Thursday, March 6, 2008

TV Fast Results

So our TV fast is over. We started in Feb. and said we'd keep it for the entire month. And we did it.
Our son was great thru the entire fast. Sure he was allowed to watch movies and play video games, but incredibly those things decreased instead of increased!!!! Truly amazing.
I don't know that we saved any electricity by abstaining from TV. Our goal was to help make our son more aware of how commercialized what he watches is and see if it would effect his behavior. Mostly it was because of how many commercials he would see during a single show. He constantly asks for things just because he say it on TV. Its estimated that "Nearly 16 minutes of advertising is found in an average hour of prime time television"

His behavior was a bit better. Nothing major and I doubt I would have seen much unless we did it a lot longer, but it did help. He was more interested in playing with his toys. After all, What choice did he have? He went outside more even though it was cold out and he was more interested in just doing whatever he could find around the house.
For me, I don't watch a lot of TV much anymore anyway. Since I worked nights last year for a year, that pretty much broke my TV habit quick.
All in all, I'd do it again. Our son is less likely to argue about having him turn the TV off and he's more interested in watching movies these days. I hope this sticks! I believe it will and I think in the long run we'll watch TV less and less.

Don't forget that National Turn off your TV week is in April from the 21st-27th. This might be a great opportunity to teach your kids that TV isn't something they NEED!!

Here are some Facts about American TV habits courtesy of Girl Power:

*The average American watches over 4 hours of TV a day, and this averages out to about 2 months per year!
*Forty percent of Americans watch TV while eating dinner.
*The average time per week that the average American child aged 2-17 spends watching television is 19 hours and 40 minutes.
*The time per week that parents spend in meaningful conversation with their children is about 38.5 minutes.
*Children see an average of 200,000 violent acts on TV by the time they turn 18.
*Seventy-three percent of Americans believe that TV and movies are largely responsible for juvenile crime.
*Twenty-five percent of teenagers know that the U.S. Constitution was written in Philadelphia, and 75 percent of teenagers know the Zip code 90210 is Beverly Hills, CA.
*Five percent of children were seriously overweight in 1964 versus 13 percent who were seriously overweight in 1994.
*Fifty-nine percent of Americans can name all of the Three Stooges, and only 17 percent of Americans can name three Supreme Court Justices. (although I can't name any Supreme Court Justices either...sadly!)

Why should you care about how much TV your kids watches? Well consider these facts about kids and TV habits...

*28% of children's television shows contain four or more acts of violence (Woodward, 1999).

*A more recent study found that children who watch more than three hours of television a day are 50 per cent more likely to be obese than kids who watch fewer than two hours. These researchers conclude that "more than 60% of overweight incidents can be linked to excess TV viewing" (Tremblay, 2003).

*Children who watch a lot of television are likely to:
Have lower grades in school
Read fewer books
Exercise less
Be overweight

*Witnessing repeated violent acts can lead to desensitization and a lack of empathy for human suffering

*By age 18, a U.S. youth will have seen 16,000 simulated murders and 200,000 acts of violence. - American Psychiatric Association

*Children younger than 8 "cannot uniformly discriminate between real life and fantasy/entertainment… They quickly learn that violence is an acceptable solution to resolving even complex problems, particularly if the aggressor is the hero." - ibid

*Research has shown that "mindless" television or video games may idle and impoverish the development of the pre-frontal cortex, or that portion of the brain that is responsible for planning, organizing and sequencing behavior for self-control, moral judgment and attention. - American Academy of Pediatrics - Understanding TV's effects on the developing brain, Jane M. Healy, Ph.D. (From May 1998 AAP News)

*An average of one food commercial is shown every five minutes during Saturday morning cartoons. Kotz, K. & Story, M. (1994)

*Advertisers spent more than $10 billion targeting children and youth though TV ads, coupons, contests, public relations promotions and packaging designed for children. Institute of Medicine. (2004)
Can you imagine if they took that 10 BILLION dollars to maybe fund something else? Like, oh I don't know CHILD HUNGER!!!???!!! It blows your mind doesn't it?! Blows mine. All this researching about TV has made me more passionate about limiting Noah's TV watching not just to be some crazy mom who thinks any commercial is going to effect my son; but to just be aware of what he is viewing and not just assume that because its on TV that its healthy or safe. I don't' want my son to be desensitised to human suffering! I want him to want to DO something about it. I want it to inspire him or in the very least help him to CARE.

On another note if you'd like to read about a mom who did not allow her son to watch TV from birth I highly recommend reading "The Big Turn off" by Ellen Currey-Wilson. She herself was a TV addict and then decided to not allow her son from birth watch TV and her adventures with that. It was funny and really made you think. Of course her son ended up being a genius but anyway. (BTW there are some ummm suggestive parts in the book that some of you might find offensive like the "offer" from her neighbor. don't say I didn't warn you)

Not trying to scare anyone with these statistics or facts, just want to educate. Obviously we are watching TV still to this day and will most likely continue to do so; however I feel empowered knowing that working for a better life for my son is the best thing I can give him. Even though he'll feel so deprived w/out TV I'm sure! :)

1 comment:

Alison Wiley said...

Hi Marcie,
Thanks for this good post -- now I've marked when turn-off-your-tv week is in my calendar so that I can blog about it at that time.

And thanks for the comment/link you posted on hybrids the other day. I like being on each others' blogrolls (you know that you're on mine now, too).

Alison Wiley