the pre-tv generations archive

"What do you do," people ask, "if you don't watch television?" One of our members has five kids. "How do you manage?" people ask her "without children’s TV?" - as if humans spent 250 thousand years waiting for Barney.

Who cares about "the first iPod generation"? Chances are they'll be intolerably dull. What about the last generations of people to live in a world without television? How did they live, and what are we about to lose forever?

White Dot is compiling an archive of memories and advice from anyone who remembers life before TV.    Please help us add to it!

If you grew up before TV, or know someone who did, please tell us what has changed. Details details! We want to know what people did to relax, play, think alone or gather together a gang. All the parenting and social skills that TV is taking away.

what it was likeaccording to
I am autistic and due to where I live being so boring and dull & people are so clicky meaning it is hard for me to make any friends I find that TV , Streaming , Music & internet greatly enhance my life. It is not TV that is at fault it is what you watch . Soaps , Reality type TV & so-called Talent shows & general daytime TV do give Television a very bad name but there is some very entertaining shows and documentaries out there . It is just a shame that the TV that the majority go for gives it a bad name.
Steve From Atherstone , North Warwickshire
As a boy born in 1952 we were outside all the time, almost as if we weren't welcome indoors except in prolonged rain. No snacks - I don't remember being hungry though. Climbing trees, bareback riding other peoples horses, poaching fish, river swimming, lots of fires, roasting potatoes in their skin not foil, helping Dad with his allotments, train spotting, putting pennies on the railway line to stamp them with passing trains, stamp collecting, reading books, making dens, digging out long tunnels, observing the chicks growing in our collection of nests each spring, rescuing injured animals eg owls, war games, marbles, visiting ancient aunts in their time frozen parlours, choir singing for two and six each Sunday, scrumping, collecting fallen walnuts, sledging, cycling. We certainly did things which would now be considered dangerous or anti social, we weren't afraid of strangers. We were aware of who the 'toffs' were. Never missed school only dobbed off once or twice. 'Ran away' from home once or twice.
It was a varied and healthy existence and of course I remember being bored at times which I guess is a normal feature of development. As more of my friends had TVs I remember playing more on my own as they stayed in and eventually I spent more time in their houses fascinated by the moving pictures eg The Lone Ranger. We succumbed around the time of Kennedy's assassination. I still see TV as an intruder -great for slobbing out brain dead for a while but essentially a lousy companion with it's psychotic tendency to flicker from topic to topic with no continuity and it's inability to hold a thought or emotion. Sorry - I have just read the above - I did not realise this was for children - oh well here it is anyway.
Fred from rural Hampshire. UK
We did not have our own TV set until I was 7 or 8 years old. So I spent my time as young child reading, listening to my 78 RPM phonograph or building things with my Tinkertoy set.

When we moved to a large city, we had a TV set, but when it broke down, it was sometimes awhile before it got repaired, so I would play board games with my neighborhood friends. If by myself I would read or build things with my Erector Set (similar to a Meccano set in the UK).

If it was nice outside we would ride our bicycles or build skate boards out of old roller skates and ride those. If the weather was warm we would have water balloon fights. We were allowed to stay outside until the street lights came on at dusk, that was our signal that it was time to go home for dinner.
Bob from United States
I am interesed from this project.
anonymous from anytown
I was born in 1978, so television has always been there, even after I decided to avoid it. I remember seeing representatives of White Dot promote the book Get A Life on late night Channel 4 when I was 19. I thought it was quirky, seeing the idea of giving up TV being mocked by Iain Lee. Two years later, I noticed that watching TV wasn't so gratifying any more and wondered how to fill my free time. I joined a local social club and was their publicity officer I sang in productions for an operatic society and became a councillor on a local council. I also sing a capella at folk clubs and try to make the most of my life. I don't mean to brag and boast, but my life has definitely changed for the better after giving up TV.

People who try to live without TV are fighting a battle that is nigh on impossible to win in a way it's like living on the fringes of civilisation. But it is a lot of fun!There are so many things I couldn't have done if my time was gobbled up by what White Dot called a piece of furniture back in 1998. I wish everyone at White Dot and all those who live without TV good luck.
John from Essex, UK
I was born in 1953 in Sri Lanka (Ceylon at the time)and lived there until I was 26. I then moved to Australia.
Due to the Socialist type Government of Ceylon at the time, TV was introduced in to the country only in 1978.
So yes, all of my childhood and young adulthood was spent without TV. That applied to all 15 million residents of Sri Lanka at the time.
So what's it like to grow up without TV? Looking back, I think it was great. I have life-long friendships with most of my childhood friends because of it (lack of TV).
As children we would come home from school, and all the neighborhood children would meet either at a nearby park or simply under a big tree. I remember a particular mango tree that had two horizontal branches one over the other. We would pretend that this was a double-deck bus. the two branches were the two decks of the bus. The kid on the lower branch sitting right at the edge was the driver, and he made the noise of the bus with his mouth. Then there was a "conductor" from whom all the other kids had to buy pretend tickets by paying pretend money - to get on to the bus.
We would also go riding on our bicycles. Sometimes we would save our pocket money and buy a jar of lacquer paint and paint our bicycles in different colors.
Another favourite past time was catching tiny fish in streams and ponds and putting them in jars and trying to keep them as pets in a jar at home.
As we got older and in our teens, the boys would compete with each other to attract the girls. Beatle haircuts Beatle-boots were the thing with me at least, and the girls would in turn wear the skimpiest minis. Some of the boys would have Elvis haircuts which the Beatle boys would think were not as cool as their hair! Taking a girl to the movies was a great achievement. Kissing a girl when the theater lights were switched off was the best thing!
Then in to our young working life, it was a great achievement to buy a motorcycle. After a couple of years, a second hand car - usually one that needed a lot of fixing to keep going. Again because we didn't have TV, we could spend a whole lot of time fixing our cars!
During the week we would go to work by bus because we would save the money for the week end when we would go out with friends to "house parties" where each one would bring their favorite Vinyl records, play them on a record player and generally have a great time - often till the wee hours of the morning. Generally there were a few guys in the crowd who would not drink. They had the job of driving all the others home.
In the late 60's and early 70's "Discos" were where we would go on the week-ends.
Watching a cricket match "live" meant that you went to the cricket ground and watched the match. Myself, I was (and still I am) a fan of motor racing. It was a great day out to go to the motor races with friends.
Sri Lankans in their 60's, 70's and 80's must be the last people on earth who grew up without TV. Maybe some sociologist should do a study of us to find out what, if any differences are there between us and the generations after us!
Nimal from Sri Lanka
I didn't have TV from the age of about 14 when my dad got rid of it. About 5 years later he wanted to get it back and we all said NO! Luckily I was just about to move out and go to university so I left home and they got it back. I didn't have TV when I was at uni, but got one later. Then got rid of it again and did another 5 years sting without. I can't say it makes a lot of differnce to my life, I don't watch it every night. I wish my kids would watch less.
I grew up learning to do a lot of different things because I had the time + boredom to try things. I find I'm one of the few of my generation who still knows how to make things with my hands. I also went around to freinds houses a lot so it was more sociable. I really wish I could get rid of it again but my kids would probably kill me! Also because of the internet they can watch what they want on their phones anyway.
anonymous from anytown
Adventure. Risk that doesn't harm anyone. When I was 9 or 10 the tiny homes across the street were being raised to make room for more substantial dwellings. After the inhabitants moved out, the abandoned houses were a great place for exploration. This is post-war Germany in the 1950s. One evening, my brother and I made a fire in one of the openings to the chimney, where the pipe stove had been removed. It gave us a great sense of adventure and facilitated transporting ourselves in our minds to far flung, isolated locales where we sat by the fire and ate rabbit meat.
Ingrid from Wuppertal in Germany
Kick the can is the best game ever invented.
anonymous from anytown
I'm not an "older adult" - I'm in my late 30s. However, my family is television-free, and as I'm raising essentially "pre-tv" children I can speak a bit to the "what do you do" question. My wife and I have two children, ages four and six.

To begin, my children have no trouble figuring out what to do... they simply play, from 7:00 in the morning until 10:00 at night. During the day they mostly play together, outdoors if the weather permits, indoors otherwise. They have a fair number standard toys - blocks, stuffed animals, Lego, as well as a collection of miscellaneous interesting-shaped bits of metal, bolts, springs and so forth that they make things from. They also do a fair bit of drawing and are starting to write. They also help with our domestic animals - we raise rabbits for meat and chickens for meat and eggs in the backyard of our suburban home. In the evenings, we make and eat dinner together, then play board games and read until it is time for all of us go to bed we do both just about every night. A couple nights a week the family goes to a Judo class together.

It all sounds a bit prosaic, but the truth is that our simple life keeps us so busy that we hardly have the time to do the things that we want, much less watch television. Last night, for example, I'd intended to do a little hobby programming, but instead ended up plucking and butchering a chicken that hadn't got back to the coop early enough and was waylaid by a raccoon. My 6-year-old daughter watched and helped, and we didn't get to bed until 10:30 even though we skipped washing the dishes.

As far as my wife and I are concerned, we home-school our children which takes up a fair bit of time for planning and activities and so forth. She also is a hobbyist blacksmith, and I have a small machine shop that I don't get to play in enough. I contribute to some open-source software projects. We make things - we make jam, and pickles, and can tomatoes and peaches and we hunt in the fall and butcher our own meat. In the summer we grow a big garden. In winter, we do nordic skiing or snowshoeing on the weekends and that takes up additional time in the evenings too, waxing skis and so forth. At bedtime, we sing songs to our kids, and it always seems to take 45 minutes or so just to get them settled in.

With all of that, we do seem to suffer from the modern affliction that it feels impossible to slow down, or have enough time to think. I've books on my nightstand that I've managed barely more than a few pages of in months, and I go to bed tired out every night. At the same time, I wouldn't be happy doing less... at least with the things we do, everything has a purpose and a product that it's easy to take satisfaction in.

KN, Boulder, Colorado USA
the feeling of security around other people. The natural creativity that wasn't always a product of overstimulated, or overfilled minds.
The freedom to forget 'needing' to be somewhere and instead just doing things here, without worrying about every small consequence.
I watched TV as a child, throughout my childhood and although I wasn't pre-tv, we went out a lot more (friends, siblings)in the fields and such, and played many different roles to keep us occupied.
You could paint for hours and not have to worry about the right way to do things. You didn't need to always compete so much either.
Now everything is becoming such a hodgepodge that it's hard to 'focus' on a point, without getting sidetracked or distracted by something else. Anything can be anything these days and you can be creative being, and doing literally anything without any authenticity, and what perhaps was once (and in a minority, very small minority today) in the arts an expression of the dark humour, the ironic humour, or the apparent beauty of life and for many people just plain old goodness - like baking a cake, or drawing a vase of flowers (sounds cliche but it's very true) is now tuning into a new channel - the channel of destruction is the channel also of the abstract, the mix of anachronism, falsity and pretentiousness with a dose of it being easy to play down, and using twisted moralisms as a weapon on a sedated mind, a sedated body, a sedated identity.

It is so furiously mixed up that it can't even get on the stand to deny or not deny something is wrong/dull or irritating or grating to the human senses and nervous system.
Instead it goes 'so, we're here, this is the new generation, this is the hipster-hipster-hipster's of hipster age, so what, get over it....?' with a sarcastic question mark.
Yea I noticed. I keep noticing, but if 'noticing' is the only thing to KEEP doing, what ELSE is there to do? Everything is meant to be open minded now. But it's become a brand like everything else.
Be New Age, be open minded, buy my debut CD.
Buy my misc. Get my new t-shirt by Eckart Toll.
Watch Jim Carey stare at you on a youtube video and waste 1 minute of your time, feeling him 'emanate pure love' at you with all the suggestion in the world.
Whilst he's still living a very good life with all the money in the world too. And this spiritual stuff is so far away from just going down to the woods somewhere as kids and not feeling the residual fear that spirituality can thrust upon you, and yet it 'all' seems so simple.
You know.
anonymous for now
Although I was born in 1958 I'm afraid to say that I grew up with television and my mother liked to watch it all evening as she could do that and knit at the same time. However it was only black and white television until I was fourteen so not so interesting to watch. We only had the Radio Times delivered to our door from the local newsagent and at the time it showed only programmes on BBC One and Two so we didn't know what was on ITV apart from looking in the newspaper and finding out that day's programmes. There wasn't much in the way of children's programmes which started at around 4.30 pm and ended at 6 pm. Then we had tea while the news was on and watched a sit com with the family afterwards. I was also into watching sport as well as sometimes there was nothing else on. So basically I grew up watching adult programmes as there were no special children's channels. However when we went away on holiday self catering it was television free or the television was coin operated so we only watched the occasional programme. We listened to the radio instead. When I became an adult most pubs had juke boxes in them not television sets and the more upmarket pubs that served food and coffee had no music or television.
Lemsip from Cardiff
I was born in 1960 in South Yorkshire in England and was about 5 years old when TV appeared in my life. My parents lived with my paternal family and so my earliest memories are about trailing after older children who took me everywhere. The playgrounds were the streets immediately outside the front door and the fields on which there are now private housing estates. Though TV appeared when I was 5 having it in the house was more of a status symbol that something I used regularly, that did not come until we moved into one of the prestigious private housing estates and there was no-one to play with as they were all glued to their status symbols. This happened when i was about 12.Until then long summer nights and quite a lot of the winter ones too if we could get out, were spent playing street wide communal games with all the other kids on the street. kick can,football, british bull dog, hide and seek, statues, stealing bonfire wood from each others gardens in November or playing war games (anyone under 8 was german whether they liked it or not), making dens and lying in said fields just watching clouds drift past, making daisy chains, throwing sticks in streams, watching bugs drag stuff around the fields, endless boredom which had to be endured but if you went home your mother would find something for you to do so you just lay there. Hours and hours of it. It wasn't all idyllic by any means, we fought and fell out with each other like all children but there was a sense of being able to roam that we all knew staying inside to watch TV was purgatory until we could get outside again and meet up with other kids.

