TV's effects on your family: Lessons from the Easter Egg Hunt
It was the big Easter Egg Hunt. My friend Christy and I lined up with the other kids. We all gazed greedily at the field of goodies before us. "GO!" yelled the announcer. En masse we rushed forwards. For some reason, everyone veered to the left. I stopped. I glanced at the untouched feast to my right. I ran right, gleefully scooping the candy before the rest caught on. At the end, I had a bagful of candy. Christy, who had followed the herd, had one piece. I was eight at the time, but I never forgot that day or its lessons.
What did I do differently from the other kids that day? I simply stopped. I stopped, looked around, and analyzed the situation. And I left the herd. I saw quickly that it was to my advantage NOT to follow the herd that day.
Leaving the TV herd
In 2003 I left the herd again in a much bigger way. I got rid of my TV. I am one of those rare few that do not have a TV, by choice. And I am reaping the benefits of being TV-free.
The reason? In 2001, the kids and I were without TV for several months. Like I did when I was little, I stopped. This time I took notice of the changes in my children and myself during the time we did not have a TV. Then when we got it back, I took notice of the changes again. Based on my observations, I decided we were better off without a TV.
Stop and observe YOUR family
But it does not matter what TV does to me or my kids. It does not matter that numerous studies show TV's links to obesity, illiteracy, consumerism, etc. The real question is: How does TV affect you and your family? Find out by stopping and observing.
Stop and observe how your body and mind react to TV. Look deeply into your kids zombie-like eyes as they watch TV. Compare that to the look in their eyes as they play outdoors. How do you and your spouse look when watching TV? Take pictures if necessary.
Take note of how your children behave after they have spent the afternoon in front of the TV set. How do they behave after playing with their friends? How well do you behave after watching several hours of TV? Your spouse? You may need to get an outside opinion for accuracy.
Consumers 'R Us
How do your children behave at the store when confronted with the cool blue gizmo that has been advertised for months on TV commercials? Are they whining and begging and nagging incessantly for that gizmo? How much extra money do you spend chasing the latest fads and fashions, as shown on TV?
Observe how much you really remember of that educational program you just saw. How well do you remember the last book you read in comparison? Test yourself. Stop and consider how you feel after watching several hours of television. Do you feel alert, happy, and energetic? Or do you feel lethargic and depressed and ready to turn the TV back on? Keep a diary to get an accurate assessment.
Most importantly, monitor the number of hours you and your family spend in front of the TV per week. Is it 20?...30?...40? The average American spends 28 hours per week in front of a TV set. How much do you watch? Now ask yourself: Is this how you really want to spend your time? Is this how you want your kids to spend their time? By age eighteen the average American will have spent three full years in front of the TV? By age seventy the total is 11.67 years.
Stop and think if this is what you really want out of life. I did, and I got rid of my TV.
About the Author
Katherine Westphal is the founder of a daring new website TrashYourTV.com, that makes it fun and easy for people to get control of their TV set. Are you addicted to TV? Take our TV Addiction Quiz (http://www.trashyourtv.com/survey) and find out!