TV Turnoff week

Editorial: Turning off TV can have benefits

Chico Enterprise-Record

04/24/2007

As many as 10 million people nationwide are participating in a worthwhile event this week. It's known as TV Turnoff Week.

Schools nationwide are encouraging students to abstain from television, a wonderful public service. After all, television isn't called "the idiot box" without good reason.

Still, schools can't accomplish the worthy goal by themselves. Parents need to participate and set an example.

The organizers of TV Turnoff Week, which started Monday and runs through Sunday, said the average American home has three televisions that are on more than eight hours every day. The average American watches more than 4 1/2 hours of television every day.

Some schools locally have seemed to lose their enthusiasm for TV Turnoff Week, which is a shame. Television has a detrimental effect on schoolchildren. Ideally, students should be studying at night and going to bed early so they are fresh for the next day at school. Too often, that isn't happening, even though studies show that students who watch less TV get better grades.

Not only that, but at a time when childhood obesity is at an all-time high, there's little doubt it's related to the fact that the time spent watching television is higher than ever.

Though schools seem less inclined to encourage students to take part, First 5, the Butte County Children and Families Commission, has been running public service announcements to try to raise awareness among parents.

Among the many suggestions to help pass the time without TV: Read more, go on walks, play family games, take a bike ride together, visit a museum or historical site, see a play, check out the Thursday Night Market in downtown Chico or Gold Nugget Days in Paradise this weekend, and visit the Butte County Library.

First 5 recommends long-term solutions. Instead of just curtailing TV watching for a week, the coalition offers tips on how to reduce TV use year-round. Among the ideas: Always keep the TV off during meals, do not use television as a reward, and designate certain days of the week or hours of the day as a TV blackout period.

The best advice, though, is to ignore the inevitable complaints of children saying "I'm bored." As First 5 notes, "Boredom passes and often leads to creativity."

So try turning off the television this week. You might be surprised what gets accomplished.