TV was a way our parents controlled us, punishment was ironically having to stay inside and watch TV on a sunny day and not be allowed out to play.

When I got to university in 1979 the first thing I did was get rid of the TV. I didn't have one until 2000 when my mother bought my then 8 year old son one for his birthday. She couldn't bear him not having one. Overnightthis kid who made stuff everywhere turned into a zombie and the TV was back. After she'd bought him 3 TV's I gave up trying as he was hooked by the so I hat to outwait it and her. However, when he went to university in September 2010,the TV was the first thing to go. Bliss, just like old times.
Lynne from Sheffield
anonymous from anytown
I grew up having a TV set. I watched it because I was mostly alone. My brothers and sisters are much older than me and didn´t want to play with a little child.Also, my parents left me alone to play with myself, and TV was the easiest thing around.
But at family vacations we went to grandma´s house up in the hills, where there was no tv. There adults, young adults and children were always together. We did all kinds of things. We gathered wood, cooked, walked by the lake, fed the chickens... I spent time with everyone and it was great. I think the best thing of not having a TV around so much is that you get to know the people near you.
Children like to participate in normal adult activities, even if it is "cleaning the house", as long as there is a lively conversation going on and the child can really make a connection.
I am trying to talk to people around me about giving up tv, but they are very resistant. The most resistant are those with kids. They say things like: "I dont know what to do with them when I have housework or cooking to do... whem I have to wash my car or mow the lawn." Well, get your kids involved. Let them help you. Don´t just dump the chores on them and go away. Children love their parents and want to be with them and do things together. They don´t mind washing your car or stirring a pot... they just want to do it together.
metropolis girl
The best years of my life occured when I first started college. I was a full time student with a heavy courseload and a part time job. I spent my time in philosophical debates with my peers, playing the wonderful grand piano in the dormitory commons, and hoofin' it to and from class, clubs, and the tennis court. I don't remember having a TV in college, or seeing one around. I am grateful for that!
anonymous from anytown
After my siblings and I hit puberty, my family spent most of its time in front of the television set.
Prior to that era, most of my memories from childhood include riding my bike (and doing stunts), hanging with neighbor friends, swimming all summer long, impromptu baseball games with kids we just met, inventions, building, exploring nature, laughing and making each other laugh. We played Spy, Can't Touch the Ground, and other games requiring intense creativity, agility, and espionage.
Then something just turned off inside of us. Video games became a daily escape immediately after school. How many hours did it take to master Mario Brothers? A better question would be how many weeks.

The TV years sucked. I think at some point things got so stressful that my parents needed an escape. We were "forced" to participate with the family - which meant "come watch TV with us." They didn't have the coping skills they needed to deal with everything going on. You know what? They still don't.

I believe a big part of them not "moving on" with life is because they are still glued to the set.

I hate TV and I hate that my wife wastes 3 hours every evening glued to it.

I feel ignored, distracted and annoyed. Something has to change. I will definately not being renewing our network subscription.
anonymous from anytown
The ability to make small talk and learn interesting things about other people.
Wendy from Wichita
I remember when I was very young I used to go to my Greatgrandmas' house. She had an old television. Really old. It was a large wooden cabinet with a very small round screen. Black and white of course. The cabinet was much taller than it was wide.It still worked and the sound was crackly. I was always fascinated by that set.This would've been in the late 60s'. I couldn't tell you how old that t.v. was. It looked like a museum piece. The house there had a large concrete porch which was nice and cool on hot summer nights. Just sit out there and listen to the evening,crickets,tree frogs and the like. There was a railroad salvage place down the road and we would walk down there a lot to see what the world had dropped there. She gardened and tended to her place with little to no t.v. just fine. Thank You.
Amber in Indiana now
I grew up in a very small town in the Ozarks thru the 60s' and 70s'. In that part of the country at that time there was only two t.v. stations at first. They broadcast in black and white. Then along came our third station KOLR out of Springfield, Mo. I think. It was the first color station I saw regularly. The t.v.( or idiot box as my mom called it) was only on for one hour during the day for my moms' soap opera watching pleasure. (Days of Our Lives)The news would be on come evening and it was mostly actually news. It seems there was less sensationalism. I remember seeing bodies in coffins coming off planes thru Viet Nam. They don't show you that now.My parents were always telling me that "they" tell lies and distored truths. To watch "them" carefully and to believe it when you see it. To always question those on the "boob tube". What did I do instead of t.v.? Wow. O.K. There was always work to be done somewhere around the place. Chores and such.I rode horses for chores and pleasure. With and without friends. Chores on horseback? Go get a BIG bag of Black Walnuts down by the lake, go get a bag of persimmons (you had to stand on the horses back to reach the fruit), go swimming with friends and we spent a lot I mean a lot of time out in the woods. The deep woods.My dad was quite the organic gardener before it was the in thing. Long before. I was taught to conserve and reuse everything. You go fishing and eat the fish yes but you also bury the rest of it in next years garden spot for fertilizer. You take used barn hay and let it soak in 55 gal. drums until after it "cooks" and use it for fertilizer. We grew grapes,strawberries ( a lot, enough for freezing), pears,cherries,apples,peaches, various veggies too. We made home made ice cream and watched stars in the summer. Chased lightening bugs.Watched the grass grow.Oh yeah and we raed actual books. Ones that didn't require a battery or charge of some sort. Even under the covers with a flashlight after bedtime.( o.k. that requirs a battery) Camping,fishing,hunting,seeing nature in ways a lot of people have never done. Sad for them. As we got older we ran backroads in muscle cars and went dirtbiking in the wilds. We would take our horses down to the tourist beach and make a little side money entertaining the tourists. Entreprenurial we were.I remember some t.v. stuff. The Jackson Five Show, Sonny and Cher, Bobby Goldsboro, Dean Martin.It was always clear in that house that the idiot box was just that. It was entertainment and for news. It would sit and not be on for days sometimes. Thank you for reminding me of these things. There are 5 televisions in this house. I am ashamed. I still grow my own garden although not on my folks' scale, I tend to my own yard and outside stuff. Still do my chores mostly. LOL I get up in the morning now and make a pot of coffee and turn on world news. It always upsets me. I WILL limit myself to two days a week from here on. Again Thank All Ya'll, Amber out.
Amber in Indiana now
I am 28 and grew up without TV. My sisters and I played OUTSIDE as often as possible. We read books, played dolls, made houses for our dolls and stables for our horses out of boxes. We played board games, climbed trees and were pioneer women and Egyptians by the Nile. We used our imaginations to be anyone, anywhere we chose. Thank you Mom and Dad!
anonymous from anytown
People who actually want to meet face to face as opposed to watching tv or being on facebook. I'm young and yet I wish I'd been born years ago because it's so hard to make and get hold of any real friends who will have 'time' to meet up.
Miss Uncool
Im a 22 year old mother of 2. I grew up without a tv and found plenty to do with my time. Mostly playing outdoors. My children were watching tv before I found this website and im glad I did. From the time I read the infomation on this website a week ago we have been cold turkey NO TV. I have noticed my 18 month old son to be more responsive and even saying a couple of new words. I don't miss it and he seems to be better off without it.
anonymous from anytown
My experience isn't as "wholesome" as the others on here, but I can say that I grew up without TV mostly, and that I had internet but only used it at night when everyone else went home.

I didn't have TV, cable, and my internet access was shoddy (and I'm currently 19 btw) But I did a bunch of things--I spent alot of time listening to music, I would read, I would play my flute, I would play chess, I would chisel wood on my front step to make things--basically, I found entertainment in the simplest of ways.

I hung out with the neighborhood kids alot, who'd also become my best friends; we would go to the teen center and play pool, go "aztec fishing" (with a spear), go to the gym to work out, smoke weed, drink and have good conversation, and walk around to people's houses to visit friends. we'd do that almost all day during the summer. I was never bored, I was never lonely, and I was actually pretty happy.
Steve from Santa Rosa
open air orgies
mr. proudhon.
I hate t.v. I was born in 1982, so TV has always been around me. Even though I am not that old, most of my memories were from all of the neighborhood kids playing sports. Tag football, baseball, anything. We could not throw our backpacks inside fast enough so that we could take off on our bikes to go play. Now, my wife and I have been without a TV for almost 2 years now every since our daughter was born and we love it. We rent movies from netflix and watch them after our daughter has gone to bed. We are very stressed though because it seems like we are up against the world. Both my wife and I's families are heavy TV watchers and give us a hard time about not having the TV on when we visit. It is like pulling teeth. Both this subject and not feeding our daughter junk has driven a wedge in our relationships with our families since she was born. I could say so much about the positive aspects of getting rid of TV but there simply isn't enough space. People now are drones who waste hours in front of a TV to watch shows they have to see, only to not remember what the show was about a week later. It's crazy. Instead of watching TV when we are together, my wife, kid, and I role around and play, take stroller rides,read books, and just learn. We walk around the house and teach her what random items are like an iron or the blinds to windows. And what a suprise, at 16 months, she knows so much. Her favorite things in the world are books, as opposed to my cousin's 3 year old who only wants TV show dvd's and carries around doritoes bags stuffing himself. Oh.. I need to stop. If there is anybody reading this that is on the fence, dump the TV, you won't regret it. Thanks..
Mike, age 28, from Georgia
For several years in my early 20's that I lived without TV with the exception of occasional movies. At that time I now realize I was more creative and had a lot of time on my hands to do what I needed to. My attention span could last longer too. Now that I am married and watch TV a lot with my husband in the evenings I am very forgetful and unmotivated. I want to spend time with him but he doesn't want to turn off the television and as long as its on it draws my attention too.
Brandi age 30 from TX
My great-grandfather was born in the 1880's in Southampton in England. He joined the British army as a teenager and was sent to Canada, where he got married and settled down. Unfortunately, WW I broke out the next year and he was called up and returned to Europe. According to family myth, he was gassed at Ypres but returned to the front after a short convalescence.
After the war, he returned to Canada, started a family with his wife who faithfully awaited for his return, and made his living as an egg and chicken farmer and occasional lumberjack and ice seller. He died in 1977 when he was in his 90's.
I remember visiting him during the 1970's when I was a small child. His house stood out in my mind because it was the only home I had been to that didn't have a TV.
The furniture in the living room was arranged in such a way to facilitate conversation and social interaction.
There was a German cuckoo clock on the wall which was the loudest thing inside his house--he lived on a farm very far from any road.
He drank rum or scotch straight or with water and only in moderation.
He always smoked a pipe.
The played the accordion and sang for entertainment. I was told he could play the bagpipes but never saw it myself.
He was the last person in the family who could play ANY musical instrument.
He planted a garden every year and was an organic gardener before the word was invented: he forbade the use of chemical fertilizers etc. I remember spending summer with my grandparents in the garden when I was a kid weeding by hand.
We also could eat the carrots pulled straight from the ground and washed with water from the hand pump in the house.
When he died, he got sick on a Friday and passed away on Sunday at home. Otherwise, he never got ill.
Compared to my grandparents, parents and even my generation (I was born in 1968), it was an enviable life, full, robust , healthy and happy and completely TV-free.
Tony B. Halifax, N.S., Canada
My family watches television constantly. The tv is always on regardless of whether or not anyone is in the room. As an adult, I have come to realize that tv is a time and energy sucker. It sucks the life out of your day. I cancelled cable and rent Netflix when I want to see a movie. I have so much more time, am healthier and get involved in real life.
Laura from N.Greenbush, NY
I was born in 1956. Untill I was about ten we had a black and white tv. I was not allowed to watch very much tv nor did I even want to. I was outside every day playing with my friends. Learning to ride my bike. Making huts in the woods and pretending the back of my fathers truck was a boat. Our little minds were always spinning on new ways to have fun and/or get into trouble. Like stealing my mothers lipstick when we decided it would be a great idea to play war and that bright red would make perfect blood. oh what trouble I was in then lol. Red lipstick does not come out of clothes.
I feel sad for todays kids, they have really missed out. People are too afraid to let their kids play outside, in some places its just not possible. TV has robbed us of our creativity and imaginations. I believe it to be the all time brain drain. Instead of doing we just sit and watch others do. Then we wonder why depression is at an all time high, frighteningly so among children. Exercise, fresh air and sunshine are the cures for that if you ask me.
Carol from Mass. USA
I was born in 1972, so I didn't grow up without TV. But, what do I remember about my childhood? My most vivid memories are of riding my bike around the neighborhood. Trying to fly a kite while riding my bike (didn't work out so well). Jumping little ramps with my bike. Walking down to a small wooded area outside my school. Soccer, basketball, and football practice, and games.

