As an only child, I never had anyone to watch my kids shows with, and my mum and dad had very different interests in terms of what they liked to watch, so the only time we were ever really likely to be around the TV at the same time was if Collingwood was playing in the AFL, and even that was rare.
According to Livingstone (2009), the TV was historically marketed as a way of an entire family coming together at the same time to watch TV together, even going so far as to adjust domestic schedules to fit the viewing schedules. While this may have been true in the 1950’s when TV was a new and exciting thing, fast forward to the 21st century and its a very different picture, at least in my family.
I was what some may call a ‘privileged child’ growing up, in that we had Pay TV. This meant that I grew up on a television diet of the best of Disney, with the occasional offering from Nickelodeon thrown in the mix. But to be honest, my clearest memories of watching TV growing up aren’t even at home; they’re with my grandparents.
I used to spend every Friday night with my grandma at their place while my mum and grandpa would go to the raffle. The most vivid experiences I have of these Friday nights was watching ‘Strictly Dancing’ on ABC every week when I was 5. I would make up my own dances and (try to) dance along with the professionals while my grandma would shower me with praise. I even became so invested in the show that my grandma handmade me my own dancing costumes so that I could be dressed up in sequins and glitter just like the dancers on the show (maybe that’s where my glitter obsession came from).
Looking back, its easy to now say that this weekly, dance-filled ritual played a role in my individualisation as a child. Since it’s introduction, the television has played a vital role in the individualisation process for children and adults alike, as it provides the avenues and resources necessary in order to construct ones identity (Livingstone, 2009). At the tender age of 5, I was yet to be widely exposed to the performing arts, but since then I have become fully immersed in everything performative. If I had not been exposed to shows such as ‘Strictly Ballroom’, I may not dipped my toes in the performing arts until much later, altering my personal identity.
The way we view TV has changed again over the last 15 years, with a huge transition towards online viewing and streaming. Gone are the days of frantically running to the toilet in the ad breaks. I could not tell you the last time I watched a TV show with another person, instead preferring to watch my Netflix from the comfort of my own bed, alone and in total darkness.
Catch ya on the flip side,
Livingstone, Sonia (2009) Half a century of television in the lives of our children. The ANNALS of the American academy of political and social science, 625 . pp. 151-163.