National TV-Turnoff Week

 
        Why do kids say so many insulting things to each other?

        Why do they show less respect to adults than you did when you were a child?

        Why do they laugh when somebody slips or drops something?

        Why are instances of violence increasing among children?

        The answers to these questions may lie in an object you probably have in your home: a television set. The role models for these and other undesirable behaviors are all over the tube, and many of us can trace the negative actions to it.

        This, however, is only part of the motivation for participating in the seventh annual National TV-Turnoff Week, held this year from the 23rd to the 29th of April.

        Families who have participated in previous TV-Turnoff Weeks, or who live in one of the approximately two percent of American homes without television, report that there are many benefits to curtailing television viewing by their children:

        children help with cooking and other chores around the house;

        children read more;

        family members spend more time talking to each other;

        children exercise more;

        families devote more time to community activities such as volunteering;

        childrenís school grades improve.

        For me, though, the greatest difference is that between being passive and being active. Watching television is a passive activity. People participate in their own lives more fully when they are active rather than passive.

        Look at the fascination that many people have with the "stars" of television shows. Passive people live their lives through the activities of famous actors. The fans know what their "stars" eat for breakfast, how much weight they have gained or lost, who designs their clothing, to whom they are married, and the names of their children.

Viewers have made television actors the "stars" of their lives, instead of actively finding ways to star in their own lives.

The greatest benefit of life without television, then, whether it is for one week or a more extended period of time, is that people shift from being passive to being active. And that can only be a benefit, to children and adults alike.

  
This column has been incorporated and expanded in Teach Your Children Well: A Teacherís  Advice for Parents.

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