As for TV, I remember the Brady Bunch, Happy Days, and Dukes of Hazard. I don't think I could tell you any of the actual stories on the shows though. I wonder what more I would have done if there were no TV?
David, St. Clair Shores, Michigan
we had a power cut in london a few months ago for 3 days,,after the first day everybody was out knocking on peoples houses an making sure there nabours were ok,,making sure the elderly had war soup an bread after the 2nd day everybody was talking again an said how funny this was if we had no electric we would al be wrapped up in our houses,,but the truth is it would be the tv they would be wrapped up in,,an everybosy caught up with each other an belive it or not when the power came on nobody cam out again,,
what my point here is switching off tv for a week is nuthing we should bann tv completly,,we ae humands for gods sake people what has become of our minds,,weve lost our heads in tv an dont look for anything as to solve this problem but as to turn the channel over????

insted of driving parking walking round the super markets queing then cooking or microwaving the food..
walk into your garden dig out the greens an what els you fancy wash them an cook from home from the garden,,quicker an easier then supermarket shopping,,
get back to our lifes..tasting food trying new foods knowing how to do things like cook an grow food from home.. make must know befor your 10 years of age..
an no food with bright colours an barcodes on it..
talla from south london
I rode horses, read books, played scrabble and bridge.
american quilter.
Hi, I'm Australian, under 40 and grew up without TV except for the odd occasion when my parents hired one in order to watch a BBC series (every couple of years). I roamed the neighbourhood with a gang of other kids aged 5 - 10, we had our own world that didn't include our parents,it was "us against them". Of course until dinner time, when we became civilized again. As we grew older we read - and read and read and read! My children don't have tv and also spend a lot of time reading. They do have the internet, we have two Macs and they use them quite creatively, but they don't spend much time on them. Neither are interested in video games at all. My 8 year old boy will come home from his friends house if the boys start playing x box. He says it's stupid. I love living without tv, my life doesn't revolve around a tv schedule. People tell me they "need" tv for their kids, as if their kids would somehow overwhelm them with their needs if they didn't have the tv babysitting them. I find this very weird, my kids are independant and able to entertain themselves BECAUSE they don't have tv. It's the kids that are used to having their brains addled that become whingey and clingy when it's turned off.
I feel like an outsider in my own generation......
Jennie from Byron Bay, Australia
i'm french. i was born in 1980 and my parents didn't have any tv.
i remenber, after school, i went back at home and had a small snack. i worked for a very short time and then went out : playing with my neighboors, my sister or alone (i created imaginary worlds and friends and stories that i shared next with my real friends).
In the evening, my parents called me to come back home. i helped them to set the table and then we shared a dinner, talking about what we did during the day, at school for me and at work for them. we talked about many things.
sometimes we played to board games or watch pictures or slides (on a slide projector). during the week end, we organised small outdoor games with friends or picnics. i played a lot with my sister, like role playing or football-rugby game (we created that!). i also read a lot (and i still do ot!) particularly before to sleep.
i can remenber people outside in the evening. i grew up in a small village in Provence. i played and ran my bike and walked in the whole village alone (i mean without any adults) because everybody was outside and knew me and my family and could protect me in case...
it was peacefull and exciting (to meet friends and play for hours!).
i don't want to look backward everytime but i really think tv is breaking many things in our societies and avoid people to think by themselves, to communicate all together. and a lot of problems come from tv.
and we could live better without tv. we could live without tv. that's all. sorry for my english. and thanks for the website!
Laure from Rocbaron, France
My grandfather worked when he was a child. He was a farmer. The most fun thing he talks about was using sod to block the creek & then swimming in the pond they made. Life is just a lot different now.

I think you should also have a current-generation archive and split these stories between it. I have friends with kids & no TV, and they read books all the time, the way I did when I was young. But it does take a lot more parenting time. The parents have decided it is worth giving up some of their own hobbies, and also worth having grandparents around a lot.
Joanna from Illinois
I'm still 22 and I'm raised in a family with TV. I'm the only family member who doesn't watch TV for more than 2 hours a week. I don't know how did I become like that since my parents are avid TV watchers. but I'm glad because that way I can do a lot of things I enjoy.

I read a lot, I still do snail mail correspondence and stamps collecting, I learned crochet by myself, cross stitch, creative writing, playing with my own minds - making up silly theories and exploring anything that can be hidden in my own mind, stargazing, watching people quietly from the bench outside, listening to good music they never play on TV... so much fun, and those activities certainly require no TV.

I don't need TV, and my future child will be a lucky one to be raised in a small TV-free family.
Fei Rose from Indonesia
My dad was a headteacher and he also played the fiddle. One of my earliest memories was seeing him play on the Sooty show. It was most probably 1953. I can remember we walked up to Mrs Francis's house, she was a dinner lady at our school to see dad on television as we didn't have one. It was really exciting seeing my dad on television and I can remember lots of balloons falling down as he played at the end of the show. Walking home I asked mam, "Does Mrs Francis earn more than dad?" Mam said, "No. Dad earns more than Mrs Francis." Me, "Why don't we have a television?" I think we eventually got on in 1956.
Mari from Brighton, UK
Like M., I'm under 30. Still I've noticed a marked change from my younger days.

Back when I was a kid, I played basketball with the other kids in the neighborhood or we'd have street hockey in the driveway. I was on a local kids' soccer team and practiced three nights a week. If I didn't want to play, I'd still go outside and sit a little on the porch, reading.

I also loved listening to rebroadcasts of old radio plays, and occasionally some newer fare. I liked "Fibber McGee and Molly", "Inner Sanctum", "The Shadow", tending to appreciate the mysteries and horror stories a little more than the comedies. They also ran then-almost contemporary series like "Nightfall".

All this early reading and listening to radio plays left me with a well-developed visual imagination. Sometimes it was too well developed. I felt faint reading the story of the death of Old Dan the hunting dog in "Where the Red Fern Grows". Very embarrassing for me, since I was reading it out loud in class! But this problem aside, so many boys and girls, even young people in their early twenties, lack an ability to conceive of an image they haven't already seen on television.

It amazes me how much people in fairly safe suburban neighborhoods have convinced themselves that they're fundamentally unsafe and it's better to leave the children outside, stifling on Nintendo and television, rather than "risk" letting them go outside to find their own entertainment. I grew up in the heart of a large city, in a working class neighborhood, and we never had the fear I see in people from gated communities far to the east and north of San Diego.

So while television is part of the problem, we also need to convince fairly well-to-do parents to stop hovering over their children out of fear and possessiveness. For good measure, have them tune into the occasional tinny-sounding old radio play if they can find one: it's good for the mind.
Kevin from San Diego
We are missing the opportunity (not the limitation) of adding our own sound effects, crash sounds, skidding sounds, to the movement of our Dinky and Corgi toys. These are now arbitrarily (and pretty poorly) provided by chips and ratty little speakers.

We are missing the notion of exploration. Of turning the neighbourhood, and especially the vacant lot, into everything from a battleground to an ancient Mayan ruin.

We rarely have a chance today to take a couple of 2 x 4's, other scrap wood, wheels off an old lawn mower, and create a go-kart powered either by a friend who pushes, or by a nearby hill. That's how we learned about tightening bolts and lock nuts and castellted nuts with cotter pins... about essential physics (OUCH!!!). Today, of course, it's all battery powered, complete, again, with dumbass sound effects.

Our generation would be dumbfounded by the "Dollar Store" notion (it would have been the "Nickel Store" back in the late fifties and early sixties. What a gold mine for the imagination and the creation of toys and games.
mike hicks from Ottawa, Canada
Well, we learned how to entertain ourselves without the benefit of a screen to look at!
Kids spent time outdoors, on foot and on bicycles, and outdoor games like Kick the Can and baseball were played almost daily. We took our toys outside and played together, pooling our resources and doubling the fun. People who had front porches spent time on them every evening in good weather. Adults read more than they do today, and the big time entertainment at home was radio. The radio came in an important looking cabinet and was placed in the living room, where the family listened to it together most evenings. Radio gave you the storyline and stimulated your imagination to do the rest. The closest I come to that experience now, is when listening to an audiobook on my car radio. When I reached high school I got my own radio and was very proud of it. It was an ivory-colored Silvertone (Sears) portable - which meant it had a handle on top so you could carry it around, but you still had to plug it in. Record players were important too, and since you could only play one disc at a time, they required a lot of tending. Outside the home, of course, the movies dominated entertainment and most people I knew went every week.

Now I watch TV for awhile most evenings, never in the daytime, and rely mostly on DVD entertainment minus the tedious commercials. But I still turn it OFF when I'm into a good book.
anonymous from Louisville, KY
Girls did embroidery, sewing, mending, played the card game-Authors, poker, Monopoly,
played dolls, house in winter time. In norhtern states during winter and snow bikes were stored in basement where we would attempt to ride around was limited but we missed our bikes. We had Nancy Drew Book Reading Contests over the 3 MONTH SUMMER BREAK JUNE, JULY, AUGUST and did not return to school until after Labor Day in September each year. TV naturally went off about 11pm with Star Spangled Banner playing and a waving American Flag or Military group holding a flag.
You were forced to read more, interact with others including family members and even some good neighbors.
anonymous from anytown
Kids laughter outdoors. I couldnt go a day without hearing ,"Mom, can I go outside" from either myself or friends. Nowadays, I dont EVER hear any of my younger cousins ask to go and play outside and never hear any children playing in my neighborhood. If I do, it is rare. And Im only 24!
My parents got TV around 1965, when I just had left for university. I remember from the years of childhood and youth between 1950 and 1965 having been engaged or occupied with this:

Playing outdoors "cowboy and indians" a lot; sledge in winter for many hours without interruption (close to get frozen).
Jumping from one broken iceblock to the next at the coast in Holstein during low tide.
Frequent weekend tours with the parents on byke to nearby places; byke tours through Germany and Danmark during the vacations.
$ a.m. walks to the forest to watch deer and other animals. Walking my old grandmother around, up to 10 km on feet.
I had penpals in Malaysia, Birma, India, Trinidad y Tobago, Finland, USA, Japan. (Met some of them later.)
Founding and leading for some time the Protestant Church's youth group in our village.
Long frequent evening sessions with our pastor discussing "God and the World".
Founding and leading a political party's youth group in our village. Participating in election campaigns.
Being an active member in the Young European Federalists.
Working actively at the pupils' newsmagazine at our school.
Being a member of a mixed group of young pupils, farmers' kids, apprentices, workers, police academy students and more, who met quite often, did a lot of nonsense and sometimes got quite drunk ...
And over all other activities: reading hundreds of books, starting at 7 years with cookbooks and the whole Bible (did not make it, just about 400 pp.) Listening to the radio (AFN Germany, Radio Luxemburg, London).
Becoming a war resister and pacifist. Going sometimes to the cinema (not often), and go to every circus, which appeared in our region. Sometimes went a 100 km to Hamburg to the theater (with school). Started to see a little bit more TV from 1981 on. Most TV programme today is so unacceptable, dull, brutal and stupid, one cannot stand it; but today's kids can, obviously ...
Gerd, a German living in TV spoilt Nicaragua ...
Part 3

Still more activities we had as youths:

Stamp collecting, coin collecting, baseball cards.


Hide and seek, Little League baseball

Concerts and plays, school orchestra

Hebrew school and Sunday school

Nature collections:

Butterflies, moths, caterpillars, turtles, snakes, rocks - just about anything


Weather observation, hurricane tracking, measuring rainfall and snowfall


Science: Erector set, electric set, chemistry set

In our generation we were in direct touch with the whole world, not through the TV or computer screen.
Joel from Connecticut (Part 3)
Part 2

Now I recall more activities we had without TV as youths:

Swimming at the local pool or at the beach

Reading books - we read all the Hardy Boys mysteries, which we borrowed from our town library

Playing cards and chess

School extramural activities - sports, chess club, plays and dances

To reiterate: Parents must take responsibility for providing wholesome, educational activities for their children. In many ways the Interent is even worse and more corrupting than TV, and even if you don't have a TV at home, your children can watch it through the Internet as my wife's children do. By all means, limit your children's exposure to both TV and the Internet!!
Joel from Connecticut (Part 2)
I grew up in a small town in Connecticut, U.S. in the 1950's and 1960's. We didn't have TV until 1961. Before that most of our leisure time was spent outside, playing baseball in summer and sledding in winter, and hiking all year round. In the early 1960's we went to summer camp where there was no TV either. The TV that we had back then was rather tame and innocent and included sports (baseball and football), childrens' programs, and comedies such as I Love Lucy and Get Smart, although watching reruns of the Three Stooges ruined our table manners…

In school there was no television, except on special occasions; for example, live coverage of the launching of one of the U.S. space missions around 1962.

