TV will ruin you!

the TV effect cover

Growing Up on Television
The TV Effect

I was halfway through college when this was published so I am certain I wasn’t completely ruined by television. Certainly this is not for lack of trying, but where I grew up there were only 3 channels and one was kind of fuzzy at that. (Evidently my complete knowledge of the finer points of Brady Bunch, Gilligan’s Island and The Love Boat are not necessarily a good thing.) ┬áThe author claims that TV is responsible for increased aggression, declining attention, poor grades, lack of reading skills and a whole host of social problems. The whole argument reminds me of the how the Rock and Roll, the Internet, texting, video games,etc are always the next ruinous thing for our children.


tv and decline in library use

tv back cover



  1. Of course, the irony is that I was allowed to watch WAY too much TV when I was a kid (during the summer, probably 8 or more hours a day) and I burned out on it by the time I was 18. I don’t own a TV now and will probably never have cable. But my friends who were forbidden to watch TV as kids are obsessed with it as adults!

  2. I don’t know if it realy contributes to anything or not, but I don’t think watching all that stuff does anyone any good either.

  3. Read something by Ray Bradbury, it’ll be about is up to date and useful, but much more worth your time.

    I have to empathize with Emily, I did the same (though not to the same degree) and now would be hard pressed to care less about modern TV.

  4. @ Emily,
    Me too! I was born when this book came out. I watched insane amounts of TV and was always going to the movies. Now I am a Librarian, my TV is on once a day for the news. I have no interest in movies. However many of my friends who went to the same Christian schools were forbidden to watch TV. Now they are obsessed and I have no idea what show they are talking about.

    When I started working in Library’s in 1996 at age 16, the Librarians at the library i worked for were all laying themselves in the graveyards. “Were all be out of work in a few years.” 15+ years later were are all still here.

  5. Hm – I don’t know – I didn’t have cable growing up so I watched a lot of reruns – Batman, Star Trek, Smothers Brothers, The Electric Company, I Love Lucy – and now I’m a comic book reading, Barry Manilow loving, 35 year old (well, almost, I turn 35 on September 8th) Star Trek fan who thinks that 70s one piece suits is a far better male fashion statement then the current “sagging” trend. Maybe tv did ruin me.

    But it also fostered my love for reading. I used to watch a lot of Reading Rainbow and had a crush on LeVar Burton as a child, so I read a lot so I could impress him. The crush faded, the reading habit didn’t.

  6. My husband’s a tv freak. Me? I may watch a few things but I am not gotta get my eight hours a day couch potato in. I, too, was born the year the book came out and my parents were never strict with my TV watching habits so I don’t know if my lack of interest today atributes to that at all.

  7. I never bought the conversion box so I have no TV. Of course I spend a great deal of time on the computer instead. The kids now have even more to entertain them than simple television.
    I watched my fair share growing up but never lost my love of reading; my Mother and Grandfather were constant readers. My still lucid 87 yr. mother still reads although somewhat hampered by requiring large print books. Unless there is a storm watch she never turns on the TV. That old fashioned source, the daily newspaper, is the way to get the daily news and her library card is a source of entertainment.

  8. I grew up in a house with the television always on, to quote David Byrne. Now I have a 4 a week Netflix addiction and an abiding love for PBS.

  9. Hmm let’s see. I was born in 1990. My family had cable, with 60 or 70 channels (until I was 11, when we got digital cable and increased into the hundreds). I don’t have ANY idea how I fit it into my schedule, but I literally watched pretty much everything on Nickelodeon, Disney, and PBS, as well as some on Cartoon Network and some grown-up TV with my family, on a regular basis (in retrospect, that’s a LOT of TV). I also got my first library card at age 5, got permission to walk to the library myself (2 blocks away) at age 9 in large part because no one wanted to go as often as I did, and was there a minimum of twice a week by 6th grade, at which point I was reading 1-2 books a day. I rarely went anywhere without a book from age 4 until, well, now. I currently have maybe 3 shows I watch regularly, and I’m not terribly bothered if I miss them (I tend to just have marathons of catching up on them online, if I care at all, which is more fun than waiting a week between each episode).

    Does that count as a counterargument?

  10. The thing I love about books like this is that the authors try to make it seem like in the days before television we had a society full of literate children who loved nothing more than to sit and read. The reality is that just like today we had children who did enjoy reading, but also a large number of children who either couldn’t read or chose not to (most likely listening to radio programs or playing outside instead).

  11. And to think that in the nineteenth century, people were worried about women reading novels.

  12. Eeyore and AlexB remind me of the long ago library(an) panics about novel reading and dime novels!

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