Web This Site

Monday, February 20, 2006

Booting the tube for TV-turnoff week

April 27, 2005

This is International Turn-off-the-TV week. Or as I like to call it, seven days of torture.

They tell me it’s possible to enjoy life without television. Frankly, I’m not convinced. But I’m giving it a shot.

I know what you’re thinking: Jennifer not watching television, the Devil must be freezing. But it’s true. In the spirit of promoting healthier ways to spend our time, I’m booting the boob tube for one week. And I’m not alone. Hundreds of children, adults, and even one small town in America have vowed to shut off the television until Sunday.

For information on this campaign, visit the Web site www.tvturnoff.org. The site offers suggestions on what to do with all that extra time you’ll have on your hands. It has an activity guide for those distraught souls who are so lost without the idiot box that they can’t decide what to do. There is even a catchy little slogan to chant: “Dare to be free. Turn off the TV.”

The goal is to encourage families to engage in physical outdoor activities or to stay indoors and read. The Web site has numerous scientific studies and evidence that allege television viewing is just this side of Satan. One study links young children's television time to an increased likelihood of bullying. Supposedly, a child watching about three hours a day is nearly 30 percent more likely to become a bully, than a child watching no television, according to the study.

Some studies claim that watching television can lead to attention disorders, obesity, and all kinds of horrible effects. Well, sure, it may do all of that, but have they seen Clark Kent? That alone is worth suffering a little attention disorder.

The last thing you’d expect from a TV columnist is to tell you to turn off the TV. But it may just change your life. Sadly, it seems television has evolved from a form of electronic entertainment to a baby-sitter or an excuse for families not to communicate. I’ve seen small children sit for hours watching cartoons, instead of engaging in play or developmental activities. I’m even of guilty of ignoring a phone call or a conversation when one of my favorite shows is on. I’m not sure shutting off the tube for a week will convince me, and the rest of the world, to completely change our lifestyles, but it’s a start.

The TV-Turnoff Network cites some scary numbers on television-viewing habits to help convince you:

  • TV is on an average of seven hours and 40 minutes a day in American homes.
  • By age 18, the average American child sees 200,000 violent acts on TV.
  • The average American watches more than four hours a day.
  • By age 18, children will witness 16,000 murders on television.
  • The number of commercials viewed by age 65: 2 million.
  • One-year-olds in America watch an average of six hours a week.

If that doesn’t convince you to take a break from the small screen, there are plenty more statistics at the Web site to frighten you into submission.

It’s day three of no TV for me, and I’m doing OK. I haven’t caved yet. Of course, they couldn’t have chosen a worse week for the campaign. The JAG series finale is slated for Friday. And after 10 years, it looks like Harm may finally pop the question to Mac. How can I miss that?

I won’t of course. I’ve programmed my VCR to catch it. Don’t worry. I won’t watch it until next week. The message of this effort is not to black out TV for good, just to watch less. Whew! That I think I can do.

It’s tough, though. I’m barely making it through without my daily morning dose of CNN. And no Lost or Veronica Mars makes Jennifer a little cranky. I’m weak, Tubers. But, I’m going with the idea of “Turn off TV. Turn on life.”

So join me in putting down the remote and picking up a tennis racket, a basketball, or a book. We’ll do it together. Let the torture continue.

Originally published 4/27/05 in The Exponent Telegram newspaper.


Copyright 2007 Tube Talk