Our parents occasionally took us to the cinema and this was a family event. I still remember "The Ten Commandments" around 1960 as the first movie I saw. "Babes In Toyland" followed not long afterwards.

In October 1973, I first came to Israel as a volunteer on an orthodox religious kibbutz in the wake of the Yom Kippur War and spent a year. The kibbutz had a television in the social hall, but I never watched it. Instead I found satisfaction picking oranges all day and learning Torah in the synagogue in the evening. Here too we were taken once together into Tel Aviv to the cinema, as a treat, but I was not impressed.

Both my wife and I need the Internet for our work and we have it in our home. Unfortunately this is the greatest single issued that divides us. Her children from a previous marriage watch Israel television programs with no supervision until the small hours of the night and morning, and just today I saw a news item reporting that Israeli educators have severe criticism for one of the programs I believe they are watching. I am firmly against any use of the Internet by youth. Instead, parents should select materials that have only wholesome educational content and present it to their children as a prize for good behaviour.
Joel from Connecticut, U.S.
In the 1990s, TV and the Internet became extremely prevalent. One would say that I am part of the so called iPod generation, but I feel a disconnect, and I am glad. I owe it to my Mother, who said that I would thank her one day when she took away our TV. I don't even remember what age I was, but I am 21 now, so back then I was just a little boy. I remember clearly the first thing my brother and I did once the silence got too unbearable. We immediately went outside. There we found our toy trucks (Tonka trucks) which were in the sideyard and had accumilated tons of mud and dust. From then on, we couldn't even remember what it was like to have a TV because from then on we were never bored. We went outside and played games with other kids (when we could get them to come outside), but most importantly we read books. A ridiculous amount of books.
Luis from Rochester
I grew up in the 80s in a household without television. I remember kids at school being totally perplexed by this. They'd ask me - what do you DO all day?? I was rarely bored. I read books insatiably in the winter, played outside with the other kids on the block from the time I got home from school until dark, took dance classes, listened to music. I never felt deprived. As I've gotten older and watched more TV in my adult household, I have felt my attention span getting shorter, reading books isn't as effortless as it once felt. I hate the way my generation prioritizes TV and the ratio of isolated TV viewing to social interaction seems so high. It's also amazing how often TV shows are a central topic of conversation - I'd love to live in a time where this wasn't such a central part of every household. I remember my dad talking about how strange it was to him to see the flickering blue glow of the tv screen emanating from households on summer nights while the front porches sat dark and empty.
anonymous from anytown
gardening, growing vegetables.
Walks on the municipal park.
Sunday dinner sitting at the table with nice crockery and cutlery
Outdoor games
Rabbit keeping for fun and profit
Collecting the eggs from the chicken coop

my 4 yr old can draw elaborate pictures of things and characters and my 1 yr old son can pretend he's giving me a shot by sucking on the toy syringe then press on my leg. bet they couldn't be that creative if tv zones them out
anonymous from anytown
my 4 yr old daughter can draw elaborate pictures of forests and characters and my 1 yr old son can pretend he's giving me a shot by sucking on the toy syringe then press on my leg. bet they couldn't be that creative if tv zones them out
anonymous from anytown
I am 18 years old and our family doesn't own a TV. We emigrated from Ukraine to the U.S. in 1996, so we didn't even bother buying a TV that we wouldn't understand. We kept busy by having a lot of different activities in our church, a lot of part outings and stuff like that. At home, we would play with all the other kids (also mostly immigrants in our community). we would play hide and seek, Tag, Cops, had who could jump farther from a swing contests, foot and bike races, imagination games, tents out of blankets in the bushes. Also, my mom had everyone one of us 5 kids rotate chores every 3 days, so that kept it from boredom. My little sister developed a talent for drawing because she would doodle when she was bored, we would record ourselves singing hymns, or made up songs, make up stories..............lots of fun things that kids can do today. My father has 10 brothers and sisters, and none of them have TV as part of their lives. When we get together for reunions, the kids are not zombies but are very active and get along wonderfully because they are all in big families.
anonymous from anytown
I wanted to do this! I see you already are. I'm born post TV, so don't know, but asked the lady next door recently: They used to hang out the front of the house a lot more, and walk around the neighborhood with kids. They used to know EVERYONE in a 200m radius and more.
44yo from Sydney
Physical Exercise with family-frisbee, volleyball, ping pong with family and friends together, tiddly winks on the kitchen table after Sunday dinner (kids ipods, MP3, cell phones, playstations..all turned off or left in another room).
Swimming, running and walking everyday. Time to connect together without phones or interruptions on purpose.
anonymous from DTW via PHX
Girls learning to embroider quietly no TV, no radio, just quiet, peace.
Book reading, curled up in a chair, window seat (no cell phone around, no Ipod, no TV, no Radio..just quiet time).
spending time together as a family and sit down dinner each night (1 hour or more together) TV, no Radio on.
instead family conversation-connection time.
Originally from Michigan now in West.
In reading a biography of Miguel Agustin Pro, it was said that people loved to visit the Pro household because little Miguel would write and recite poems in honor of their visits. I mentioned this to a friend, who said, "Remember they didn't have television." So, I guess it's television or poetry.
J from Illinois
I grew up with a television set, in my room - nontheless. But, it hardly ruled my life. We spent most days outdoors until the street lights came on. We rode bikes all over town, played baseball in empty lots, built forts in hidden wooden areas, picked wild blackberries, did our "own stunts," played in the woods, climbed trees.. now, I'm an adult.. and there are 100s of kids living in our subdivision, but I never see any of them. It's rare. You'd think children were an endangered species.. well, "free range" children are an endangered species. My boys have a television in our living room, but it hardly rules their lives. We have a massive family garden that they both love to attend, they hunt lizards, play in tipis and forts, my little one seems to be a long distance runner.. They build with blocks and love to paint and craft. They watch intently as daddy fixes cars and bikes and lawnmowers, they love to wade right down the middle of a creek.. TV is only part of the problem, it's actually the "solution," most parents rely on to keep their kids calm, quiet, out of danger (ie nature), mess-free.. among other stuff.
anonymous from anytown
When I was young, my father would "wolf whistle" to call us home. It's an extremely ear piercing whistle that can be heard throughout the modern subdivision. It kept us able to be "free range," while still ensuring we didn't roam too far. I asked once, how he learned to do it.. he replied, "I didn't have a TV when I was young." Same goes for his awesome yo-yo prowess.. and his great mechanical skills for fixing anything with a motor!
C Cook from GA
recently moved to a different state and decided to not buy a TV for my young children's sake. i had few close calls to buying a used one because they were louder,more high strung, busier, and messier. then i realized they are finally waking up!
C from Texas
I grew up in the 60s. We had such cool programs like Lone Ranger, My 3 Sons, Daniel Boone, Flying nun, Get Smart, McHale’s Navy and so many others. Our TV was black and white and not to easy to see. I do not recall the timing of the programs but my viewing was certainly limited. Not so much for the feeling that too much TV was bad, but more for just getting me out of the house. At least I think. I don’t recall any major pangs of remorse for not being glued to the tube. I do know we all knew what was on and when it was on so we would gather around and watch, particularly Sundays Wonderful World of Disney. Base ball game use to be exciting to watch. I particularly recall one summer afternoon in Detroit, the heat was oppressive, only a couple of us kids were out on the street, probably playing marbles. The only sounds you could hear were the cicadas blending in with the sounds of table fans and the baseball game emanating from a dozen houses. While I was probably bored out of my head, just waiting for the ice cream truck, that is a very strong memory. Otherwise we played with toy soldiers, fished, built forts, camped out, raided the golf course for golf balls, and my particular favorite, root around in the swamp for cool bugs. Those were neat days now that I think back. But I recall the age old “What Am I Going To Do?” popping out once in awhile. “Why don’t you watch TV” was NOT my moms answer.
The world had its problems, and yes, I was just a child so my view then was pretty carefree, but I don’t recall having the world’s issues in our face 24 hours a day. Nor did we have the sex and violence we have today. Leave it to Beaver actually had serious “story morals” that probably taught us some manners. Also the good guy always prevailed. I would like to blame the TV for all our current woes, but I know it’s not that simple. But don’t get me started on that.
Today I could be a couch potato if not for a demanding job. It’s pathetic.
K from Michigan
Tap-door-run, Gang-huts, secret-bases, Marbles, Conkers, Trump-cards, Playing soldiers, Tig, Hide and Seek, guiders (go-karts), Snail Races, Puddle-jumping, Mud-balls, snow-balls, bike-rides, roller-skating, getting chased off building sites by the watchman. Think we used to get in a lot more trouble than kids do now: but it seemed to be tolerated a lot more than it is now. Kids seem to be branded delinquent for simply hanging about nowadays.
Craig from Edinburgh
Playing marbles
Playing conkers
Dressing up in net curtains and mum's high heeled shoes
Playing at being teacher
Spending hours riding my scooter
French skipping (with elastic tape)
Singing and talking to Grundig tape-recorder
Reading comics like June and Schoolfriend, Bunty, The Topper, Jackie, and many many more.
Hours and hours of fun playing with local friends and learning to share toys.
Making pretend tents out of blankets.
Paddling in plastic blow-up paddling pool.
Going to local jumble sale and getting lots of very cheap (but exciting to a young child) goodies for a penny.
Riding a bike
Playing safely in the woods, and swinging on rope swings.
Many let's pretend games.
Hours at the window enjoying the view of the hills and valley, which looked totally different at night with all the street lights on.
Colouring and sketching.
anonymous from anytown
Playing hide-and-seek (I used to love that game), reading, walking, having long talks with friends, knitting, singing, dancing, listening to music on the radio, going to the theatre. There are so many things people can still do, but they are letting themselves brain-washed by TV programmes.
anonymous from anytown
Staring out of the window. Getting sidetracked in meditative tasks...yesterday I spent an hour in my garden just enjoying pottering around. Using our hands to do things. Feeling like your life, not the lives of others, are important.
anonymous from anytown
In response to Ged in particular as I, too, hail from Wigan. Though I'm an 80's child not a 70's child.

Although I grew up very much surrounded by TV and all it has to 'offer' a large portion of my free time was spent doing things besides watching TV (which, if I remember right, was more of a late evening thing anyway).

Some activities I used to partake in (especially during the summer holidays) include *TAKES A DEEP BREATH* :

Bike rides
climbing trees
Running around in heavily wooded areas (or anywhere outside really)
Building "dens"
Playing sports
Calling for friends
Playing "pretend"
Playing cards
Having sleep overs
Robbing stuff from local building sites
Staying out until dark

I'm sure there's more. But as the years progressed I became more and more engrossed in TV and slowly sank into oblivion every day and night. Now I am older (and, dare I say, wiser) I have come to see that TV has nothing to offer me. Okay I still use the Internet a lot and I play computer games but with my use of TV diminishing evermore I have now found time to do the following:

Read (I never read when I was a child so I'm making up for lost time now)
Study (I'm in university)
Go to the gym
Band practice every week
Play guitar
Go to the cinema with my girlfriend
Go to the pub with friends
Grab some beers and a rugby/football/frisbee and head to the park (warm climate only)

And oodles more.

Life is so much fun when you're not watching others have it all
Andrew "Heid" Heaton from Wolverhampton (formerly Wigan), UK
I was born in 1970, we had a tv and I watched it all the time when I was small, naturally. The teachers at my school became so concerned about my reading ability ( I just couldnt get on with it at all) that they spoke to my Mother who became alarmed. She threw out the tv and we read in front of the fireplace every evening. In just a couple of weeks I was top of the class for reading and I've adored it ever since. My mind came alive and I have a wonderfull imagination. I cant wait to show my son the joys of reading and living his life, not watching other people living on a box instead.
Josephine, Somerset, England.
I was born in 1971, but my parents, now in their 70s, were born in the late 30s. My generation grew up with hoards of ridiculous and addictive, television. Whenever I talk to anyone from my generation about 80s TV, they can spout out 100s of innuendos and reference points that I remember.

On the other hand, my parents grew up as teenagers in post WWII Philippines. Their experience with television was minimal, if any. My parents recall high school socials and get-togethers. Perhaps, this is why they raised my family to take on extra-televisual activities like the violin or singing or even running amuck outdoors till all hours of the night.

