Monday, April 13, 2009

National TV Turnoff Week

April 20-26th is National TV-Turnoff Week. The general purpose of the week is to revisit how time is spent in your family household and to turn "on" your life instead of spending so much time in front of the television every night & weekend. All you have to do is "turn off and unplug" your's that simple.

In doing some research to see what this week was about, I was initially thinking that "does my family really need to do this" and after reading the statistics, I'm now more interested in participating. Here's what I learned:
  • Number of 30-second commercials seen in a year by an average child: 20,000
  • Number of minutes per week that parents spend in meaningful conversation with their children: 38.5
  • Number of minutes per week that the average child watches television: 1,680 (28 hours)
  • Percentage of children ages 6-17 who have TV's in their bedrooms: 50%
  • Percentage of day care centers that use TV during a typical day: 70%
  • Hours per year the average American youth spends in school: 900 hours
  • Hours per year the average American youth watches television: 1500 hours
  • Percentage of Americans that regularly watch television while eating dinner: 66%
I was astounded as to these statistics! 28 hours of television per week! I was thinking no way do my children watch 28 hours each week! But, if you think about it, and I know I'm guilty, how many of us have the television on as "background" noise as we cook, clean, do homework, etc.? Without even thinking it, our children are unconsciously exposed to this each day and night. A good idea is to track the amount of time the television is on for a week, to see how much time the TV is actually on, whether it's being watched or not.

Before participating in the week, get the kids involved too instead of just announcing that this is what the family will be doing. Involve them in conversation and ask them what their favorite shows are and if they could live without them for a week. Ask them about activities they would like to do instead of watching TV and write these down so that they you can do them and they feel as though they are part of this process!

Simple ideas to fill in the time:
  • Have story-time each night
  • Take a walk
  • Go to the park
  • Have a carpet picnic
  • Make a craft with the kids
  • Cook or bake, having the kids help
  • Visit a relative you haven't seen in awhile
  • Go to the Zoo or a Museum
If you and your family would like to participate and need some activity ideas, you can go to: or simply google "TV turnoff week" and you will find a slew of websites giving information and activity ideas. Barnes and Noble will be having activities in selected states and with the existing spring temperatures, simply getting outside and taking a walk as a family provides both bonding time as well as exercise.

If you decide that you think you just can't live without a TV for a week, a suggestion would be to maybe make a list of those shows that your family just can't live without and watch only those shows, turning the TV off after it's over with no switching back and forth to other channels.

Goodluck! Come back and comment with your thoughts and if you did participate, how the week went for you and your family!

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