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Television Viewing


Did you know that the average American child has spent more time watching television than taking part in any other single "activity" except sleep?

Most psychologists and educators feel television watching can prevent children from taking part in activities that foster academic achievement at school. Watching TV often has the power to preempt certain positive behaviors, such as talking with others, reading for pleasure, drawing, painting, exercising, participating in school activities, and completing homework assignments--all of which contribute to a child’s personal growth and the development of a positive self-concept.

A current poll of a California schools’ elementary and secondary students found 56% had television sets in their bedrooms. 65% of "A" students DID NOT have TV sets in their bedrooms; 57% of "B" students; 51% of "C" students; and 45% of "D" students DID NOT have television sets in their bedroom. In other words, the lower the grade-point average, the more often the child had a television set in his, or her, bedroom.

The National Association of Elementary School Principals offers the following suggestions for parents concerning television watching:

1. Set an example. Don’t leave the TV on all the time as "background noise". Don’t watch "adult" programs when children are present.
2. Do not use TV as a babysitter. Keep interesting items handy as alternatives--jigsaw puzzles, board games, crayons, pencils, paper, books, and magazines.
3. Teach your child to plan a daily after-school schedule in which TV fills only a small block of time--or maybe none!
4. Reduce TV time with other activities such as reading, exercise, hobbies, crafts, playing games, and helping with household tasks.

Surprising Television Statistics:

  • Number of hours per day the TV is on in the average U.S. home: 6 hours; 47 minutes
  • Number of minutes per week the average child watches television: 1,680 minutes
  • Number of violent acts children see on TV by the age of 18: 200,000
  • Number of murders seen on TV by the time an average child finishes elementary school: 8,000
  • Number of 30-second commercials seen in a year by an average child: 20,000
  • Percentage of parents who would like to limit their child's TV watching: 73%
  • Chance that an American parent requires that children do their homework before watching TV:1 in 2
  • Number of minutes per week parents spend in meaningful conversation with their children: 38.5
  • Percentage of 4-6 year old, who, when asked to choose between watching TV and spending time with their fathers, preferred television: 54%

(Compiled by TV-Free America; 1611 Connecticut Avenue, NW, Washington, D.C. 20009)