They speak of a time more independent on the family-base while hey talk of forming their own ideas based on what they read and experienced. The difference today is that we're spoon fed thousands of biased and inaccurate news stories and guided by so many popular culture viruses via the television. My family has thrown out our television. We now choose to filter the news through the right sources. This way we can form our own opinions and decisions on what it is that is effecting our place in the world.
Eleazar Cruz (Philadelphia, PA, USA)
TV has killed common conversation. Fillers like "umm," "ahh," and "you know" permeate conversations. It is as though the ability to verbalize intentions is being taken by the boob tube.

I grew up in a TV house and hated it! I'd rather play sports with friends or read books. I would run to my bedroom scared because my parents would look like zombies in front of the TV.

We are missing story telling abilites. Common manners. That sense of community many poster s referenced in the BTVE (before TV era). Literacy, bah! I asked someone if they knew of Cicero and the guy asked me if
it that a form of cancer. Folks think that the only Homer is that Simpsons character.

As a parent now, I am raising my daughter TV free. My wife and I read to her, sing her songs, and play with her. Everyone remarks how smart and nice she is for a 1 year old. We babysit our child the old fashioned way: by being engaging parents and not letting the cursed TV brainwash our child.

Thank you for this site. I no longer feel like a loner. It brings peace knowing there are like minded folks all over the globe! Kill your TV!
Cliff (Sartoga County, NY, USA)
I was born in 1975 but my mom (born in 1945) absolutely endorses a free of tv childhood, I remember lots of reading and drawing, even singing and recording my voice in an old cassette recorder, other than seldom old movies from cultural channels, TV was not a member of the family; I remember feeling really curious visiting a friend's house and seeing her sister "do homework" while watching the tv, they had a satellite antenna and I was wowed that they had a disney channel, so once a week I would visit and watch that, the funny thing is that my friend and her siblings were already bored with the satellite dish channels and would spend their afternoons outside playing, how different from today when kids are glued to media, and playing outside is considered fiancee has lived 3 yrs on his own without a TV and agrees in not having one once we marry, I had been thinking on getting one for playing dvd's for our future children, but reading your comments I am certain it is possible and more educational to raise a kid without TV....
Alison Baramovitch from NY
Born in 1943. Before TV, I would get up very early of a summmer's morning and ride all over town before dawn. In those hours Glen Ellyn was a private preserve for me. I would come home have breakfast, take a nap and then read books all afternoon, and then play outside in the evening. Or I would play baseball with my friends, or walk down to the forest preserve with my siblings.

Televsion came into our lives in the mid-fifties. I feel like I sat down in front of the TV in 1953 and didn't get up till 1973.

I remember the year that it broke and Mom and Dad didn't have the money to fix it. What a wonderful year! We got to know one another again, played boardgames together, talked together for a long time after supper, became friends. It was glorious.

When it was fixed finally, after about a year, and brought back into the house, I could see what was happening to us and asked both Mom and Dad if we could get rid of it. No, we couldn't. What a disaster for us as a family. So many things went wrong for us after that.

So, when my son was about 3, we threw out the TV. This opened up aeons of time for me and I began to read a lot again. When the kids were older we would read together as a family in the evening, usually half an hour of a good rousing adventure story, then a life of a saint for half an hour, then the Baltimore Catechism for fifteen minutes. We all enjoyed it very much. We had a blast. The kids developed a love of learning and a desire for God.

They were left to their own devices for their play time, and they rose to the occasion by playing outside, riding their bikes, or reading, drawing etc. My daughter developed her artistic talents and my son taught himself guitar.

Throwing the TV out was the best *financial* decision I ever made. In their early years, their teachers commented about their extraordinary attention spans.As they grew older our home provided a quiet atmosphere for study-and study they did. My daughter was valedictorian of her class. Both my children got substantial merit scholarships to the small Catholic university that gave them an excellent education scholarships. I had been worried as a young father working as a messenger. How was I going to provide a college education for my children. By throwing out the TV, that's how, although it wasn't obvious at the time.

When Pope John Paul II died, we got a TV to watch the events. With my daughter being 26, I figured it was pretty safe :) However, the delightful thing is that it is never on. We do use it to watch dvds on weekends, but weeks and months will go by without our bringing any programming into the house- and even then it is usually an hour or two of The Eternal Word network.

An update on my children. My daughter (beautiful, personable, accomplished) entered a cloistered, Carmelite convent last August after teaching for five years. My son is in his third year of law school at a national university.

All the good things that have happened with us never would have happened if we had kept the TV.

Lee from Lisle, IL
I am raising my daughter, 19 months, without TV. We do watch the news, etc. (minimal), but she does not watch TV. My friends think I am crazy. What does she do? Builds towers with blocks, empties the cabinets, chases the dogs, has collections of objects she takes in and out of containers, looks at picture books alone and pretends to read, "helps" in the kitchen, plays in the dirt, scribbles with crayons (and breaks them), plays with Legos, feeds her baby doll...all without the help of Elmo, Dora, etc (a well-meaning lady in the store gave her two Dora Stickers-she was amazed that Ella had no idea who Dora was--and she played "peep-eye" with them). I also struggle to find toys without cartoon characters endorsing them.
Mary Ann Adams, Ridgeway, SC
I am a little young for this (39), but I qualify. I grew up in a little mountain town (Mariposa, CA, USA) and we did not have any running water or electricity until I was about 10 years old (so no TV). I had a blast during those years. I had 10 acres of land to explore and play on. We had a creek to fish and swim in. When the sun went down, I spent time playing games with my parents and brother, reading (I was an Avid reader), and just relaxed. Of course, I had friends who had electricity and TV. I did watch it when I visited them. I would sit in front of that thing and just stare at it, totally losing the rest of the world. Luckily, we lived so far out in the country that I couldn't easily get to my friends house, so I didn't watch it that often. I think my younger brother might disagree with the use of the word "Luckily". Since we didn't have TV, we had much more time to play together. And I was apt to be a little mean to my little brother at times. So, that is how I got into trouble most of the time.
Jason Thompson now residing in Modesto, CA, USA. (Where I own 3 TVs, one of them with a 55 inch screen)
I am a television journalist at one of the main networks. Much news video is so selective and engineered that you would get a more accurate picture from reading a well-written newspaper or wire report. This is not intentional bias but is a fact of working with a medium that is difficult to acquire (it takes time, effort and luck to shoot news stories). We threw a television out of our home in 1995 and have not regretted it. Sorry but I won't be leaving an email address.
anonymous from anytown
We use to play a game called "Poker Place" that we made up.
On most Sunday's in summer, there was very little on TV, and we would spend hours on the local park. I have photographs from my childhood - at least 50 children playing in the paddling pool, families from the local houses - some only 100 feet away - with picnics, squash and flasks of tea sitting on the grass, enjoying themselves and socialising with neighbours and strangers.
Or we would do the front garden - three hours of grass cutting, weeding,hedge clipping etc, followed by tea and cake on the front door step.
Harry, Ipswich originally, now Cumbria, UK
I'm not that old (50) so I was brought up on mush in B/W to begin with. But in the late 1990s I shared my life with a woman with two kids, 8 and 11, boy and girl. We noticed they were getting brainwashed by Eastenders in particular, even trying to replicate situations at home to mirror what they were seeing.

We had a clean up, put TV outside overnight, and told them it may blow up if we plugged it in. They knew we couldn't afford a new one. £ days of whining, but then they turned into KIDS again! Making up stories, asking us to read to them, asking to go for walks!!! Playing KID games, dancing, drawing etc!

I would reccomend it to anyone. Well worth a minor whinge, and these kids were good at it!

Power to your project. I think the quality of Brits took a nose dive with the arrival of the 50s, US influence, and a steep dive when that Thatcher woman was around.

You're right, we do need all the ancient wisdom the older generations can supply.

You'll be hearing from me again.
John from Dumfries
I have three children - aged 21,18 and 15. We do not have a television. Schools comment that my children are sparky, quick and able to converse unusually well.
I work as a classroom assistant with young children and that is what I notice is missing: quick- thinking and spark. Even the 'bright' kids are quite 'dull'. The occasional child from a household without television stands out as mature,interesting and,usually, widely read.

My children say they will not have television when they have children; my eldest daughter pursuaded her uni housemates not to have a set,saving the licence fee and a good deal of time-wasting!
I would always recommend not having television because children are so impressionable - the way people behave in a lot of programs is appalling. That is aside from the proven physical 'side effects'.
Amanda C-H. Surrey.
I love that last entry, but I can't leave it unanswered. For an example of mass media fighting small mindedness and bigotry, I invite readers to Google or Wikipedia the following:

Radio Télévision Libre des Mille Collines (RTLM)
David Burke
Director of Filth,
White Dot,
Upper Snivelling,
East Sussex
We are missing the connectivity of neighborhood life, the idea that any neighbor is a new friend that you haven't met yet. As citizens we have become addicted to our television programs to inform us of who fits in or out of the social norms they create. It's all pretty shallow really. We need to revert back to a way of life where community is king and our respecive environments dictate what we like and dislike. I look back and long for a way of life where good, old fashioned racism, sexism, and city block isolationism stories could be shared between neighborhood members, and members only. By the way, did you hear that hear that filthy British family from around the block started an anti-television website? Why don't they stick with their own kind?
From the ignorant media giant of a country, (I'll give you one guess.)
I am a member of the TV generation, as I am only 20 years old,but my family has never had a TV. I do not see the need for one nor do I like what I see happening to this generation as a result of the TV.

Even though I am from the TV generation because we did not have a TV nor did most of my friends, my brother and I, along with our friends, learned to entertain ourselves. We made up games and played old favorites. The following is a list of my memories:

Playing the Underground Railroad by walking up and down our street, in the small town I grew up in, wrapped in blankets w/ bags of our "possessions";

Playing hide-n-go seek inside, outside, and wherever else we could find, in the daytime and at night;

Playing house on our back patio and in our shed (and making the boys play w/ us - to do this we had to convince them we needed protecting from some sort of "bad" thing);

Playing "Wedding" and using our snowball bush to create flowers and bouquets;

Swinging on our tire swing;

Playing at the park;

Riding our bikes;

Taking walks;


Walking to the dime store to buy candy;

Cleaning our rooms, doing the dishes, helping make supper, and many other chores;

Reading books;

Laying on the floor listening to mom read the next book in the series of books she was reading us... throughout my childhood my mother read us the entires "Little House on the Praire" series and the "Little Indian" series, along with many other books;

Laying down for our 1 hour required quiet time and enjoying the quiet time to think and plan;

Playing cowboys and indians;

Playing cops and robbers;

Playing government agents v. bad guys;

Playing with plastic army men;

Playing with barbie dolls and babies;

Having tea parties w/ my dollies and friends;

Going to birthday partys, bonfires, fondue parties, etc.

Practicing the piano;

Going to church, bible school, revivals, camp meetings, etc.;

Playing "Red Light, Green Light";

Playing "Red Rover, Red Rover";

Playing "Old Maid", "Jacks", etc.;

Playing those handclapping games, of which I can no longer remember the ryhmes to unless I sit down and really think hard;

Helping mom bake and cook for Christmas and Thanksgiving dinners;

Going to story time at the local library;

Walking to the ice creme shop for ice creme;

Going to pre-school;

Jump-roping to numerous rhymes;

Playing football, t-ball, softball, volleyball, basketball, just for fun (nothing "organized");

Going to the town park to watch the guys play one of the above-names sports, just for fun (nothing "organized");

Renting the school gym so everyone could play one of the above-named sports, just for fun;

Playing outside in the rain;

Dancing in the rain;

Singing at the top of our lungs, silly songs and any other song we could think of;

Hanging upside down on the Moon Bars in the playground at school;

Playing kickball, dodge ball, 'Round the world kickball, etc.;

Telling secrets to my friends, writing notes to each other, sending each other cards, making gifts for each other just because;

Slumber parties when no one ever went to sleep and because we were tired we got in a fight and then calling each other when we got home to apologize and running outside to be together again that same day;

Sitting on the couch watching mom clean because I'd gotten in trouble and wasn't allowed to play outside;

Playing Aggrevation, Yahtzee, War, Castle Risk, etc. with my family on cold winter nights in front of the fireplace;

Having family parties and watching old family slide shows on, yes the old slides you had to feed through the projector, and laughing at the old silent videos that were mixed in along with the old, old pictures;

Family reunions were everyone sat around, in no big hurry to go anywhere, and caught up on each others lives;

Playing "Telephone;

Sitting on the front porch or on the couch in front of our big window in the formal living room and watching storms rage outside;

Getting woke up in the middle of the night to go hide in the basement when the tornados came through and telling stories and singing songs to keep us from getting scared silly;

Laying in bed at night listening to dad tell us stories from when he was young, until we fell asleep;

Going and singing in the nursing homes;

Visiting the sick and bedridden from church and listening to them tell their memories;
Lacey from Ohio, USA
we would play "gas station" and drive our bikes in to get gas-we'd pay with leaves. i grew up in the 70's before cable.
anonymous from anytown
read, sew, clean the floors, dance, make-out, hike, sit onth eporch, go for walks, bike rides, cook or bake from scratch, paint, make a dress, play games, play cards, talk about real life observations, thought, feelings, happenings ( not tv shows you watched the night before)
anonymous from anytown
My name is Ian, and if you have read the opening chapter of Pamela Stephenson's book on her husband Billy Connelly, you will find amazing similarities in my own description of life as a boy in Glasgow at the age of 6 - 10 years old. It was a joyous freedom on the streets, with a gang of your peers that you'd grown up with. We all played with one another, regardless of age, colour or religion. That was to come much later in life!
There was the greedom to play all manner of made up games inlcuding the time honoured 'Cowboys and Indians'. Most of us had bicycles and we were able to take day-long rides into the unknown and find soemthing to create a game with on arrival. Although we did not know it, we were learning how to face the rigours of life, never thinking we had strayed many miles from our homes. Sometimes we would swim in streams and then ride home in wet clothes. Nobody seemed to mind.
We had few toys, but made the best of sticks, which could figure as all type sof weapons, but were never used as such. Merely exaggerated bravado! Football was the prime love and neighbours tolerated the rough and tumble in their home streets, with hardly every a cross world.
We were all adept at utilising the oddly shaped buildings around our homes and creating an assault course by jumping from one shed to a lamp post and back onto a midden. Life was free, with very few rules except made by ourselves and oddly, we never seemed to hurt ourselves. We grew in confidence.
I really think taht if we'd had television in those days of the 40s/50s we would have missed out on the pleasure of adventure and inventiveness and I mourn the passing of the freedom that today's children haven't got.
Ian Chapman (using friend's email)
I consider myself at the age of 75 to ahve lived in two different worlds, whilst always remaining in England. This is because I was loveingly brought up, as an only child in the 30s/40s to become a reasonably accomplished woman, with enough personal responsibility not to need the engulfing power of television in my life. Here I am talking about mass entertainment, as I do watch two news bulletins a day and programmes like 'Panorama@ and 'Horizon'.
My younger life was spent in a msall town in Derbyshire and as my parents were both headteachers I was not sent to schooll until I was 7. Of course I could read and write long before I attended school so I was not in any way backward. When I attended my father's schol, up to the age of 11, I was daily made a scapegoat for any classroom demeanours and in hindsight I can see this has made me very able to face the knocks in life and get on with the consequences.
My pastimes when at home were knitting, embroidery (cross stitch), reading, playing theatrical scenes with my dolls, which I had created, tennis and cricket. My father taught me these two latter pursuits, in fact when I was a teenage, he taught me how to score at cricket and this ability has given me a lot of pleasure in my adult years, with many different clubs. Another game whichw as taught me to a very high level was cribbage. Ostensibly this was to smarten up my mental arithmetic, which I am sure it still does, as my husband and I play to this day at cut throat level! And of course I played card games with my dolls and imaginary friends and never cheated on them or myself. (More character building!).
On my 10th birthday, I was given a wind up gramophien and from somewhere unknown it seems now, I had about 6 classical vinyl discs, which must have driven my parents balmy. Neither of them was all that keen on classical music, but I was, and still am.
Together with what seemed hours of homework once I was at grammar school I hardly had time to pursue my own readinga nd certainly would not have had time to watch television. I seem to remember the homework occupied 3 hours per night, but it all paid off to give mea very solid background for working, and very much so, to help to raise 5 children to a reasonable degree of knowledge. I am sure such informative programmes are still to be found on television, but as the education is not up to the standard of yesteryear, perhaps they are not so readily absorbed or even watched.
Summing up, I have to concede, with no difficulty at all, that I am happier without the television being on in my house, but I acknowledge that I had a superb upbringing that taught me how to use my mind and I find it is never empty. From hwat I read in newspapers and magazines, the present generation are having their minds stuffed with vacuous images and will be middle aged before they could hold a serious conversation. With lower educational standards and the artificiality of reality of TV, I am concerned as to the mind set of a large part of this community, because I think they ahve not been taught from childhood how to explore the world around them and become involved.
Jilly Weston (using my son's email)
Lalvadore Lali Lama's comment about chalking on the sidewalk struck a chord with me. My children (now teenagers) were encouraged to chalk on the patio, and many of their friends seemed to think it was an attractively naughty thing to do as thier parents forbade them from chalking on their tidy, neat patios. Anyone would have thought they had never realised that the rain washes it all off pretty quickly, even in a UK summer! (Maybe it's because rain isn't advertised as a cleaner on TV!)
Jackie from UK
I am a member of the TV generation. I haven't had a TV in my home since 2001, but I'm still feeling the effects of hours upon hours of the stuff. I'm a poor speller and I'm great with punch lines but I'm not a very good story teller. I only know a few games and I say "like" a lot. I'm a bad listener, and I remember the names of TV characters but not my friends' birthdays. I'm busy remedying all of these things...wish me luck!
Girl Next Door
When we were kids we spent a lot of our time in our boy's bedroom, all 4 of us, as we played records, listened to distant Shortwave pop music radio, read comic books and made things with wood & glue, and later with plastic model kits. During all this we talked a lot, got to know each other's personalities and learned to allow for the space we all needed to ourselves. We still recognise this in each other today, and it is a valuable family gift, one we have all worked for. TV came along as we grew into adults and we could quickly see the changes it made. Longer hours of sitting there saying little, and passively staring at a screen. The other way was better. We knew each other a lot more.
Now when we meet and share time together we tun TV's off, and live again free of the 'crystal bucket'.
Robbie from Ireland
What we are missing today is our loved ones especially who are younger than us. Not that they are not alive, but the fact that they are around us and still we feel they are miles away, makes matter worse.The blame is on television. People generally watch television to forget their real world , their pains etc (and they say they are just relaxing).But forgetting problems does not end problem unless we face them one true time. So what we are missing today is a good family laugh at the dinner table or , feeling of bondness ,patience ,and most importantly creating our fun and entertainment.Our parents regretted our being a television freak , and we for our younger brothers and sisters. So if there's anyone who needs our help or our company, just do not hesitate to switch off. regards
anonymous from anytown
Well, one thing i do for fun, now that i'm in college and have no TV in my room, is guerilla art.
Examples of guerrilla art might be: using a DRY ERASE marker to write on glass (no sharpies), posting up pictures or writings on bulletin boards, chalking on the sidewalk.
Lalvador Lali Lama from somewhere where there's a lot of corn
Growing up in the 60's in New zealand. Lots of reading, games with the neighbourhood kids, cricket, soccer, cowboys and indians, hide and seek. 6 weeks at our holiday house on the beach, no tv there, dawn to dusk on the beach, building fortresses, swimming, sledding down the grass slopes, horse riding, fire lighting, fishing and cooking our catches, expeditions to the next bays, picnics in the hills, helping out on the local farm - paradise for kids.
Smash the box!
Don from NZ
people are missing just sitting in the same room reading different books on summer evenings instead of watching TV "together". My husband and I like to go for walks in our neighbourhood and have other couples we go out with on Sundays after church. My husband spends time with our son daily building models with him instead of letting him watch TV.
Joy and George Kordonis from Sutton, Ontario
I'm only 16 years old but for most of my childhood I did not watch much TV. I grew up in the poorest county in the state of Wisconsin. My Mom had to work 3 jobs to support just me and her, and I remember not having the TV on much because it cost money to keep it on. But I did not even realize we had to use the TV sparingly because I was always finding something to do, and I didn't particularly enjoy watching TV anyway.

One of my fondest memories is the little plastic wading pool I had in the back yard, the kind you can buy for about $20, if that. I remember I used to have my slide so the end was in the pool.I would sit for hours at the bottom of the slide with a toy fishing pole with a magnet on the end and catch little plastic fish with metal noses.
Another great memory I have is racing my little Matchbox cars down the cellar door. I used to have literally dozens of little cars and trucks of all kinds and I would have tournaments and race two at a time. When it was too cold to go outside I would race them around the kitchen floor, or build a pretend little town on the fire place mantle using various objects.

There used to be a really cool dead tree in the woods by my house. It was Y shaped and a big dead branch lay across the top of the Y which made a little shelf of sorts. I pretended it was a pirate ship and I used to draw treasure maps on inside out Dixie cups and nail them to the "shelf".

There was a large rectangular dirt patch near the patio in the back yard. I would bring my Tonka trucks and a bucket of water out there and spend all day making mud villages. When I was bored of that, I would drop handfuls of sand down a pipe that lead to the septic system because it made a neat "shhhhhhhhhhhhh" noise like rain. Unfortunately my grandpa caught me doing it one day and yelled at me because that could damage it.

There were plenty of things to do inside, too. I remember filling up the kitchen sink and pretending it was a lake, and one of my action figures usually ended up drowning or being a victim of my hammer head shark puppet. I used to adore my school secretary, and I would sit at my dad's desk and pretend to be a secretary, writing things down on the back of envelopes like she did. When I wanted to relax, I would just sit by the window stool and stare at the fish tank for hours. We had so many fish. My favorite was our black Angel fish, which I always thought was the white angel fish's husband. We also had a little grey sea snake that I loved to watch. One day it got out and months later my mother found it behind the couch. Ugh.

I did watch TV almost every morning, but only for about half an hour. I would wake up every day and immediately run to the living room and sit on my dad's feet and watch Cartoon Network.

My "dark age" was when we moved to Illinois in the suburbs. I was so used to country life, and all of the sudden my yard was about 100 times smaller. That's when I really started watching TV. All day. There was no kids to play with, and no wilderness to explore. I was a slave to the TV, from morning til night. But then, just a few months ago, I discovered this website and others and I made a vow to never watch TV again. Let me tell you, If you belong to your TV, you are wasting your life. I I look back and think, "why did I waste my time like that...I could have been living my life!"

I don't miss TV. My life is infinitely better without it. I miss those days in the farmlands of Wisconsin. Summer,After a long day of toy-car cellar door drag racing, sitting with a cold glass of home made lemonade, staring up at the orange sunset sky and the sweet smell of fresh cut grass...I'll take it over TV ANY day! Thank you, White Dot. Thank you for freeing my from that monsterous black box that controlled my life.

If my family would only let me, I would chuck the TV straigt out the window. KILL YOUR TELEVISION!!!
Brenden from Elmwood Park, IL (USA)
I'm not particularly old, born in 1978, but we didn't have a TV until I was about 8. Even after that our TV viewing was very restricted for many years as we had no mains power, and the TV and radio ran off car batteries. I spent a lot of time playing by myself as I grew up, or with my older and younger brother, as we lived in the 'bush' some distance from neighbours. I did lots of exploring in this environment, observing the creatures and plants around me, playing on the beach, collecting stones, shells, etc. I drew a lot, made things from paper, plasticene, sewed, read A LOT. One thing I remember my mother saying to me often was "Don't read in the dark, you'll hurt your eyes!" as I would get so engaged in the story that I didn't stop reading as the light faded. My brothers and I made huts - indoors and out. We climbed trees, swam in the summer when the tide was in, sailed boats, made model boats and planes. There was a lot of making in our house, from whatever materials we could get our hands on, much of it recycled - and our parents treasured the things we made. We learnt early to use scissors and glue and knives, and light the fire in the wood range. I remember baking biscuits - which got "well-browned" by the unreliable old oven. But as our house was small and we didn't have electric lights much of the 'playing' was done outside during daylight hours. I spent hours creating imginary miniature worlds - 'fairy' houses from bark, petals, leaves, or building little dams in the creek after rain. Most of my 'playing' was done through imagining and creating, rather than with bought toys - of which we had few, and which I didn't miss until I began comparing what I had with kids at school, or began watching more TV and seeing ads and how other people lived. We did have lots of great books, and listened to National Radio, especially at night. My father often read to us in the evenings, chapters from long stories that the whole family enjoyed. At 5 or 6 I was listening to and loving 'The Hobbit', 'Lord of the Rings' and the 'Swallows and Amazons' series. I also remember listening a lot to the conversations of the adults around me, as any visitors were interesting, and many of my parents' friends were fascinating - creative, intelligent people, some of whom travelled a lot. We also had chores from an early age. I remember my first chore (at about 5 or 6?) was to feed the cat each night, and as I got older - and my arms bigger! - carrying arm-loads of wood for the fire, or a small box of groceries, or half buckets of water. I don't remember being bored...
Ariane from Northland, N.Z.
I was a child in the 60's and brought up without a t.v and then lived abroad in the 70's on a remote island without t.v. As children we were always creating things. We had various craft books and made papier mache heads from balloons, played with our pets, thought up imaginative games, made tree houses (badly) and played in the street. I also loved books and spent hours reading both childrens and adults books from a very young age in order to be transported into a world of pirates and other adventuresThere were never enough hours in the day for us. When I got fed up with reading or crafts I'd go out on my bike and ride all over the countryside and often return with scabby knees, I was a terrible tomboy. My cousins and I would spend hours on the beach at low tide looking for shells, interesting stones and always had a collection of some sort going on - rocks, shells, stamps, stickers. Above all it was the best of fun and as me and husband don't have a television now we are still doing the same things only perhaps in a slightly more adult way, sometimes! :-)
Louisa, East Sussex
Before we had a TV, we kids had lots to do:
We made crank phone-calls (they were only a nickel): “Do you have a store on 79th Street? You’d better move it; there’s a streetcar coming !”
--We read forbidden comics; we flattened pennies on streetcar-rails.
--Outdoor games included jump-rope & roly-poly, hopscotch, and categories (“A, My name is Alice and I come from Alabama, with a load of apples.”)
--We walked along curbs and down alleys, looking for change someone might have dropped.
--We climbed fences and trees.
--In winter we sledded down a hill left at an unfinished construction site, or skated and made snow-forts.
--In summer we swam in lake or pool, made lemonade, brought picnics to the park, ran under sprinklers, and roller-skated.
--In all seasons, we walked to the library for a two-week book supply and rode the sole (one- story) elevator in a neighborhood office-building on the way home.
--Other outdoor games: Red Rover, Kick the Can, Hide-and-seek,races,tag, and scavenger hunts.
--In the house we did crafts, drew pictures, cut out and designed paper-dolls, listened to the radio, and did homework. We had to practice piano, babysit, and run errands for our mothers and help with housework.

