I won't let my teenager have a television in his bedroom. This is why

Photo: Shutterstock
Photo: Shutterstock 

All my 15-year-old son wanted for his birthday was a television in his room.

He sent link after link to televisions that were on sale. He even Googled "how to get your parents to say yes to a TV in your bedroom" and put forward some comprehensive arguments. We gave him bonus points for creativity and desperation but didn't gift him a TV.

He already has two screens. One is a phone. The other is a laptop. Our house has a games room with a separate TV for gaming and movies, should the children not enjoy watching 4Corners with us parents upstairs. There are plenty of screen options but to have an additional one put in his room was something we considered for a nanosecond then flatly refused.



As the oldest child, he has the biggest room, the one most sought after by his younger siblings. It has glorious sunshine streaming through his window, and a nice dark blind to block out that sunshine when he transitions to vampire mode. An inviting double bed and a surfboard hanging on the wall, it is the stuff of Pinterest dreams (if your standards are teenage-boy).

He spends half his waking hours telling his brothers and sister to "get out!". Add a TV as further temptation and cue hours of fights.

Family interaction time

It's hard enough to engage teenagers when there is nothing to distract them. A screen in a bedroom would mean luring him out would be near impossible. Studies have shown that "older adolescents who have a bedroom television are less likely to engage in healthy activities such as exercising, eating fruits or vegetables, and enjoying family meals." 


With a TV in the bedroom, even with the enticement of food, the teen would have less desire to exit and participate in family life.

After hours screen obsession

What happens when my husband and I retreat to bed and the teen still has the option of flicking through TV channels? Behind closed doors, we have no idea what he's watching, and when he's watching it. It's true that this could potentially be the case on phones and laptops, but the ease of a large screen with a remote from the comfort of your bed, is infinitely more appealing for late-night binge watching than a smaller handheld screen.

Once sleep is interrupted, expect a poorer performance at school and a pretty moody teen at home.

Homework slide

My teen stays pretty on top of his homework, and it is usually completed in a shared home office, where the desktop computer resides. He can also finish assignments on his laptop, but he more often than not chooses the computer. With a TV in his room, the desire to lie on his bed, with the TV on, while "doing homework" on his laptop is a scene I can see playing out over and over again. Bad habits begin here.

One more thing we have to police

Honestly, some days I feel like the screen police. With the introduction of so many addictive computer games, various apps and even homework assignments that require research via the internet, the time my children spend on screens is already excessive. Assigning limits is part of parenting, but boy it gets tedious.

Why would we introduce one more thing we have to keep track of?

Once it's in, it's never coming out

We did consider trialling a screen for a short while to see if the teen was responsible enough to remain within reasonable limits as well as remaining an active, engaged member of our family. But like most things, once you've trodden that path, it's difficult to un-walk the steps! I didn't like our chances of removing the screen once it was in place, so it made more sense to say no from the outset.

We don't have one in our room!

My final reason was that we are in our 40s and don't have a TV in our own room, so why should the teenager get one?

On my son's birthday, his seven-year-old sister proudly handed him the present she'd made. It was a cardboard TV with a picture she'd drawn. Oh, we laughed! Well, all of us bar the birthday boy. I later found that gift face down on his bedroom floor and jokingly asked, "don't you like your new TV?"

His response? "Well, there's only one channel."

Lucky for him, there are multiple channels on the television in the living room.