A plaque remaining from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem.

Above, a 1934 plaque from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem. Discarded as trash in 2006.

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Entry from June 11, 2016
“Watching too much television gives you square eyes” (Square-eyed)

The joke when television was new (in the 1950s) was that watching too much television gave viewers “square eyes.” Actor and comedian Bob Hope (1903-2003) joked in August 1957, “The kids are watching so much television these days that the next generation will probably be born with square eyes.”

Peter Cadbury (1918-2006), director of Britain’s independent television station, said in December 1957 about limiting his choldren’s television viewing, “I just don’t want my kids to grow into square-eyed maniacs.”

“Square eyes” has also been applied to extensive viewing of computer screens.


(Oxford English Dictionary)
square-eyed adj. joc. affected by or given to excessive viewing of television.
1964 J. Braine Jealous God viii. 136 ‘Square-eyed sods,’ he said.
1976 iListener 8 July 2/2 He called the television set ‘the Devil’s Box’, claimed..that it would turn the bronzed, outdoor-loving youngster into a round-backed, square-eyed weakling.

22 June 1954, The Times-Picayune (New Orleans, LA), “The Column on the Square” by Ed Brooks, pg. 37, col. 2:
An unusual sight met our Square eyes Monday afternoon as we passed a St. Charles radio-TV store: Not a soul was standing in front of the shop.

17 August 1957, The Washington Post and Times Herald (Washington, DC), “The District Line: All We Want Are The Facts, Ma’am” by Bill Gold, pg. B12, col. 3:
(Bob—ed.) Hope’s best barb, I thought, was aimed at TV. “The kids are watching so much television these days,” he gloomed, “that the next generation will probably be born with square eyes.”

21 December 1957, The Arizona Republic (Phoenix, AZ), “No Square Eyes In His Family!,” pg 19, col. 2:
London (UP)—Peter Cadbury, director of Britain’s independent television station, admitted yesterday he allowed his children to watch only two TV programs a week.

“I’m not a Victorian father,” he explained. “I just don’t want my kids to grow into square-eyed maniacs.”

22 December 1957, Dallas (TX) Morning News, “What They Say,” pt. 3, pg. 1, col. 8:
“I’M NOT a Victorian father. I just don’t want my kids to grow into square-eyed maniacs.”—Peter Cadbury, director of Britain’s independent TV station, admitting his children were allowed to watch only two TV programs a week.

22 June 1958, Sunday Herald-Leader (Lexington, KY), “Panning Across” by Joe Coyle, pg. 41, col. 4:
According to a survey, the Hollywoodonhead reports, the average American spends 28 hours per seven-day week, or 1,456 hours per week, in front of a TV set.

“No wonder the strained square eyes, the pooped derriere and the plaintive wail, ‘I hope it’s better tonight!’” the H’head remarks.

16 October 1958, The Stage, Harold Darton’s “Commercial Spot,” pg. 9, col. 1:
It now seems essential to have a monitoring service. If you’ve the mind of an accountant and square eyes, there’s an idea for earning money while “resting”—set up a service to tell artists how much they’ve earned by commercial repeats.

OCLC WorldCat record
Parents talking television : television in the home
Author: Philip Simpson
Publisher: London : Comedia Pub. Group, 1987.
Series: Comedia series, no 46.
Edition/Format: Print book : English
Contents:
Square eyes / Alan Horrox and Vivika Nyberg

OCLC WorldCat record
The boy with square eyes
Author: Juliet Snape; Charles Snape
Publisher: New York : Prentice-Hall Books for Young Readers, ©1987.
Edition/Format: Print book : Fiction : Juvenile audience : English
Database: WorldCat
Summary:
When Charlie’s eyes turn square from watching television and everything else starts looking square too, he cures himself by stimulating his mind with books, puzzles, pictures, and nature.

OCLC WorldCat record
Print media fights back; Goodbye square eyes; The wired guide to advertising : advertising & marketing
Author: T Koenderman
Edition/Format: Article Article : English
Publication: Financial mail, v144 n9 (Apr 11 1997):71-72
Database: Index to South African Periodicals (ISAP)
Summary:
Reports on the following in the field of advertising and marketing: launch of a concerted attempt to promote the print media by the Print Media Association; decreasing figures for television viewing and radio listeners. Illustrates with photographs and a graph

Google Groups: aus.tv
Square Eyes? Sayings & other names for ‘television’
Molly Coddle
10/25/00
Er.......I am searching my tired old brain, trying to recall various sayings used to refer to the television, and television watching. Does anyone have more to add to the following list?
Did your parents try the “you’ll get square eyes” line on you, when you were a young television watcher? What were some of the favorites used in your household? Back in my early years the tv could not be viewed during daylight hours, ‘cos that was only for “lazy” people..

OCLC WorldCat record
Square-eyed Pat
Author: Liz Pichon
Publisher: London : Puffin, 2003.
Edition/Format: Print book : Fiction : Juvenile audience : English
Database: WorldCat
Summary:
Square-eyed Pat is a TV addict. The rest of the family try to lure him away from the TV but nothing works. Drastic action is needed when Pat is found watching 25 TVs all at once and so the TV is banished to the shed. Once Pat has recovered from the trauma of no TV, he discovers all his toys.

Urban Dictionary
square eyes
When your eyes are glued to the boob tube or a computer monitor for hours and hours and hours on end. DUH, because TV’s and monitors are square! Therefore you become a square eyed zombie!!! SQUEAL LIKE A PIG BOY! YEHA!!
(...)
#square #tv #boob tube #glue #zombie
by chA0s_eNgINe February 03, 2009

The New Daily (Australia)
How to make your eyes stronger – naturally
8:02pm, Jun 11, 2016
ANGELA TUFVESSON
The old saying goes that watching too much television gives you square eyes.

With people employed in sedentary office occupations spending an estimated 22 hours a week sitting in front of a computer — and the latest statistics revealing Australians spend almost 35 hours a month staring at smartphone screens — it’s becoming a reasonable concern.

Posted by Barry Popik
New York CityRadio/Television • Saturday, June 11, 2016 • Permalink