--In a Chicago neighborhood, I had the chance, on my own, to explore a grisly crime-scene. That was a unique opportunity for a six-year-old girl.
Mary from Southside Chicago
The boys in our neighborhood gathered regularly and always seemed to form teams to play with against ourselves. We wresteld. We dug trenches in an empty field and were Japs against Yanks or Krauts against Yanks, when were played war. We played tiddley winks and marbles. We cooled off with KoolAid pops made in an ice tray. We mowed our own diamond to play ball, we had a treehouse and a rope elevator to get up to it. We seemed to end the day playing rollu-up in the street until various mothers whiostled us in for supper. We played touch football as well. If we had had a TV I don't know when we would have had time to watch it.
Geezer from Winchester Mass
my family didnt have a tv until i was 12. i think this is a good thing considering i was left use use my already active imagination to play and enjoy my childhood actively rather than on a sofa. my parents made sure we got outside, enjoying the fresh air, excercise, and the company of others. i learnt to communicate with the people around me more, and focused on the things i considered to be 'real'. my definition of something 'real' is something we experience ourselves. i think that tv is used as a tool for people to distract themselves from themselves, as many are somewhat helpless when it comes to analysing the deeper issues in life. taking it into our own hands to do some good in the world, rather than watching others do other things...
in my opinion, i think that today we are missing the much needed communication between families, as well as a change in attitude towards raising children. things such as leading an active lifestyle, family outings, promoting (optional: no kid likes to be forced to do something they see as pointless)hobbies and interests in children, as well as respect for other human beings,so that we all live in a world where attention is paid to the more important things in life, such as communicating honestly with the people around you. akthough tv can be used as a tool for some knowledge, this would only suit two of the other learning types: auditory and visual, therefore, leaving a hole which cannot be filled, for the kinesthetic learners. i thnk this world would be a much better place if we all saw it, outside of the box.
anonymous from anytown
We were busy busy busy growing up without TV in the 50s. I remember sewing outfits for my dolls on the Singer sewing machine, making up cookie recipes full of marshmallows and pieces of candy bars, running across the backyards until dusk forced us inside, pretending the swing set was a pirate ship, a space ship, a robbers hideout, an Indian village. I remember dancing around the living room to classical music, dressed up in old evening dresses my mom bought me at the second hand shop, dresses with tulle skirts and sparkling beads. I remember Nancy Drew and Edward Eager, making airplane cockpit controls out of cardboard boxes, playing kickball, sledding and building snowforts. So many things to do! We didn't watch other people living. We lived.
Lilly from Ithaca
Children are missing the ability to use their imaginations. A book was my gateway to some other life, place and time. We used to run from the playground to the nearest friendly house and sit on the doorstep listening to Dick Barton, Special Agent, and worry that something dreadful would happen to him the next day. We spent long days in the park playing endless games of cricket or rounders with mixed teams. We rode our bikes into the countryside with a sandwich and a bottle of water and learned to identify flowers and birds. We also looked for trees where we could make a rope swing, and if it was over a stream or a pond so much the better. Kids love to be scared.

We ate our meals sitting around a table with our family and it was here that we learned some of our social skills, interacting easily with different generations of our extended families.

Any new child who moved into the area or came visiting relatives was soon absorbed into the group (however small the group was), and it was here that we learned to give and take, make allowances and forgive and forget. The advice we got from our parents at the start of each day was simple: look both ways, button up your coat, look out for your sister/brother/cousin, don't go off on your own, don't talk to strangers.

The difference was that in the 1940s children were able to do these things. Parks had rangers to keep an eye on things and there wasn't the amount of traffic that there is now. They were good years.
A West Riding girl
Mild delivere to the door. As a kid I got to ride with our milkman in the afternoon. He would finish his route, go back to the dairy [which he ran with his brother], take out the empty bottles and load several cans of ice cream for a parlor near my house. When the empties came out, I got to finger scoop whatever they had not scraped out to sell.
Jim from A Little Town in NE Ohio
In the first years after I finished my studies we lived with 4 friends in a large house we shared. Yes, indeed this was "Friends" but this was the real thing. It all happened long before that series was on the television. It also was the real thing. We didn't have a television, but a scrapheap hifi, with a lot of records (we often danced), secondhand games like Monopoly, Pictionary, and cards. There was always company, and many friends who lived elsewhere would pop in at almost any moment of the day because they knew someone would always be around. We invented quizzes for ourselves and even went together on holiday in a secondhand car in that took us to Spain and Morocco. There were also lesser moments, like discussions on dishwashing and cleaning, but even that often turned out well, because there was always someone else to help. Very often a party would spontaneously start after we finished the things to do. We lived together for three years, and then we split up each to live in his own house. Still, from time to time we meet again, and later when my kids are old enough (that day isn't that far away) I hope they can find friends and a house to do just the same thing.
Bart from Ghent
physical activies, i.e., jump ropes, hopscotch, four square, and the like. Using our imaginations and less media to keep us informed about the usual. Family activies like pickniking, croquet, tether ball, etc. I miss the old days when we could ride our bikes without worrying about who may abduct us at any time. Peace to all the children of the world! May they all see it sooner than later!!
Elizabeth from California
Violet in Brighton who made the first contribution to the White Dot pre-tv generations archive, passed away last week aged 94. Thank you Violet.
Andi Mindel
Out door get togethers with covered dishes live music, dancing,conversing,horse shoe throwing & other out door activities. Also indoor get togethers these are things that pull a community together. Sitting on your porch or a neighbors talking playing music singing playing chess or cards. helping your neighbors with chores at no charge just to be kind and interact to enjoy each other not to mention keeping your neighborhood beautiful and home...
McCuskey From morgantown, West Virginia
Personality and engagement with others.
anonymous from anytown
My grandmother was 106 when she died two years ago. She never liked looking back, but once I did manage to draw her into conversation about what was different now vs. when she was growing up. I think she was about 100 at that time, which would put that conversation in 1998.

She said the biggest difference between her early life vs. later life was that there was no media telling us what we are thinking. No polls, no highly intrusive and structured broadcasts of this other reality that makes us less sure of ours. So people depended on each other for constructing that, not on electronic images from a screen.

Her family spent a lot of evenings singing around the piano. She said this was a major after-dinner activity from the 1900s to the 1940s, and I have piles of sheet music from that time to prove it. My dad and his sisters could sing three-part harmony to all the old standards of the era, really well too.

My grandmother's kids rode bikes, hiked, and did a ton of chores. Gardening, hanging out laundry, sweeping the house. They all had close neighborhood friends that they kept in touch with in old age. In fact, my aunt married her childhood sweetheart and they were married over 50 years. Relationships were built on lots of time and activity, rather than lots of pretend and watching fantasy.

My grandmother worked hard all her life. She remembered the US before there were any paved roads, and travel was hard work. She knew life without electricity or indoor plumbing, which she never romanticized. She kept a garden until her 80s and took up yoga in her 60s, and could do even advanced yoga positions until about age 103. She joined the WAC during WWII, traveled around the world three times, was in real estate in California, then retired to North Carolina. She made her last cross-continent flight at age 104. She was always on the go.

She played a lot of card games and was a good cheater at most of them. Lord, was there a book she never read? In her late 90s she began reading books on quantum physics because she'd read just about everything else.

My grandmother was kind of tough and mean. She was cut from a generation who knew plenty of hard times and had no patience with whining. I was intimidated by her for most of my life. Once I quit watching TV and started understanding more about real relationships, though, we bonded. The last thing she did before she died was hug me.

Many thanks.
anonymous from anytown
Another 70's kid...

Helen's post brings back great memories.

"Don't go off on your own"

"Get us if anything happens or you're worried".

"Put your coat on"

"Go off and play"

This was the normal style of parenting in the place where I grew up. I remember how we cared for one another as kids - making sure the younger ones could join in and have fun, never letting anyone go off alone.

I also remember zipping up our parka coats and wandering around for hours pretending to be deranged space zombies.

Rain & cold hardly ever stopped us playing out - we had our camps (dens) to play in.

We also watched TV - probably about 90 minutes a week max but it's hard to sit in front of TV when you're so used to real physical & mental activity.

Olympics on TV? Time for street olympics!

Tour de France - Non - Tour de Wigan!

You get the picture. Oh, one more thing: As I remember it, cars had to slow down and wait for us when we played in our street.

It was a shared, common meeting space. Remember that anyone?
Ged, Wigan, UK
I was an only child and read a lot. Maybe that was why I began a lifetime's enjoyment of reading and writing. I became a very happy English Teacher. To this day I remember a favourite book - 'Good Words for the Young'. It predated the works of Arthur Mee but belonged to a similar genre.
anonymous from anytown
Childhood in the 1970’s, St Helens, England

Knock, knock - knock- knock- knock (pause) – knock - knock
“Hello Helen’s mum. Is Helen playing?”

This was the beginning of many happy evenings and days as a child, growing up just before parents decided they had to try to control and monitor everything their children did in their free time.

Amongst thousands of things, I particularly remember:

“Skilly” – anarchic, large scale 2 team game where 1 team tries to capture the other team and bring them back to base. The opposing team can set their captured team mates free by touching base without being caught. Our games would last all day and be spread over at least a square kilometre. My interest in long-distance running surely stems from my love of this game.

“Army” – not very p.c., but a great game with no losers or goal. It was just a lot of girls & boys pretending to be soldiers engaged in urban guerrilla warfare, creeping around and sneaking up on one another.

“White man no good unless…” – taking turns to be an American Indian Chief who sets daring tasks for the “white man”. Sometimes the Chief had a digital watch so he or she could time our exploits.

“Kerby” – perfect for 2 people. Simply throw a football across road to hit the kerb in a satisfying way. If you miss, your partner catches it and can have a go.

“Bicycle tig” – great because the younger players with smaller bikes had the advantage for a change.

“Cushion tig” – if you get hit by the cushion, you’re “it”.

We never had a problem getting to sleep.
Our clothes were almost permanently dirty, patched and ripped.
There were tears, accidents and fights, but also laughter and reconciliation.
We were always hungry at mealtimes and really enjoyed food.

