Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Turn Off the TV Week

We haven't participated in "Turn off the TV Week" since Chris was in preschool and the whole school encouraged involvement. We've turned it into "Turn Off the Screen" week, although I obviously get an exemption at work. Although we do heavily restrict "screen time" for our kids, they have gotten sucked into becoming screen addicts. Kieran will watch the "Wizard of Oz" every day if he had his way--or other DVDs such as the Wiggles, Fairy Tale Theater, Arthur, etc.--and Chris has been having a heyday since we got DSL and the internet on our home computer last fall. We have deliberately avoided getting cable TV because of Chris' media love.

We are delighted that Chris has made a friend in our neighborhood who goes to a Waldorf School...therefore, no television or computer at all. The boy's mom has requested that the kids play outside in their yard so her son will not be tempted by our computer or TV! That works just fine with us, and we are hoping that it will encourage a healthier screen-free life. For even though he is unable to watch or play on the computer as much as he would like, other past times (such as reading) are often related to media, such as movie novels, comic books, and Disney or Nickelodeon themed books.

The kids are moaning about screen-free week, but we've told them that they can have $10 to spend at a bookstore at the end of the week if they cooperate. Just what we need...more books! We are very fortunate that our kids also love to read in spite of enjoying TV as well! Nicholas is already appearing to be a book and music lover...anything paper in his sight he grabs. Kieran and I have learned that if we read a book with Nicholas around, we need to give him something else to clutch in his hands, or he'll try to grab the book.

When I read these statistics about televisions in the American home, I realize that we are actually doing very well:
  • The average American family has 2.55 people, but owns 2.73 televisions (more televisions than people!). 50 percent of American families have at least 3 televisions, and only 19% have only 1. (We have 1 television, and it's downstairs in the basement family room.)

  • The average home has the TV on for more than 8 hours a day!

  • The average American watches 4 hours and 35 minutes of TV a day. (Children average around 3 hours per day, and they spend more time watching TV than in school during the whole year.)

  • Around 70% of U.S. day care centers use TV during a typical day.

  • One in four children under the age of two has a TV in his or her bedroom.

  • During Saturday morning cartoons, there are more than eight commercials for unhealthy foods per 10 minutes of viewing time! (202 ads during a 4-hour period.)

  • The more TV children watch, the more likely they are to snack between meals, consume foods seen on TV, and attempt to influence their parents' purchasing habits.

  • Children who watch 6 hours a day of children score significantly lower on reading tests than those who watch 1 hour or less a day.
To read more of these types of statistics, or learn more about TV turnoff week, go to TV Turnoff Network.

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