"By wisdom a house is built, and by understanding it is established; and by knowledge
the rooms are filled with all precious and pleasant riches." ~Proverbs 24:3-4

Not Just For Kids

Dare to be Free...Don't Watch TV!

All across the country, children and their families will leave their television sets turned off for seven days during National TV Turnoff Week in April. Millions of people all over the world have participated in TV Turnoff Week since it began in 1995. Children and adults, rich and poor, people from every background and all walks of life take part through schools, churches, and community groups, as families or individuals.

These families will spend the week being together while they read, explore nature, enjoy neighborhood potlucks, make music, play sports and games, tell stories, and so much more. They will discover that life without TV can be rewarding, fun, and relaxing. Most families enjoy the peace, quiet, and increased family togetherness with more creative play time, time to talk, time to read, and less arguing. According to follow-up surveys, 90% of responding participants reduced their television viewing as a result of participating and are glad to have tried this experiment.

The National TV Turnoff event is sponsored by TV-Turnoff Network, a national non-profit, nonpartisan organization dedicated to encouraging children and adults to reduce the amount of television they watch in order to promote healthier and more connected lives, families and communities. TV Turnoff Week is supported by over 80 national organizations including the American Medical Association, American Academy of Pediatrics, Family Research Council, National Education Association, and President's Council on Physical Fitness and Sports.

How can you and your family participate? Find out if your local school, library, scout or church group has organized a community turnoff campaign. Visit www.tvturnoff.org for more information about this year's TV Turnoff, including "Six Easy Steps to a Great TV-Turnoff" and an Online Activity Book with 30 pages of fun activities for kids of all ages. If there is no TV Turnoff scheduled in your area, you can still show your support anyway. Talk with friends and neighbors, and especially your own family, about turning off the TV for a week - and turning on the creativity!

TV Facts

  • On average, children in the U.S. spend more time in front of the television (1,023 hours) than in school (900 hours).
  • Kids spend more time watching TV than they do studying.
  • Forty percent of Americans frequently or always watch television during dinner.
  • TV viewing causes obesity and is related to increased cardiovascular risk.
  • Kids who don't watch much TV tend to be happier than kids who watch a lot of TV.
  • Kids absorb and mimic televised violence.
  • Commercials promote unhealthy habits.
  • TV affects body image and lifestyle, and reinforces stereotyping.
  • Reducing TV time means that kids will ask for fewer toys.
  • Television programs - even supposedly educational shows like Sesame Street - develop "habits of mind" that put children at a disadvantage in school.
  • TV watching can actually restrict children's imaginative and cognitive abilities.
  • How to TV-Proof Your Home

  • Don't have more than one television set in the house.
  • Move the TV to a less prominent location where it won't be so tempting.
  • Hide the remote control.
  • Cancel your cable subscription.
  • Don't put TV's in bedrooms. (TV in the bedroom draws children away from family activities and distracts them from homework, thinking, reading, and sleeping. Plus, it's difficult for parents to monitor what the kids are watching.)
  • Keep the TV off during dinner so the family can have a conversation.
  • Place clear time limits on television viewing, such as restricting it to one hour a day.
  • Speak in positive terms. (Rather than saying, "You can't watch TV," say "Let's turn off the TV so we can…".)
  • Avoid using TV as a babysitter.
  • Involve children in household activities.
  • Designate certain days of the week (such as school nights) as TV-free days.
  • Don't use TV as a reward or punishment.
  • Don't fret if children claim "I'm bored!" since boredom often leads to creativity.
  • Don't let TV displace family conversations, exercise, play, reading, creating, thinking and doing.
  • TV-Free Activities

  • Read a book
  • Plant a garden
  • Go to the library or bookstore
  • Write a letter
  • Take a walk
  • Ride a bike
  • Play baseball or basketball
  • Organize and de-clutter your stuff
  • Listen to the radio
  • Read a newspaper
  • Start a journal or diary
  • Make a scrapbook or photo album
  • Cook a meal
  • Start a club
  • Play dress-up or a make-believe game
  • Play outdoor games like hopscotch, hide & seek, tag
  • Learn about the native animals and plants in your area
  • Play chess or a board game
  • Put together a jigsaw puzzle
  • Play a computer game
  • Study the stars
  • Tutor a child
  • Draw a picture
  • Play with your little brother or sister
  • Put on a magic show
  • Attend a play or sports event
  • Listen to music
  • Do yardwork or household repairs
  • Do a crossword puzzle or word search
  • Sit down for coffee or tea and conversation
  • Visit the zoo or a museum
  • Learn sign language
  • Create a new invention
  • Go on a hike
  • Go to the park or playground
  • Memorize a poem
  • Put on a play
  • Write a story
  • Ask a grandparent to tell you about life in the old days
  • Do community service or volunteer work
  • Bake cookies
  • Play a musical instrument
  • Sing songs
  • Do a science experiment
  • Go on a scavenger hunt
  • Re-decorate your room
  • Play a memory game
  • Play charades
  • Set up a lemonade stand
  • Make a cereal box city
  • Make paper airplanes
  • Make up a secret code
  • Have a spelling bee

