As someone who was born and raised in the 1990s and 2000s, life without television is hard for me to comprehend. I have always loved hearing stories about the times before I was born, so I was pleased to interview a close family friend about her experiences with television. I knew she would be an interesting person to interview, as hearing her stories are some of my favourite childhood memories. Interviewing her made both of us nostalgic for our pasts, and it certainly put things into perspective. Our childhoods are very different, yet we both have our own memories that somehow manage to collide.
“Sometimes, I was allowed to watch the news with my parents at night,” says 61-year-old Tanya. “My parents first bought a TV in 1963. I was nine years old, and I was just in awe of it.” Tanya was born into a family of three children. Her parents very loving, but they were on the lower side of the socioeconomic scale, and they often struggled to provide some of life’s luxuries. “Lots of other families had TVs before we did, and the kids at school would talk about them all the time. I think my dad noticed that I felt left out, so he eventually managed to buy one. I still don’t know how he managed to afford it – there’s nobody quite like my father.”
Television, however, did not consume all of Tanya’s childhood. Her parents ensured that she and her siblings led active lives, and that they had many hobbies and interests to maintain balance. “There weren’t as many rules about safety as there are today. My parents let me do whatever I wanted, as long as I was outside and they knew I was being careful.” According to Tanya, television only took up an hour or two of her day. Her parents were very strict, and they constantly monitored the television’s use. “Sometimes, I wanted to watch it more, but my parents wouldn’t let me. One day, my siblings and I got into a fight about the TV, and my mum forced us to go outside. She locked all of the doors, and didn’t let us back in until dinner!”
Colour television didn’t become the norm until several years later, but Tanya’s family was happy with their current television, so they stuck with it for many years. “I can’t remember what year we got it (a colour TV,) but I was a teenager. By that point, I was more interested in make-up and boys.” Tanya recalls that her younger brother was still very invested in the TV at that time, and he was allowed to watch more as he got older.
Tanya finds it strange that today, people are able to watch things on huge plasma screens, computers and even on their phones. She has two adult children, and they constantly teach her new things about technology. “My kids think nothing of it. They’re watching TV on their phones – and it’s nearly the same size as my childhood TV!” Tanya laughs. She herself has evolved with technology, and she now owns a plasma TV, an iPad, an iPhone, a computer and a laptop. “I download TV shows on my iPad. I even have Netflix,” she says proudly. “It’s just part of my life – it’s not even exciting. Somehow, I was more excited as a little girl who sat in front of the tiny black and white television waiting for Playschool to start. I may have been poor, but I felt like the richest person in the world sitting in front of that thing.”
Below is a video that shows the evolution of television throughout the years. It provides a visual display of Tanya’s memories of the ever-changing technological device.
REI3000 YouTube Channel 2014, The evolution of television 1930 2030, online video, viewed 20 August 2015,