Are you guilty of spending more time watching TV than talking to your family? If most of us kept track of our daily activities we would probably find that this is unfortunately true. A number of organizations have begun promoting a TV or Screen Free Week over the last 10 to 15 years, with many of them holding activities in 2012 during April 30 to May 6. So why is cutting back on TV or screen time important?
- There are many studies which show that we spend on average 4 to 5 hours per day watching TV, but only 35 minutes per day having a meaningful conversation with our family members.
- Unfortunately American TV also is increasingly violent, which may promote violent or mean children.
- Too much TV viewing has been shown to result in poor student grades, because they problem solving skills and creativity levels decrease and children who watch more TV usually read less.
- Research studies also support that children who watch more TV are more often overweight. Causes may be because they are less active, or because they watch more commercials for sugar sweetened or high calories snacks and drinks.
- Many homes also have multiple televisions or other screens that pull families apart and encourage lack of family time and conversation.
Once you have decided to do a TV or screen free day or week you may need to plan ahead with a list of possible activities if you usually spend your evening in front of a screen. Why not try a few of the following:
- Let family members pick a different game to play together each night. You will probably have to use your brain for a few math problems in the process.
- Explore nature, plant a garden, work in your yard, play with your pets, or visit a park.
- Work on a craft or scrapbook page together. It is a perfect time for starting a Mother’s Day gift from the heart.
- Read a book (by yourself or together as a family is even better), go to the library, or write a letter to someone you haven’t seen in a while. Everyone loves to get mail!
- Clean out your garage or closets and have a yard sale or donate the items to a charity.
- Go bowling, take a picnic, or ride bikes.
- Spend time cooking a real family meal together, with everyone involved in the preparation and clean-up.
- Organize a TV or Screen free fun night for your neighborhood, friends, church group, or youth club.
If you don’t think you can go the whole week without watching television, why not try to reduce your TV time by taking a few TV free nights or setting a limit of 1 hour of TV viewing? You will probably get more done and have more meaningful conversations with your family members or friends.
University of Michigan Health System, Television and Children, http://www.med.umich.edu/yourchild/topics/tv.htm.
Campaign for Commercial Free Childhood, http://www.commercialfreechildhood.org/.
LimiTV: Promoting Growth and Achievement, http://www.limitv.org/.
Written by: Lisa Barlage, Extension Educator, Family & Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension.