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Should You Be Worried About Having A TV In The Bedroom?

By Laura Anderson

There are plenty of arguments against having a TV in the bedroom. Most suggest that you’ll sleep better if you doze off not having just watched dragons attacking white walkers, or Sheldon whining to a chorus of fake laughter. Others say that focusing on TV means you are not focusing on real people, so real relationships suffer.

One survey in 2008 found that kids with TVs in the bedroom do worse at school than those who don’t. Some say adverts work better on us when we are tired and more susceptible. “Must book on Trivago,” you might find yourself saying as you doze off, even if you don’t use hotels. Given all these warnings, I was surprised at the results of my own very small and entirely unscientific survey of friends, family and acquaintances.

Just about everyone had a TV in the bedroom. It’s not surprising really, new homes come pre-wired for bedroom TVs and a smart TV doesn’t even need wiring if you have decent wi-fi.

But I did see the amount of discomfort in admitting bedroom TV watching rise as the watchers’ age rose.

Young ones openly said a bedroom TV made sense because they could do their own thing. An oldie in a retirement home said it made perfect sense because it helped pass the hours in comfort.

However, the middle-aged could see a bigger picture. The thought of wasting the final hours of a day (they would never get back again) watching TV felt a little wrong. They still did it, though.

To understand how we got to this point I talked to a businessman who probably knows more about TV than anyone else. And yes he always has TV in the bedroom. Kevin Thorn, from Ascot TV Services, got into the TV industry in 1960. Back then a top-of-the-range black and white Philips Glide-a-rama cost about 225 pounds – that’s when he was earning about 3 pounds a week, so no-one was buying those for the bedroom. But as he pointed out, small portable transistor radios were popular in bedrooms, so the urge to liven up the bedrooms was always there.

Likewise, TVs only made their move when they got small and cheap enough and the breakthrough set to his mind was the Sanyo 14-inch colour set of the 1970s. He remembers putting out out an advert saying he was “expecting” these baby TVs and pre-sold 150 of them. Many were bought for caravans, but they slipped into bedrooms out of holidays. Thorn says wardrobes were a popular spot to try and hide the early chunky TVs with the handy deep back and low top shelf.

However, the digital and flat screen revolutions created a TV that was even more bedroom friendly, as far as looks go. The thinner and lighter TVs could be hung like art on the walls. Here’s a funny thing, though. Just when it seems TVs have become understated, sleek, and beautiful enough to perch in the perfect spot high on the bedroom wall, maybe their day has already passed like the transistor radio?

Another question I asked in my survey was, do you use a mobile phone or a tablet in the bedroom? The few anti-TVs gave a long pause. Of course they did. But that wasn’t a TV so it didn’t count. Mobile phones and tablets have slipped under the radar of the TV-in-bedroom debate.

We are so attached to them, we don’t recognise them as a TV screen substitute. They glow, they suck in attention, they pixel blast eyes, rev up minds (or flatten them) and they respond to touches, making them even more intimate. This is the new threat to the the bedroom as a place of peace and rest, and good luck getting them out.

One guy told me if he propped a tablet up on a pillow on his chest really close and used earphones it was just like looking at a huge screen with surround sound. This is someone who said he wouldn’t have a TV in the bedroom.

Technology has changed the playing field, as it always does.

– Originally appeared on

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