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Time to Turn Off Those TV's!

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 How often do you come home from a hard day, only to plop on the couch and "relax" in front of the TV? If you find it hard to escape the sights and sounds of the tube, or if watching your favorite show turns into more wasted hours than you planned, you're not alone. Americans watch TV for an average of 4 hours every day; even when we're not watching, the television is on--for almost 8 hours a day in the average home. Have you ever realized how much TV has become a part of our lives? Here are some more startling facts, from the non-profit organization, TV-Turnoff Network

40% of Americans always or often watch TV while eating dinner.
  • Eating dinner or snacking in front of the TV is linked to overeating and dissatisfaction. When you're distracted, you're not mindful of the meal you are eating, causing you to eat more without realizing it or really enjoying your food. Turn off the TV (and other distractions like the computer or the phone), and you'll savor that portion-controlled meal.
50% of US households have 3 or more TVs.
  • When you have more TVs, chances are, more of your family members are watching- instead of spending quality time together, doing homework, and being active.
By age 65, the average American has seen 2 million TV commercials.
  • Many of the commercials we see show appetizing foods-fast food, junk food, soda, alcohol, sugary cereals, and candy. Think "out of sight, out of mind."
The average American youth spends about 900 hours per year in school, and over 1,000 hours per year watching TV.
  • While you can't place all the blame on TV, soaring rates of childhood obesity are a result of both poor nutrition and an inactive lifestyle. Limit the amount of time your kids (and yourself, leading by example) watch TV and encourage more physical activity like walking the dog, helping with yard work, playing sports, or other active hobbies.
  • In a 2008 Canadian study, researchers from the University of Toronto found that kids who watched TV while eating lunch consumed 228 extra calories than those who ate without the television on. Harvey Anderson of the Canadian Institutes for Health Research (the organization that funded the study) believes that watching TV leads to mindless eating. By focusing on TV instead of a meal, kids (and adults) are less likely to notice feelings of fullness.
TV-Turnoff Week
Consider turning off that TV permanently--OK, well maybe for just a week. April 19 through April 25 is the official "TV-Turnoff Week," an exciting opportunity for adults and children to experience life without television. For seven days, people around the world will turn off their TVs and find something better to do. But no matter what  time of year it is now, there are plenty of reasons to cut down on your TV time.

Think it would impossible to turn off your TV for an entire week? Imagine how much more free time you would have if you didn't spend time watching TV! There are lots of fun (and healthy) things you could do with your newfound time. Here are some examples:
  • Get active! Think you don't have time to exercise? Here?s your opportunity!
  • Make it a family event! Take the kids out for a walk, ride bikes, learn a new sport, go canoeing, etc.
  • Read a book or magazine
  • Go to bed earlier and get your recommended 7-8 hours of sleep
  • Start that new hobby you've been wanting to try
  • Cook dinner for your family and enjoy it together at the table
  • Volunteer at your local church or community center
  • Start a vegetable garden or plant flowers
  • Take a class- drawing, woodworking, sewing- whatever interests you
  • Take a trip to the grocery store. Without the usual rush, take the time to compare labels, find new foods, and stock up on fresh fruits, veggies and healthy snacks.
  • Write a letter to someone you haven't seen in awhile
  • Spend more time with your pet! Go for a walk or play a game of Frisbee.
  • Prepare healthy bag lunches for the family.
The possibilities are endless! Do you think you could give it a try, just for one week? According to a follow-up survey, 80% of TV-Turnoff participants said they altered their viewing habits and now watch less TV. You'll be amazed how a little less TV can have a big impact on you and your family. 

For more information on TV-Turnoff Week, visit: www.tvturnoff.org

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Member Comments

  • I very seldom watch TV but I certainly waste an awful lot of time on social media - and I include Spark People in that category. Maybe we should unplug home computers and spend the time exercising instead of blogging and we'd all be healthier!
  • YMWONG22
    I have not switch on a TV for years. I'm on the internet more now. Reading articles and other stuff online.
  • Don't just be TV free. Unplug. It's only been 15 years since we started to plug in constantly and now FOMO dominates the scene. Leave social media, mobile apps (this is one too), and don't constantly check your phone ... it can be as paralyzing as the TV. It's nice to be connected when you need it but FOMO (Fear of Missing Out) is epidemic.
  • REGINALDTATE
    Spending time with family is the real precious thing.
  • I rarely watch TV and am asking myself why I bother to pay for the monthly cable which isn't cheap. With the advent of the PVR/DVR I haven't seen a commercial in years. Use the computer but in moderation. Continue to read read read (which also is not very active) and don't want to give that up.
  • ok confession time.. I use TV more like a radio meaning I am always doing stuff while the tv is running.. I would like to turn it off for good..wish there was a Spark Group about this
  • My tv is off more than it is on. My grandchildren turn it on when they come to visit. It has been off for several days since my grandson was here, and won't likely come back on until my granddaughter visits this weekend. I am guilty of spending too much time on my computer, but if I turn it off I won't be able to visit sparkpeople, pay my bills, or do necessary work. I know I am often on it much longer than necessary, but I would not be able to turn it off for any length of time because there are things I must do online on a regular basis.
  • When the TV is off, the whole family is usually sucked into smart phones, laptops, or tablets. At least if we're watching TV we actually talk to each other. Small screen times end up being silent in the house.

    It's easy to say not to allow any screens, but the kids' homework (and schoolwork) is done on laptops/tablets/i
    nternet - they don't even have text books anymore. So there's a balance between letting the family be tech-savvy in today's world and completely unplugging.
  • It looks like the new website for TV Turn-Off Week is http://www.screen
    free.org/ and this year, the week chosen is May 2-8.
  • Tossed out the TV some 30 years ago . . . haven't missed it a bit.

    So much more of life to experience . . . who needs a laugh track and a bunch of talking heads telling ya what to think?!

    Get outside and live today!
  • HAIRYPRARIE
    We aren't great TV watchers, but I've noticed we've all switched to smaller screens instead. Phones, tablets and laptops. Crazy. Thanks for this reminder to get up and do something else instead.
  • TV for the most part is off for me, its a giant ad or reality TV junk I have no interest in!
  • I'm more of a computer junkie! The TV is only on for about an hour a day but the PC is on constantly! I need to change that!
  • I did this 12 years ago and haven't turned on the TV since except to catch some breaking news. I need to adapt this for the computer though.
  • My problem is more the computer than the TV. I do watch some TV, but I am in front of the computer almost constantly. It's so bad, I don't know what I would do without it... and not just at work, but even on my own time!

About The Author

Jen Mueller Jen Mueller
Jen received her master's degree in health promotion and education from the University of Cincinnati. A mom and avid marathon runner, she is an ACE-certified personal trainer, health coach, medical exercise specialist and behavior change specialist. See all of Jen's articles.

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