TV is an “Essential Good”

By , February 5, 2009 9:33 pm

I am depriving my children of an “essential good.”

In Brazil, I might be prosecuted in court.  Did anyone hear this little NPR blurb yesterday?

A Brazilian man missed out on soccer matches, the news and a “popular reality show,” when a store did not replace his faulty TV.  The judge found in favor of the man, ruling that in modern times, TV is an “essential good.”

Are those of us who do not have TV in our homes, guilty of child abuse?  Are we depriving our little ones of an “essential good?”

What about those whose children (TV in the house or not) miss Sponge Bob, Hannah Montana and PBS.  OK, Sponge Bob and Hannah Montana are arguable…but PBS?  What about Discovery?  Is censorship of our children depriving them of an “essential good?”

Am I depriving my children of educational/cultural experiences by not having TV at all?

I wish we could elect to get a few select Discovery Channel, National Geographic, PBS, History Channel shows without receiving all the other stuff.  But even those channels can be edgy at times.  We were away recently and the only thing on History (or was it Discovery?) was the history of torture devices.  Another of those educational channels had a show about Hitler.

I am not depriving my children by having a TV-free home.  Culturally they get a lot on the playground:  they know about Sponge Bob and Hannah Montana.  As far as education goes, my kids get a huge amount of that from school and reading books, just like kids did before TV.

Am I depriving my children of an “essential good?”  Personally, I think not.

15 Responses to “TV is an “Essential Good””

  1. That Brazil ruling is amazing! You are doing great – I know my girl learns much more from the time I spend with her, even if it’s not “educational” time, than from her educational DVDs…

    Mozi Esme’s Mommys last blog post..Thursday 13 – Things We Miss

  2. Elisa says:

    let me preempt by saying that i do not have children-yet. i grew up semi-unplugged – we could only watch PBS and whatever movies my parents found suitable, and NO video games at all. i LIKED it! now that i am an adult, i dont rely on the TV or video games (although we have a wii) to keep me entertained. so on the TV being “essential”, that is just ludicrous.

    i think that it IS essential to take the opportunity to bring kids out for concerts so that they can learn to appreciate the works of *talented* musicians and composers. music was a bigger deal for me growing up than TV was.
    ok, my two cents are done :)


    Elisas last blog post..Texas Tote, Clutch

  3. Danielle says:

    Wow! All I can say is wow. I can’t believe TV is considered an “essential good”. We do watch TV here, but I wish I never started it with my almost 6 year old!

    Danielles last blog post..So, I got to thinking…

  4. tonya says:

    What they will miss are ads telling then they MUST have this toy , dress like this person , or that
    (* gulp!*) sex scene in a primetime show!!

    All the “good” seems to get outweighed by the “bad”. Why take the chance?

  5. Mister Dad says:

    yeah, but Spongebob just funnier than real people…

    just kidding. my guys grew up on TV and movies, and learned some hilarious language and how to use it in context right off the box.

    nowadays, i have them keep it balanced– for every 1/2 hr you’re watching TV or on the computer, you gotta put in 1/2 hr of physical activity and 1/2 hr of engaged learning.

    but i do look forward to our scheduled unplugged weekends. and feel much better after the break from phone, TV, radio, artificial lights and EMF overloads. and there’s nothing like a good family game, “except maybe a MLT, when the mutton’s sliced nice and thin…”

    Mister Dads last blog post..Don’t Loose Your Marbles

  6. jess says:

    I agree with you wholeheartedly… but I might be a bit biased, as my son (age 3) doesn’t watch any t.v. and his half-sister (9) doesn’t watch any when she’s with us. I also refuse to buy products branded with t.v. or movie characters (let me tell you, it’s hard to find little boy underwear without something from Disney on them!). And yet, my kids can tell you who Elmo and Winnie-the-Pooh and Thomas the Tank Engine are, from books other people buy them or from talking with other kids. What I hope they’re NOT getting is the violence, sexuality, language, focus on commercial goods and other inappropriate things that permeate the airwaves. If having access to all these is “good” then I’m perfectly content being a “bad” mommy, and will remain so until the courts find me personally!

    jesss last blog meme

  7. Cindy says:

    I just want to say — i love you. and i am so glad you are here saying what I am thinking.

    Cindys last blog post..Ice Storm

  8. Susana says:

    Your kids are very blessed and so enriched, awesome! Have a great weekend.

  9. Summer says:

    That’s just crazy! I can’t imagine TV being called essential.

    Summers last blog post..Another Reason I’m Glad I Homeschool: Bullies On The Bus

  10. Sarah says:

    As a child we did not even get a TV until I was at least seven and then it was extremely limited. I believe we are better for it and did not miss out on much. I am currently trying to get my children out of the habit of overusing the TV and often read the posts on your weekly unplugged activities and has given us heaps of ideas to keep my children occupied.

  11. liz. says:

    One thought for all of us Unplugged folks. Even our President Barak Obama (Yes We Can!!!) recognizes that television does serve a purpose — one of the first things he did as president was delay the upgrade of the all telly transmissions — so that people will have time to upgrade…….Like with everything…..judicious moderation….

  12. WhyMommy says:

    What a bizarre ruling!

    If you simply said, “no TV” and did nothing to engage your children, then maybe. But you don’t. You have crafts, ideas, experiments, and creativity to share with them and encourage their growth … adding up to much, much more than Sponge Bob and Hannah Montana.

    The ruling is good for a laugh, though.

    WhyMommys last blog post..Pink cake

  13. Alicia says:

    We’re a TV house. I grew up in a home where we had a TV but I was only allowed to watch a select few shows and I used to sneak TV the way some kids sneak candy. :) I must admit that I prefer the quiet most of the time but I also love “my” shows and my kids are the same.

    We watch some shows together that are educational and enriching– “How it’s Made” to “CyberChase” (a math cartoon on PBS) to “A Home for the Holidays” (my 10 y/o looks forward all year to this show highlighting foster care and adoption stories). Others are pure junk but we really enjoy them.

    I try to keep everything in moderation here, from food to fun. Our kids spend much of their time playing, reading, inventing, exploring, making art, helping and learning. TV is a fun piece of life for them and I’m okay with that.

    I certainly don’t think it’s essential or that it’s bad to have a TV-free home. I think it’s great! This just works for us.

    Alicias last blog post..Random Happiness

  14. Interesting point. My mom limited my tv drastically as I grew up, and yes, I do think it effected me. Was it a bad thing? I’m not sure. I think I turned into a responsible adult. I was a social outcast in high school though. Since I didn’t get to watch the popular tv shows of the time, I didn’t keep up with current events (the ones important to high schoolers), I didn’t know the actor or actresses name on fill-in-blank- tv show. I didn’t get the jokes or the comments made. So, I turned inward and didn’t have many friends. Not being part of the popular group, was it a bad thing? I’m now happily married with 2 children and a house. I’m happy and have a lot of friends. I do watch a lot of tv though… and I enjoy talking about the shows I watch with friends.

    Amanda Dittlingers last blog post..New Office

  15. Nydia says:

    Hello! I’m a Brazilian mom of a sweet five-and-a-half little boy, and I fell in love with your blog! … I didn’t know about this news! The man is right in wanting to get his brand-new tv perfectly working, but calling tv a essential good is too much for me!! Yes, we have a tv and my son loves Sponge Bob and Discovery Kids, but we limit his time in front of tv and I’m constantly giving him fun, creative things to make with me.
    I admire your life style, and I’ll come here often to get new ideas for my little witch!

    Kisses from Nydia.

    Nydias last blog post..Having fun in the mountain city

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