Limiting so-called screen time is hardly a new idea. When I was growing up, more than a few years ago, I was allowed to watch only so much TV. Staying up past my bedtime to watch a particular show I liked was a privilege that I did not take for granted. Homework was to be done before TV.

My brothers and I were encouraged to read; we were not merely exhorted to read — we had the example of our parents, both enthusiastic readers, consumers of newspapers, magazines and books. We were taken to the library to pick out books regularly as kids. Later, my mom belonged to the friends group of our local library and each year helped organize the library's book sale.

My folks asked us about what we were reading, and actually listened to the answer. Being interested in things, as well as immersing myself in literature, was encouraged. They also talked about their reading with each other. We were thoroughly exposed to the idea that the written word was valuable and that reading was both an important way to stay informed and enjoyable in itself.

Perhaps partly as a result, I became a bit of a TV snob. Even in high school, I was not what I would call a big TV watcher, and a fair proportion of what I did watch was on public television. Don't get me wrong — I watched some shows on the commercial networks — but not very many. Not that my choices were all that elevated: I recall being very fond of "The Waltons," which was about as rosy a view of Depression-era Appalachia as one could imagine, with a helfty helping of saccharine.

Anyway, for years, I looked down on a lot of what was on TV as mindless drivel — and I don't think I was wrong in that. No one ever went broke catering to the lowest common denominator. But feeling superior is apt to trip you up at some point along the way.

So, last summer, we had a big lightning storm and a strike hit the ground near enough to our house to shake up the well water for a while, turning it a rusty red. It knocked out the computer board in our stove, requiring that venerable appliance to be replaced, and caused various other items to malfunction. Fortunately, it did not ruin the enormous plasma TV Maureen had bought a few years ago.

However, after we'd spent a few weeks getting the water system tested and retested and finally sorted out, and the new stove had been delivered, and the repairman had come and fixed the electric garage doors, we noticed that certain ports on the TV no longer worked. We could still watch television; we could still watch a DVD, but the ports that made the picture high-definition (or something like that) were shot. Luckily, even though we'd already filed an insurance claim, the company was willing to compensate us for the damage to the TV as well.

This afforded my best-beloved the opportunity to do something she relishes: research a prospective purchase. She read reviews and looked for prices and was in consumer research heaven for a while. This is a major benefit to me, since I'm an impatient shopper who reads one or two reviews, finds the best price available at the moment for what I want, and plunks the money down. I don't tend to wait for sales or search out deals, etc. And I don't worry about getting "the best" of whatever it is. If it fills my need adequately, I take it. So I have benefited greatly over the years from my spouse's doggedness in product research.

She found us an up-to-the-minute, wafer-thin TV that connects to various streaming services, so we were able to say "so long" to our satellite provider, and we haven't looked back. What's more, I have spent more time in the last six months watching TV than I did in the previous six years, I think. There's all this programming, with no ads, and a lot of it is pretty good.

I'm not turning in my library card yet, but I am rethinking that unflattering epithet, "boob tube."