In 1999 the Senate Committee on the Judiciary published its report on "Children, Violence, and the Media." It had reviewed more than 1,000 studies on the effects of television and film violence conducted since 1960, and found that the majority had reached the same conclusion: TV and film violence leads to real-world violence.
How wonderful it is, then, that this week has been TV-Turnoff Week. The idea started in 1995 by the Center for Screen-Time Awareness in order to “raise awareness about the harmful effects of excessive television-watching, and encourage Americans to replace TV time with activities that lead to more literate, productive lives and engaged citizenship.” The Center estimates that since ’95 more than 30 million people have taken part, with 20 million more taking part this year.
"American children and adolescents spend 22 to 28 hours per week viewing television, more than any other activity except sleeping. By the age of 70 they will have spent 7 to 10 years of their lives watching TV." -- The Kaiser Family Foundation
What a perfect time it is for parents, schools, religious organizations, and anyone wanting our focus on violence to be diminished, to promote alternative activities not just for children but for everyone. Here’s an exciting and helpful list of ideas from the TV-Turnoff Week group to help us say goodbye to violence and hello to activities we can fully enjoy:
Volunteer in a school to teach reading, math, computer skills. Learn to play the guitar or another musical instrument. Attend community concerts. Organize a community clean-up. Put together a puzzle. Attend library activities. Borrow a book. Go ice skating or roller skating. Paint a picture, a mural or a room. Attend a high school sporting event. Find out about your area's community center or park's activities. Go swimming. Join a community swim team. Read a book aloud to your younger sister/brother. Plan a picnic or barbecue. Go bird watching. Volunteer for a community organization or charity. Play with your pet. Go dancing. Write a letter to a friend or relative. Cook. Plant a flower, vegetable or herb garden. Read magazines or newspapers. Plan a slumber party. Start a neighborhood basketball, soccer, or kickball game. Go camping (even if it's just in the backyard!). Join a singing group. Go through your closets and clothes and donate surplus items to Goodwill, the Salvation Army or a local rummage sale. Start a diary/journal. Go to a museum. Take a nature hike. Collect seeds and leaves, then make a collage with the materials you collected and give it to someone. Play cards. Start a community exercise group that power walks, runs, or bikes. Read a story to a family member. Get out the family photo album. Research your family history. Go listen to a local band. Make crafts to give as gifts. Make up a story and write it down. Learn to say simple phrases in a few different languages. Ask a family member to tell you a story about his or her childhood. Write about it. Learn some new riddles or jokes. Bake two batches of cookies, one for your family and one for a neighbor. Watch the night sky through binoculars; identify the different constellations. Observe the moon. Visit a local bookstore. Walk to work or school. Start a kids bowling league. Train for a 5K race. Teach a neighbor about a computer program. Go fishing. Begin a family project. Have a party to celebrate a TV-free week!
(Photo: Baltimore, Maryland)