I remember getting a TV in my bedroom for the first time in my teens. I think it must have been from a car boot sale or a house clearance or something, because even by early 90s standards it was ancient. Not quite as ancient as the huge TV my Gran and Grandad had, that had wooden sliding doors, but nearly.
It was a black and white TV. I remember it being small but heavy, cream coloured and boxy. It had a line of dials on the front, one for switching it on and off, one for the volume, and a larger dial for tuning it it. Yep, that’s right, like a radio. Any time I wanted to watch TV I had to work my way through the white noise, trying to find a channel free enough from static to make it bearable.
I remember the only channel I could get reliably was S4C – the BBC TV channel broadcast completely in Welsh. I remember one particular night lying in bed, staying awake late to watch snooker, and feeling very sophisticated, even though I couldn’t understand anything being said and had no idea which ball was which.
I’m sure children nowadays would not be so easily thrilled. I’m pretty sure it’s all 4K TVs and live Twitch streaming now. (I’m not entirely sure what live Twitch streaming is, I’ve just heard talk.)
My daughter Belle doesn’t currently have a TV in her bedroom, but she does have an iPad, and for her birthday last year she got a projector and a huge screen that fills the wall opposite her bed. She’s 20 now of course, so I don’t get a say anymore in whether or not she has a television in her bedroom, but I remember when she was younger it being one of those decisions that I wished I had another parent around for. As a single parent you have to decide a lot of things by yourself, like pocket money and when they can have their ears pierced, and a lot of the time you’re never really sure.
I was always resistant to Belle having a TV in her bedroom as a child, because I don’t think it’s an especially healthy addition to a sleep environment. I’ve never had a television in my own bedroom, and very rarely watch TV on my phone or laptop, so it wouldn’t have made sense for me to have one rule for me and another for Belle.
I was quite taken aback to see some research conducted recently by Reliant of 680 parents that found that 45% of children were using TV to fall asleep. Perhaps I’m being old fashioned, but I was really shocked by this. This feels to me like an unhealthy figure and I’d definitely have been worried if the only way that my children had been able to go to sleep when they were young was by watching the television.
Nowadays of course you don’t even need to have a TV in your bedroom to watch television – it could be a phone or tablet or any kind of screen. I don’t know if this is worse, if the light from this kind of screen is more disruptive than a television, and if maybe that’s an argument for children having TVs in their bedroom?
All I can say for sure is that I’d happily go back to the days of my black and white Welsh snooker if it meant not having to make these kinds of decisions.
Do your kids have TVs in their bedrooms? What’s a good age? Leave a comment and let me know.