Monday 22 August 2011

The heroin model: why I don't have a TV

Years ago, long before I had children, I worked for a large sinister media corporation (I've worked for a few). My experience one afternoon in a commissioning meeting for a high profile pre-school television series made me decide instantly: "when I have children I'll never let them watch TV". On the surface it was a strange snap decision to make given that I was surrounded by (childless) TV and multimedia types glowing with enthusiasm for this educational and thoroughly worthwhile project for the kiddies. It was a throwaway comment that made all the difference, that exposed what it was really all about:

"It's the heroin addiction model"


Well, as it turned out, education and entertainment were secondary considerations in the commissioning of this popular children's programme. "We need to get children hooked on the brand from an earlier age so that they'll be loyal consumers later in life" was the actual rational for spending a small fortune on programming for pre-verbal infants in nappies. Publically it was all about "early years education" and "developmentally appropriate on-screen learning".  Of course.

Not my children, I thought.

And so, we're a TV-free household.

We're not completely weird Luddite freaks - we do have computers and watch dvds, but rarely. A few times a year my husband and I will watch something online, but it usually only serves to reinforce our view that TV is rubbish. Screen based entertainment features very low in our familiy's life, in large part because we just don't have the time. We're busy doing all the things that people don't do when they're watching TV, and nobody is hooked on "the brand".

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