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December 21, 2004

Alex Tabarrok's Children Are Upset

He writes:

Marginal Revolution: Tivo Blues: I am on holiday in Canada.  Never having known anything different, the children are terribly confused and distraught to find that at Nana's house their shows are not on whenever they want them to be on. I use the opportunity to tell them about progress - when Daddy was little he had to get off the couch just to change the channel! - I refrain from further explaining that the CPI does not adequately account for improvements in the quality of life.  Tivo is great.   

Posted by DeLong at December 21, 2004 10:28 AM

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Does the CPI take into account that our kids are getting fatter? (Tivo is evil?)

Posted by: jerry at December 21, 2004 11:25 AM

Yes Tivo is evil. My used to be neighbor has 4 kids. The parents are above average in height but on the money in weight. The teen age kids are rotund! Tivo in the house.
I watched the kids grow up and when in grammer school they were trim and fit. Not now.

Posted by: dilbert dogbert at December 21, 2004 12:17 PM

Sounds like an air-tight conclusion, Dilbert. Right now the sun is shining outside my window and it is 13 degrees fahrenheit. I conclude that shinging sun = low temperatures.

Posted by: Wally at December 21, 2004 12:32 PM

Not only is TIVO not evil, it is a god send. Not only can I watch TV programs when I want, but I can skip through all the comercials and thus not be insulted by the crap Madison Ave thinks I think, but I watch shows in about half the time.

As for your neighbors kids, maybe a few less big macs and happy meals, would help more than getting rid of TIVO. Or perhaps getting candy and soda machines out of their schools. But blaming TIVO (and not TV) in pretty crazy. Not only should they be able to watch the same amount of TV in less hours (at more appropriate times of the day), but they should also not be bombardid with the McDonalds commercials.

Posted by: philip at December 21, 2004 01:27 PM

Eliminating TIVO isn't the answer. You won't see any overweight kids here:


Let's bring back the good old days and solve the Social Security crisis all in one! I'm sure Bushco will be able to frame the discussion in just the right way, the media will run with it and all of America will see the light.

Posted by: Dubblblind at December 21, 2004 03:42 PM

The major benefit of TiVo (time-shifting) w\a\s\ is being answered in the market by "on demand" programming.

The other advantage (lack of commercials) will be legislated away.

If TiVo (or its equivalent) were added to CPI, would Alex T. or his compatriots at MR complain about the index being inflated? I know which way to bet.

Posted by: Ken Houghton at December 22, 2004 06:23 AM

timeshifting, yes is the majr benefit, but the big scale timeshifting (e.g. watching west wing on saturday) isn't the real killer app, the VCR lets me do that. it's the short timeshifts while watching (relatively) live TV that's the real winner. gotta go to the bathroom? pause. phone rings? pause. missed something because of some random disturbance? rewind. sports broadcast didn't choose to show replay? rewind.

i find myself hitting the rewind button on the car stereo even when i'm listening to the radio. it's so ingrained!

i sympathize with this fellow's kids. i'm visiting my parents for xmas and sorely miss the pause and rewind buttons on my tivo.

Posted by: timeshifter at December 22, 2004 08:51 AM

I come from a family of 4 kids
Myself and my brother born 69 and 71 are about 10% overweight but otherwise fit.
My younger brother and sister, 74 and 78 are obese.
As far as I can tell the two main external changes between the generations are:
1. Arrival of entertaining Video game platforms reducing the number of kids willing to play outside after school.
2. Cutbacks in phys ed at high school. I had a mandatory vigurous program. My sister was allowed to opt out if she wanted to.

Posted by: Nemisis at December 22, 2004 09:28 AM

The holidays are always the worst because we stay with my brother in law, who had every channel known to man but no Tivo. I swear to god, my thumb twitches any time I'm watching TV and see a 3 second bumper, whether or not there's a tivo remote in my hand.

Posted by: dbt at December 22, 2004 11:08 AM

You can't miss Tivo if the tube is off.

Keeping the TV off (except for "Survivor" once a week) contributed greatly to preserving my sanity during the campaign season.

And my 3-yr old wanted to skip lunch yesterday to go to the library for more new books.

I'm not holier than thou--just sharing my experience. I found that maintaining (virtually) no TV is much easier than maintaining a little TV, and I believe that a Tivo would make it that much harder to to restrict viewing to a little TV.

I understand also that wise users could see great benefits. If there are just a few shows they want to watch, and they restrict recording to those few shows, I agree that the benefits of time-shifting and commercial zapping are substantial.

Posted by: Ottnott at December 22, 2004 12:06 PM