Why the TV is Permanently Turned Off in Some Homes

by Tanya Thomas on Aug 26 2008 8:57 AM

An up-coming book by Marina Krcmar, associate professor of communication at Wake Forest University talks about why some families shun the TV. The most common reasons for living without the “idiot box” include protecting children from sex and violence, spending time with family and engaging in other activities and also not to be plagued by commercials promoting consumerism.

The book will be published August 28 by Routledge.

Krcmar wanted to find out why some people permanently turn off the TV, while the average American watches three hours of television each day.

"Non-viewers perceive television to have power. They believe it can steal time, can affect consumer behavior and can influence how autonomous children are," Krcmar said.

Krcmar interviewed 120 adults and children from 62 different households who do not watch television. Some filled out a survey or completed diaries documenting how they spent their time.

She visited the homes of 15 participants and conducted extensive interviews with the adults and children in the household.

Some in the study never owned a TV, others did not replace one when it broke or did not have a television due to financial considerations. Some owned a TV, but kept it hidden away and occasionally pulled it out to watch a movie on DVD.

To allow her to make comparisons, Krcmar also interviewed 92 participants from 35 households who do watch television.

"Based on the interviews, the surveys and the time-use diaries, it appears that those who do not watch television not only reject television in order to keep sex, violence, shallow news coverage and consumerism out of their lives, but also to encourage family interaction, their children's independence and creativity, and a wise use of their time," Krcmar said.

Those with very liberal or very conservative political views are among those most likely to say 'no' to television, she said. Although more than half of the non-viewing study participants fell into politically opposite categories, others fell across the demographic spectrum.

A common characteristic among non-viewers was that, compared to viewers, they had "every strong opinions not only about television but also about those issues they saw as being associated with it such as politics and couple-interaction," Krcmar said.

"In other words, they are zealous and idealistic," Krcmar added.