself the opportunity to feel more relaxed, fulfilled, and build new, healthy habits. We love the healthier perspective we have on using technology in moderation, and we are incredibly thankful for having completed our “no TV” experiment.

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Valerie lives in Charleston, South Carolina, with her husband and two dogs. She is the creator and writer of the blog Our Healthy Foodie Life.

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10 Comments

  • Renee says:

    We also got rid of our cable and big screen TV’s over 2 years ago. And now we spend so much more time together as a family. We play board games, football out in the yard, Frisbee, ride bikes, go for walks. Most importantly, we have more time with God, and reading our Bibles. This was a great post. Congrats on getting rid of the TV.

  • Kim says:

    After doing a 40 day tv fast a few years ago, the tv seldom gets turned on. We still have it, but the only time it’s watched is occasionally to see a weather forecast or if the tornado sirens are alarming. We’ve saved A LOT of money by not subscribing to cable or satellite tv. We don’t miss it all! 🙂

  • Brenda says:

    I’m glad you found benefits from being without the tv. I think that would be hard to do – I only watch it for an hour after my youngest goes to bed and it’s a nice way to relax at the end of the day. However, I do think I could benefit from less computer time. I’m always on, checking emails, and I could use the time to play more games with my kids.

  • Beth says:

    When we got married 5 1/2 years ago we decided we didn’t need a TV. We still don’t have one and don’t regret it. Like you mentioned, we use our laptop to watch shows or movies – intentional watching is huge! One other benefit for us (in our small apartment) is that we have more entertaining space. The TV is not the focus of our living room and the shelf we have in its place is smaller and more functional than an entertainment center. People do think it’s a little weird but we wouldn’t go back! If you’re serious about trying a lengthy period of time without it I would do something similar to the author – remove it! My sister and brother-in-law moved theirs to their unfinished basement.

  • Shannon Runnels says:

    15 years and going strong without a TV in our home. Made the decision to start our married life without one and haven’t regretted it EVER since then. Especially now, you can find most info on the web and watch videos that way if you must. But we don’t do hardly any of that either. We find our lives much fuller and we waste WAY less time than most of our peers. Our family is stronger because of it. One of the top 5 best decisions we’ve ever made!

  • Uma @ Centsible Indian says:

    We have a TV, but we just don’t watch a lot of TV. We don’t have any cable or even Netflix and that helped us reduce our TV time instead of getting rid of it.

    Again, to each their own. Do what works for you.

  • Susan in St. Louis says:

    Yes, yes! Our family would second what you have found, as we’ve gone all 10 years of our married life without a TV (, I was TV-free for many years as a single before that). We wonder how in the world people find all that time to watch the screen!

    I asked my 8 year-old if he ever wishes we had a TV, and his immediate answer was “No.” Why? “They waste people’s time…and where would we put it?”

    However, when I was growing up we did have a TV (no cable), but it “lived” in the basement and didn’t dominate our living space. Viewing was very limited, and the only time Dad brought the TV upstairs was for big sporting games. This also was a fabulous way to limit the screen’s influence, while not totally abandoning a television.

    I think the key is – am I controlling what is watched and when, or am I being controlled in some way? Personally, I don’t trust myself to maintain control, and it’s just way easier for me to not have the option to flip the TV on. 😉

  • lyss says:

    Been married 10 yrs. without owning a TV. I suppose it’s not the norm, but it seems normal to us!
    How does one get rid of the computer, though??? It’s just as much of a time waster as a TV, really. More so, I’d say, because you can find just about anything to watch or read at any time. Sigh.

  • Karen says:

    We’ve been without tv service for nearly 8 years. We do use a dvd player to watch movies, but we usually break them up over 2 nights, and sometimes don’t watch anything. We definitely read more which we enjoy. Before we went cold turkey, we stopped watching during the weekends and noticed a peace about our home.

  • Rosanna Sauereisen says:

    We have a tv, but in our 13 years of marriage, we have never had cable or Netflix. Currently, however, we do have a computer hooked to our tv. (techy husband) We can stream shows off the internet this way. Obviously, there isn’t nearly the amount of content available, but I am glad we have never had to pay extra money out of our budget for it. I do find that in the winter we do spend a little too much time watching tv, though as we live on the Canadian Prairie’s and it gets really cold. Each summer, though, we take one entire month off of movie AND tv watching and find it to be very rewarding.

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