Television ownership is on the decline.

I grew up in a small Quebec town with poor television reception, in an era where, to get good reception, you needed a television aerial on your roof. It turns out that aerials were such a passing fad that none of my patients know what these are. In fact, when I mentioned television aerials I was asked if these were “a thing” in those hundreds of years without electricity.

What this means is that in sixty years, we have moved from a time when it was not uncommon for people not to own a television to the present, when, once again, there are homes without televisions because many people consume T.V. programs on their phones, tablets or computers.

My mother limited how much television my brother and sisters and I were able to watch. For many years, she was convinced that I had poor vision because I had watched too much television. Her view was not unusual. Parents in the 1970’s worried about the impact of television on youth the way parents today worried about the impact of the internet and social media.

Remembering this, my inner teenager gleefully gives you this advice for strengthening your family: get a television if you don’t have one. There is nothing more lonely than four people in a household each streaming their favourite program on a tiny personal device. Why not sit together, in front of a television with your children and find out from them what everyone sees in Riverdale? Watch a holiday special, although my sources suggest that The Grinch is a better choice than Hallmark Christmas movies. Or you can suggest that kids give their Dad the best present ever and watch a football game together. The point is that television is something you can do as a family and actually talk about at the dinner table.

With everyone likely to be spending the holidays at home in their bubbles, you can even arrange a virtual get together with sisters and brothers and grandparents and uncles and aunts and cousins, while everyone watches the same show after you have all had the dinner you would have had together. It’s not the same as most years – but it might help.

This year the pandemic has turned everything upside down. In the years since its invention, television has been much maligned. Maybe it’s time to turn all that negativity upside down and look on television as Marty Rubin did.

“Nothing calms an anxious mind like a little mindless entertainment.”
― Marty Rubin

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