We had a TV, and we watched some programs but playing out was so much more fun!
Helen, UK
Kids don't know what to do when they go out to the playground if they can't play soccer or basketball. We made up our own games. Sometimes they were the ones you've all heard about, but mostly they were things we came up with on our own. We played different kinds of tag, the boys played Army or going to Scout camp. We marked out areas for everyone to have their own "house" and played what I now call "real-life". We had a TV starting when I was 8, but it was for watching news and sports. We kids weren't interested in either till we were older and so we played, we gardened, we did chores around the house and yard, we read independently and to each other. My neighbors were Hispanic just learning English and they loved us to read to them. My Mom and Grandparents read to us a lot also. We loved to go to the library and check out books. We could walk there by ourselves and went usually once a week. We read to each other at dinner times and on automobile trips. I really feel sorry for today's kids who don't know how to play with each other and enjoy each other's company. They don't enjoy being read to or reading by themselves. They want to be entertained all the time and I see that as I try to teach them important concepts. If it's not entertaining it's not worth the effort as far as they are concerned. It saddens me.
The teacher from the Big Lake
...or Smith's Crescent as our side of the road was called. I'm the little blond boy who played kiss chase with Dinou! We shared fascinating talks on all kinds of things while sitting on the kerb pushing dust and stones down the drain and she (allegedly) was interested in my white mice too! We had a TV but childrens TV was only on between 5 and 6 which left you with the whole rest of the day to amuse yourself, especially on school holidays. In no particular order of preference or acquired skill level, activities and amusement also consisted of (and I still believe many of these should have become olympic sports!) - building rafts out of old cable drums and playing pirates in the local sand and gravel pit (well, WE thought it was safe!), utilising the mountains of gravel for a pantheon of games including sliding, making forts etc. In 'season' there were ice slides, conkers, making bows and arrows out of local willow trees (no-one ever lost an eye!), ball games on the green and, when the grass had been cut by the council, grass forts and huge piles of grass in the 'rec' to jump into from the swings or the garage roof. There were marbles and 'scraps' (the paper swapping kind as well as the 'punch-up' and make it all up tomorrow kind', cafes in garden sheds including the universal delicacies of rhubarb and sugar plus apple slices and milk. Raiding the local landfill for various items from old theatrical reject swords, costumes and guns to those metal 'E' shapes from transformers which made great boomerangs. Climbing (and falling out of) trees, bike riding, karting, roller skating, bird nesting, ice sliding and snowball fights / building snowmen in winter (there was actually snow then!). Subbuteo, model soldiers, scalextric, airfix kits and, unknown to modern generations, a thing called reading books. Music was either via Mum's radio programmes or a crystal set clipped to dad's car for reception. Cowboys and Indian games - 'join on for WA-AARRR'! games which rivalled any army basic training courses. British Bulldog, Cubs and Scouts.... how did we manage to fit it all in? Orange juice and sticky red and orange lollies from the ice cream van, bubble gum and associated card-collecting from the loacal sweet shop. Paddling, frogging, stickleback and frogspawn collecting and a tendency to adopt any poor unfortunate animal as a 'stray' who wandered into 'our' patch! We cut and grazed and bruised ourselves, applied dock leaves to nettle stings and stayed out from dawn til dusk unless we needed feeding, drink or 'the tawlet'! Mazes in cornfields, tree houses, 'secret' camps in garden sheds and the unshakable secure knowledge that we ruled our world and nothing or no-one could ever take it away or hurt us, unless someone 'told yer mum' as the ultimate retribution for some heinous crime or misdemeanour which resulted in enforced 'back garden' imprisonment until at least lunchtime. There is so much more........ which makes us so unique and fabulous as a generation.
Clint from Sleapshyde
I was born in the UK in the mid 50's. I'm the second eldest of four, my father was a nurse - poorly paid - and my mum didn't have time to do any organised paid work outside the home due to caring for us kids and a husband. We had little or no money - no car, no fridge, no gadgets, no TV. Crikey, we couldn't afford shop bought clothes - my mum made all our clothes apart from our underwear!

But we did have the radio. Children's Hour was on from about 5 - 6pm every weekday and we listened every day. Uncle Mac, Larry the Lamb (Toytown) and so many good books read to us in Storytime. Children's Hour is responsible for my enduring love of well-written fiction.

I remember being transported to different worlds for fifteen minutes at a time. Whether it was Charles Dickens or Laura Ingalls Wilder, when the announcer indicated that that was all for today I'd feel surprised that I was actually still sitting with my sister on the settee in our living room. I firmly believe that the radio fed and fostered my imagination - I almost always got 10/10 for 'composition' at school.

We always ate at the table and, when my dad was home (being a nurse, he worked shifts) we'd often have the radio on for the comedy programmes. The Navy Lark, Round the Horn, Hancock's Half Hour etc. I blame my love of word play on those programmes. I credit them with my listening skills, too.

When I was a child, we 'played out'. We went outside and ran about a lot. We shared our toys, we made up games, we made friends in a way that children don't seem to anymore.

I lived in what was then the back of beyond....three streets - 'our street', the 'posh bit' and the 'main road' - and it isn't that much changed apart from accessibility. Back then, any new kid was simply accepted once you knew their name. We shared gobstoppers and chewing gum, we licked one another's bloody wounds, fell out and made up, learned to negotiate and appreciate that not everyone was the same as us and that that was no bad thing.

We had a 'rec' (recreation ground) at the end of our street and it was the social hub for anyone who wasn't old enough to work. There was a set of swings, a see-saw, a roundabout and a bumper. We called it a bumper but everyone else I've ever met called these things a 'witches hat'. It was a bumper.

The rec had a set of bars at its entrance so that people could walk in but cars couldn't drive in. These bars were at different heights and were excellent for developing one's gymnastic skills. All through the day children could be found hanging from them at one level or another, perfecting rolls and twists of the most elaborate nature.

We had camps, too. My siblings and I were old hands at camp making - the gardens were huge and my father wasn't a keen gardener. My sister, being the eldest, always bagsied the best camp building plot so the rest of us had to develop spectacular camp building skills. The best one I ever built was made of broken piano pieces in the black currant bushes right up against the back fence of our garden. No-one even knew it was there for weeks!

I remember the boys in our street making carts out of old bits of wood and pram wheels steered by string. It looked like so much fun till I realised they didn't have brakes...

I learned to ride a bike (two wheeler) in my back garden. It was my mum's bike... no stabilisers or any of that namby pamby stuff. I was about nine years old and fell off that huge, heavy thing more times than I could count. It hurt, but I did it... The sense of achievement was monumental!

I used to spend hours playing two ball up against next doors wall...just counting how many times I could throw and catch without dropping.

I skipped a lot.

I made daisy chains in the summer and in the winter I read. I can remember having raindrop races with my brother - on a rainy day, pick a raindrop on the window and see whose gets to the bottom of the pane first.

I remember the smell of real wax crayons.

On Tuesdays the Butchers van came to our street and my mum bought the meat. After unwrapping it all from the sheets of paper she'd give me the ones with little or no blood on so that I had something to draw on. When I'd used up all the butcher paper I had to make do with drawing in pencil on the tiles around the fireplace till the next Tuesday.

I played kiss chase around some workmen's huts that were on the green in our street one summer with a boy who lived five doors away from me. I loved him so that way that only children can. I remember being out quite late - for me - one summers evening just talking with him. We live together now....after 40 years.

My friend Linda P had all those string puppets - you remember? The witch and the donkey were my favourites. She never played with them! The strings w
Dinou from Sleapshyde
I grew up in South Africa during the apartheid era, and was introduced to TV in my mid-teens. We used to get 2 hours of programming per day which was broadcast first in English then repeated in Afrikaans. When we watched TV it was as a family. TV wasn’t scripted into our daily routine. Tap, ballet, Spanish and modern dance lessons were, as was music, elocution and after school activities such as chess, debating, tennis and netball for me (soccer, cricket and rugby for my brother). We certainly weren’t restricted or confined by the emerging broadcasts, and in the beginning TV had little impact on our lives. We preferred getting the 16mm projector out every other Friday night and watching a movie with our cousins. Far more exciting when the film sprockets caught and started burning at the crucial moment in a cowboy movie, or the tea and cake breaks that would happen when the lights had to come on to change reels. Growing up in the bush was far more entertaining and interesting than any television programme, and it was only when I arrived in the UK that I became aware of the addictive nature of television watching and the idea of television being an always on, 24/7 backdrop to life.

Recently, my mom and sister arrived in the UK from South Africa. Within hours of their arrival, they were sat in front of the tiny portable television lurking in the living room corner. They’d travelled thousands of miles to see me, and TV was part of their way of being together with me. Of course I did not, nay could not, participate. I’d rather wash dishes in isolation with a paper bag over my head and ear plugs.

It is interesting though that television has emerged as something my family do as a group activity, where you are expected to sit and watch a selected programme together. In contrast, my 6 year old son has a computer, television and playstation all set up and waiting for him, and him alone, in his bedroom at his father’s house, where I have no control over his singular, self-regulated involvement with digital technology and broadcast. Anyhow, I bought him a TV-b-gone for his birthday, and he knows the rules in my house. Perhaps when he thinks back on his life with television one day, he’ll remember some of those happy moments we’ve had switching off television sets in public places!
anonymous from anytown
In South Africa we only got TV in 1975, when the first test broadcasts started. We could not afford a TV right away, and only got a black and white one in 1980. And of course, living behind a hill meant we had very poor reception! (So that's what snow looks like?!) What did we do before then? Evenings centred around supper, so we would play outside until dark and then go inside, quite hungry and bug my mom until supper was ready. Supper was served at a big round dining table, and we spent about two hours there, talking and eating. Afterwards, we would listen to the radio, usually just music but sometimes also radio theatre, which was quite good. Friday nights were the time for the Top Twenty hit parade which went on until midnight. Of course, radio didn't interfere with socialising. We used to visit quite a lot back then. My brother tried to teach me to play chess - okay, I know the moves, but that doesn't mean you can play. We made hand puppets, or dressed up, or played "dark room", which is a frightening kind of hide-and-seek. I loved to build model planes (not the Airfix ones, ones made from plans and balsa wood). Or told ghost stories. Today, we have TV with probably more than 100 channels from all over the world. But we have a young baby, and we spend a lot of time with her, or in the kitchen preparing dinner (which has always been a hell of a lot of fun).
Mowl from South Africa
building wigwams.climbing walls/trees - anything dangerous!group skipping games with very long rope. seasonal games.leap frog/hop penny winkle.
You mention the generations that have grown up without TV. Yes, I can relate to that - in my growing-up years we didn't even have a radio, we were too poor (I was born in 1935). Even when I was about 10 and someone gave us a second-hand radio, it was powered by heavy rechargeable batteries because we had no electricity. We didn't actually get electricity in that cottage until 1958, and people round about said to my mother: 'How wonderful - now you'll be able to get a TV!' My mother said: 'No chance - I'm getting a washing-machine'. And she did - a second-hand English Electric top-loader with power wringers. She thought all her Christmases had come at once...

The first time that TV really impacted on me was when my first husband and I returned from 2 years in Cyprus, that was in September 1962. Before we went, we'd gone round all his relatives, cousins, aunts etc, they'd all been very sociable, given us a party etc. When we came back we found it was different. Everyone was sitting with their chairs turned away from us, towards this box in the corner, and we were soon told 'Be quiet, don't interrupt, we're watching Coronation Street'. And when they did finally deign to talk to us, a comment was made about one of my names (one I don't use any more!) being the same as one of the main characters. And they seemed to think that was a huge joke, because this particular character was seen as a harridan, a battleaxe.

One thing also that occurs to me about the 'generations that grew up before TV' - why is it seen as being so essential to their lives? On reaching age 75 you are given a free TV licence and I've been told that 'older people like this, they want it to continue, TV does make such a big difference to their lives'. So, having grown up without it, it's seen as almost a necessity in the closing decades of one's life.

I was in hospital for 10 days early December, and the hospital now has a new system by which you have a monitor screen beside your bed, you can use the phone and also watch TV or listen to the radio. The woman in the bed next to me was happy with this - 'I can't bear to miss Coronation Street and Strictly Come Dancing' - so she made use of this facility by paying with £5 cards that someone had to get for her from a machine outside the ward. I wasn't bothered - as long as I have books to read I couldn't bother about watching TV.

We do watch it - the wildlife programmes are a joy. Recently we saw a very rare and secretive animal, the snow leopard, which had taken hours, weeks and even months to film - we'd never see anything like that by any other means. And a recent programme on the European eagle owl in North Yorkshire. When you see things that you wouldn't see otherwise, it makes it worthwhile having a TV. But there is certainly an awful lot of dross on there, and my DH and I probably spend a lot more time at the computer than we do watching TV. We also listen to BBC Radio 4.

We have one TV set in the sitting-room, and I wouldn't dream of having any more. Some people ask us 'Haven't you got a TV set in your bedroom?' Wouldn't dream of it. Nor in the kitchen, nor anywhere else. I really deplore the habit that some people have, of eating meals on the sofa with eyes glued to the TV set. In our house, and in every house we've ever lived in, we eat meals sitting at a table. Occasionally I do see a programme called 'Honey we're killing the kids' about children's health, behaviour and future prognosis and it's amazing how often the rules laid down are: 'Remove all TV sets, PlayStations etc, from children's bedrooms, have one TV and put a time-limiter on it so that the children are watching TV for 2 hours maximum daily'.

I remember a man I met while I was a student nurse, 1957-60. He said when he came in from work every day his first question was 'why isn't the TV on?' And he would switch it on, and it stayed on until he went to bed. He said 'he'd bought it, paid for it, and he wanted it to be on'.
Check out the wonderful site with hundreds of memories, pictures and rules of non-TV outdoor games!
anonymous from anytown
My buddies and I in Loucan Ireland played a game called "mumblypeg" where we flung a pocket knife into the walls of the rental house we lived in. I had no pocket knife, so I used a steak knife. Mom had a fit when she caught us.
anonymous from anytown
I was evacuated during the war. When I returned to London, I used to play with my mates in the bomb shelters.
Dom in Hove, 70 years old
My mother had a gramophone. We didn’t have much money. She bought it in a second-hand shop and we’d have our friends over and dance around the kitchen.
Violet in Brighton

before we all got boring

What games did you play? How did you relax? How did you get into trouble? What did you talk about and think about? Did real life feel different before people just watched it on TV?

talk to older adults!

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