tvSmarter – Life in a TV Nation

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People Unplugged – new Website


People Unplugged – new Website

How does TV effect individuals and society?

A new website looking at the effects of TV has just gone live. Instead of short blog posts and/or links, will specialize in longer form essays and books reviews. Wilfred Clifton is the webmaster and author and in charge of the graphics. I am also a contributor, writing as Terry Severson.

Hope you will check it out!

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Book Review: Raising Generation Tech

Raising Generation Tech


The standard formula for books on kids, the media, culture, etc. is to describe various studies and to illustrate with real-life stories. This is actually a pretty good formula and was what I was expecting when I started reading “Raising Generation Tech: Preparing Your Children for a Media-Fueled World”. Instead, the author, Jim Taylor does things a little differently. Yes he does go over some of the new research and yes he includes some real life anecdotes, but what stood out for me was his philosophical take on the storied relationship between children, media and family.

As someone who has read extensively on how media is affecting both children and adults, I wasn’t expecting anything particularly new. But you can tell Dr. Taylor has thought about this deeply and has found some new, very interesting ways of looking at these media issues. For example:

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Living Outside the Box – Book Review

Kids playing by
Kids playing, a photo by on Flickr.

Barbara Brock surveyed over 500 Low-TV and No-TV families, and further interviewed a number of these families in person. The result is her interesting and excellent book “Living Outside the Box”. Why have these families given up TV ? What do they do with their time? Are they social outcasts? These are some of the questions Barbara Brock seeks to answer.

What I found most fascinating were the reasons given for living TV-Free. Basically these reasons could be put into four broad categories:

– Resentment and Frustration. Resentment at being raised with too much TV and/or frustration with their own families being too TV oriented.

– Technical Difficulties. TVs breaking down, or moving to an area with poor TV reception. And finding the resulting TV-Free existence to be liberating instead of boring.

– Outside Prompts. Inspirations such as TV-Turnoff Week, Waldorf Schools, and books about the negative effects of TV.

– Raised Without TV. The stereotype is that children raised without TV will become total TV addicts when given the opportunity. As it turns out, growing up without TV was also a major reason for living TV-Free as adults.

And what I liked best about this book was that in addition to facts and figures, Outside the Box is also filled with stories from the interviews and feedback. My favorite story was about Jenny, a mom who would labor over a family dinner and then have to tear her kids and husband away from their separate TVs for a family get-together dinner. Finally, out of frustration, she took the garden shears and literally cut the TV cable. Her youngest son started to cry, her two daughters quickly took off to a friend’s TV-filled house, and her husband just stared in amazement. Now, years later, and still TV free, family dinners have become unhurried and filled with conversation, the kids have found lots to do, and even her husband has discovered that “at least now I know as much about my own kids as I used to know about The Simpsons”.

See also:

30 days live pdf
Found at


Floor Games and Sand Play

Originally uploaded by Eric K.



Neil Postman, argues in his book “The Disappearance of Childhood” that the idea of childhood as a separate, innocent time for play and learning is very much a recent invention.

In hunter gatherer societies children have plenty of time to play and also to learn naturally from older children and adults going about their business.

But, as Postman convincingly argues, the Middles Ages (or the Dark Ages) was a very harsh time for children. Children were expected to work from a very early age, and work hard, and parents were free to do with them as they like. At age 7, they were considered to have reached the age of reason and were given the same sentence for any crime as adults (including hanging for theft).

It wasn’t until the 1600s that the modern conception of childhood started to come about. Parents and community groups and churches opened schools and eventually playgrounds. During the Victorian Era especially, Children’s Literature thrived along with the concept of childhood as an innocent time for play and learning, to be protected from adult concerns. School nevertheless was often harsh, but was a huge step up from factory work and mining and the many other forms of child labor.


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Fame Junkies and TV

Thanks to Chris for recommending this fascinating book.


Why are American’s so obsessed with Fame and celebrities? Jake Halpern, in his book Fame Junkies does an excellent job explaining this mystery. To do so, he gets to know a number of people who are either obsessed with becoming famous or are obsessed with celebrities.


It would be easy to be scornful of obsessed fans and celebrity slaves, but Halpern is instead very sympathetic. As a child he was obsessed with the TV show “Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous”. To the point where his parents became so alarmed that they threw out the TV. He continues to be non TV-watching, which he feels, gives him a useful outsider perspective.


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