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TV Statistics Depress Me…

For those of you lucky enough to get to through the NYT Week in Review thNoTVis week (mine typically sits on the nightstand until I recycle it 3 days later), you may have picked up this incredibly depressing gem:

The average amount of time spent watching TV is
4 hours and 43 minutes per day.

Just re-read that sentence again, didntcha?

Not surprising, as I read the article 3 times trying to understand what part of the statistic I had missed or did not understand. My mind couldn’t get around it.

Confession: my kids have just come off a ‘big television’ weekend–so I assure you that I am not holier than thou on the topic. This weekend, they watched movies with their friends as the parents ate dinner in relative merriment and with an ice cold margarita. Both nights.

But even then, it still put the grand total at about 200 minutes of programming. Scary to think that what they watched all weekend is only 70% OF WHAT SOME SEVEN YEAR OLDS WATCH EVERY DAY.

And that, my friends, is sad.

The happiest, most peaceful days in my house are library days, when my kids dig through a sack of 40+ paperbacks, gangly legs flipped over the armchair, no one responding to what they want for dinner. They are immersed, absorbed and independent. It is blissful.

I wish I had some pithy market research that talks about how reading improves kids’ critical thinking, enlarges their sense of imagination, gives them a way to downshift and recharge. I don’t have all those numbers–but god, my intuition just tells me that data is out there. (Please please share it if you have it.)

I’ll steal a phrase that I have heard recently and adapt it for my own use:
If you want your kids to read….you go first.

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5 Comments Post a comment
  1. Amen sister.

    November 16, 2009
  2. Millicent #

    Ditto. My 5-yr old LOVES TV/movies, but we limit it to 1-2 hours/weekend morning and/or babysitter situations. It’s a slipperly slope, and we probably don’t set a good enough example of reading during the waking hours. We only read after the kids have gone down for bed, when all is quiet. A good reminder to “go first!”

    November 17, 2009
  3. katykeim #

    I know it’s difficult. If our kids saw us read a fraction of the time they saw us on our BlackBerry, iPhone, Computer–they likely would be insane readers. And let’s face it, sometimes a 30 minute program is a good alternative to completely losing your noodle!!

    November 17, 2009
  4. John #

    Don’t have the stats on how reading is good for you, but here’s another great one on TV from the WSJ:

    “Watching TV Kills You

    Scientists have proved your mom right again: A recent study shows you should probably turn off the TV and go outside, as researchers found that people with a four-hour-a-day television habit were 46 percent more likely to die of any disease, and 80 percent more likely to die of cardiovascular disease. “

    January 23, 2010
  5. katykeim #

    Another subscriber sent this note separately….

    Get “The Read-Aloud Handbook” by Jim Trelease. The latest edition, 2006, is even a little better. It documents the academic improvement of children who have been read to and exposed to books from an early age versus those children dependent upon TV. Plus, it lists and rates long lists of childrens books.

    January 25, 2010

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