I Don’t Like Television

I don’t like TV. It’s not that I don’t enjoy an occasional program or movie, but really I think the harm significantly outweighs the benefits.

My dislike of TV began in high school. My mom was stressed. She watched a lot of TV. It got to the point where she was shushing me if I tried to talk to her or anyone else even during the commercials. My sister and I used to go around our high school declaring that TV was evil. I explained it much the same way I’m explaining it now. Some of the programs can be good, but it distracts people from real life.

Now if music is haraam because it distracts people from their religious obligations (I’m not making a statement here about the permissability or impermissability of music. I’m just repeating what some people say.), I would think that TV is far worse. It definitely distracts people from their obligations and wastes their time.

Obviously, people who spend more time watching TV, spend less time doing other things. They are less productive. I have seen research that suggests that they may be relaxed while they are watching, but they are more stressed overall. They are more likely to be depressed. They are less social.

I didn’t want a TV. This is something my husband and I were in agreement on at the beginning of our marriage. He said he could watch everything he wanted online, and it gave him more control of the content (As a side note, this does show that people can misrepresent themselves before marriage, revert to old habits, or simply change during the course of a marriage.).

Then Bangladesh happened. He spent 6 years there, sitting in his parents’ house, watching TV. Now pretty much all my husband likes to do with his spare time is watch things on TV/online.

All the same, we agreed during my pregnancy when we were finally getting our own apartment that we didn’t want a TV. My mom got us one for Christmas (my parents are not Muslim). We both left her house feeling upset because we did not want a TV. Eventually my husband made me tell her we did not want it in hopes she would be able to return it, but she said it was too late, and she would find some use for it. It sat unused in my mom’s house for 3 months. My husband decided he wanted it after all. Still we went another 2 months without it, so the first 3 months of Baby’s life we had no TV.

My husband said he wanted the TV, but he absolutely didn’t want cable because he didn’t want our child being exposed to the content on cable TV. Guess what? Now we have cable. He said at first it was only so he could get more sports channels and watch soccer, but when my husband is home/awake my home is filled with endless episodes of Southpark, Law and Order, Pawn Stars, etc.

I didn’t want my baby watching TV at all before the age of 2. This is a real minimum. Many pediatricians say four. The reason is simple. Watching things on a screen at all is not good for them regardless of the content. It distracts them from learning about the real world. You can read more about that in David Elkind’s The Power of Play. He says that while TVs and computers may have some minor (not comparable to real world) educational value for older children, they have no place at all in infancy. The screen itself is bad for them. Period. Limit your child’s screen time.

Now I have to contend with the content too. During an episode of Southpark, during which I see cartoon men hopping around on their giant testicles, hear lewd jokes, and hear references to male private parts several times, I comment to my husband, while looking at our sleeping child that he will have to be more careful about watching these things when she is old enough to understand. He agrees. I know he really does agree, but I also know it won’t happen.

Law and Order is the kind of program that draws me in. I end up watching it even when I’m just passing through. But I don’t really want my child seeing a program about murders and sexual abuse, and I have better uses for my time.

The same way I believe that hearing Quran is already beneficial, i believe that these things are already harmful, and they are harmful to us, not just our child.

Regardless of content, that constant background drone that so many people seem to enjoy is annoying to me. A TV disrupts the tranquility of a home.

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