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Caplan: Why TV is Great for the Family

Love this post by Bryan Caplan:

Why T.V. is Great for the Family

Yesterday my baby acquired a valuable life skill: He learned how to watch television.  I’m thrilled for at least three reasons:

1. Television is fun.  I don’t want my son to miss out on one of life’s great pleasures.

2. Television is a cheap electronic baby-sitter that allows parents of young kids to get a much-needed break.

3. When my son is older, the threat to deprive him of television will become one of our most convenient and effective tools of discipline.  The naughty corner‘s usually enough, but when bad behavior persists, it’s time for a night without t.v.

Won’t t.v. stunt my baby’s cognitive development?  Hardly.  Twin and adoption studies find zero long-run effect on IQ of all family environment combined.  Television’s isn’t just a drop in the bucket; it’s a drop in a bucket that doesn’t hold water.

One reason I like it is I’m sick of “Oh, I don’t have a television” snobs. Also of hand-wringing one-size-fits-all humorless drones.

Another development I like is the rise of the slackers and hackers and young who don’t have TVs anymore, not because they are anti-TV pretentious faux-intellectual snobs, but because they are cheap (though some pretend they are not) and prefer to use Hulu, laptops, Netflix streaming, and so on instead of paying for cable.

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{ 5 comments… add one }

  • Paul Vahur November 9, 2010, 11:05 am

    3. When my son is older, the threat to deprive him of television will become one of our most convenient and effective tools of discipline.

    People are different, this a threat I have never used, my daughter does not care about TV that much. And she behaves well too :-)

    • Stephan Kinsella November 9, 2010, 11:45 am

      I actaully agree w you on this–I don’t agree w Caplan on all this but it’s refreshing to see someone buck the anti-TV snobbery tide. I think there are better discipline techniques, along the lines of Positive Discipline, Montessori approach, and the Love and Logic approach.

  • Elevic Pernis | The Road to Weirdom November 13, 2010, 4:46 pm

    I believe excessive TV watching is a waste of time. I prefer reading your books or doing productive stuff. But I still watch some shows, especially if I’m stressed.

  • Slim934 November 17, 2010, 8:35 am

    I used to watch TV essentially for one reason only: Turner Classic Movies.

    Well that and I really liked some of the offerings on Adult Swim (The Venture Brothers, Metalocalypse are the biggies).

    I did the cable with Netflix route and I would probably never go back if given the choice. The reason is because I am totally a cheapskate, but seriously I can get better stuff by paying 10 bucks a month than by paying like an extra 50 for the television service on top of the internet.

    I understand where the TV-snobs come from though, most of the stuff on television is utter garbage. There are occasional gems (the new Walking Dead series on AMC for example), but for every one of those there are about 6-8 shitty and unrealistic cop dramas and 3-4 bad sitcoms. Not to mention the horrendous reality shows. Seriously you get a much better value with netflix where you can actively filter what you see for a lower price compared to shelling out 50 bucks for largely bad stuff.

    • Stephan Kinsella November 17, 2010, 8:46 am

      “I understand where the TV-snobs come from though, most of the stuff on television is utter garbage. ”

      Comma splice! says the grammar snob. :)

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