    "I find television very educational. Every time somebody turns on the set, I go into the other room and read a book." -Groucho Marx

    "Television is a chewing gum for the eyes." -Frank Lloyd Wright

    "Television is no substitute for a parent. It doesn't help develop language skills; it's simply background noise." -First Lady Laura Bush

    "Given our national television habit, it is no surprise that we are raising the most sedentary and most overweight generation of youngsters in American history. As they grow, these children will run increased risks of heart disease, diabetes, and other health problems -- unless they turn off the tube and become physically active." -US Surgeon General David Satcher


    365 TV-FREE ACTIVITIES YOU CAN DO WITH YOUR CHILD, by Steve and Ruth Bennett, 1996. (430 pages, all ages). Enjoy a year's worth of indoor and outdoor TV-free activities with your child. This book is a wonderful resource for busy families looking to spend some quality time together. It contains lots of fun activities that are quick and easy to do using simple things found around the house. Topics include: Arts & Crafts, Creativity, Memory, Recycled Household Materials, Group Play, Fantasy Play, Older Kids Play, Math & Numbers, Food Stuff, and more.

    BETTER THAN TV, by Sara Swan Miller, 1998 (Ages 5-8). When a power failure deprives them of television on a rainy day, two children and their dog entertain themselves by creating and acting out their own television show. Soon the whole family is enjoying a better-than-TV day!

    TELEVISION: WHAT'S BEHIND WHAT YOU SEE, by W. Carter Merbreier with Linda Capus Riley, 1996 (All ages). An entertaining look at how televisions work, the TV business, how programmers plan the day, how shows are filmed, and what happens behind the scenes.

    ENDANGERED MINDS: WHY CHILDREN DON"T THINK AND WHAT WE CAN DO ABOUT IT, by Jane M. Healy, Ph.D., 1990. The author examines how television, video games, and other media compromise our children's ability to concentrate and to absorb and analyze information. She clearly conveys the relationship between language, learning, and brain development, then explains why television viewing and a fast-paced media culture sabotages language acquisition, thinking, and educational success. This book explains why increasing numbers of children are being diagnosed with attention deficit disorder, why children today are less able to think than the generations that preceded them, and tells how parents and teachers can make a critical difference by making children good learners from the day they are born.

    THE PLUG-IN DRUG: TELEVISION, CHILDREN, AND THE FAMILY, by Marie Winn, 1985. This is the classic book on how television affects our children and families. Although this book was originally written almost two decades ago, the author had a great perception early on about how harmful television would be to children and their families.

    THE PLUG-IN DRUG : TELEVISION, COMPUTERS, AND FAMILY LIFE, by Marie Winn, 2002. Winn's classic study has been extensively updated to address the current media landscape, with new sections on computers, video games, the VCR, the V-Chip and other control devices, TV programming for babies, television and physical health, and gaining control of your TV.


    www.tvturnoff.org (TV Turnoff Network's Official Site.)

    www.limitv.org (Excellent site on child development and television.)

    www.turnoffyourtv.com (Kill Your Television Home Page.)

    www.growsmartbrains.com (Information on raising children optimally in a media age.)

    www.kidsource.com/kidsource/content/TV.viewing.html (What Parents Need to Know About Children's Television Viewing, from the U.S. Dept. of Education.)

    www.aap.org/family/tv1.htm (Television and the Family.)

    www.aap.org/family/smarttv.htm (Smart Parent's Guide to Kids' TV.)

    www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/teach/tvkillguide.html (Teacher's Guide: Does TV Kill?)

    www.onemillionmoms.com (Moms can let the entertainment industry know they are upset with the messages being sent to our children and the values -or lack of them - that they are pushing.)

    www.onemilliondads.com (Their goal is to stop the exploitation of children by the entertainment media - TV, music, movies, etc.)

    www.onemillionyouth.com (Fed up with the trash on television? Want to do something about it? Here's your chance!)

    www.afa.net (An organization devoted to the preservation of traditional family values, focusing primarily on the influence of television and other media.)


    These pages are a continuous work in progress.
    Copyright © 2000- by Teri Ann Berg Olsen
    All rights reserved.

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