101 Changes: Change 7: Watch Less Television

I am writing a series of 101 small changes that we can make to make the quality of our life better and build and lead a more happier life that is in tune with our heart and mind. These are small changes that I have made and am working on right now, so I know they are possible for anyone to do.

If you have not read previous posts, check out a few posts on the changes from the past:

101 changes: Change 4 – Plant something
101 changes: Change 5 – Smile when you wake up
101 changes: Change 6:: Read a book – Benefits of reading
____________________________________________________________________________________________

“I wasn’t worried about freedom. I was worried about people being turned into morons by TV.”
– Ray Bradbury in 2001 talking about his book Fahrenheit 451

According to Reuters (September 22, 2006)The total average time per household in 2005-06 was eight hours and 14 minutes per day. I am sure that has increased much more in year 2010. We as a nation watch a lot of Television and that is nothing to be proud of.

Once upon a time Zenguy and I not only used to watch Prime time TV but also had cable in addition to Indian ethnic channels as well. Whatever we could not see, we used to record it to watch it later. We used to come home after work and crash in front of TV to eat dinner and watch late night show with Jay Leno or David Letterman.

We have cut down on TV watching to almost none. We occasionally watch PBS shows for kids and some times a rare selected programs for adults on PBS such as cooking show, documentary or master piece theater program or occasional DVD movie watching (without ads). Many people says that TV has a many benefits including educational and entertainment value. But, let us look at a few benefits of not watching TV.

Instead of watching TV for 4 hours, you can do following;

  1. You can start a blog or part time business
  2. Play with friends, children
  3. Have a date with your significant other
  4. Learn to play piano
  5. Read your favorite novel
  6. Cook delicious meal for loved ones
  7. Exercise, get in shape
  8. Clean up clutter, organize
  9. Spend quality time with your family and friends
  10. Catch up on sleep, nap
  11. Relax, enjoy
  12. Go out in nature, enjoy sunset, sunrise etc.
  13. Garden and grow veggies, fruits, and flowers
  14. Paint and create a master piece artwork
  15. Learn new skills

TV watching and internet are two of time wasters in our modern lives. We have fast food, fast cars, fast services only to use up that time for watching Idiot box called Television.

Here are some of the quotes by famous people about influence of TV and Media on us.

“Do you know we are ruled by TV?”
– from the poem An American Prayer by Jim Morrison

“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

“You watch television to turn your brain off and you work on your computer when you want to turn your brain on.”
– Steve Jobs, co-founder of Apple Computer and Pixar, in Macworld Magazine, February 2004

According toTurn off your TV Website , The CDC notes that “one-fourth of children in America spend four hours or more watching television daily and only 27 percent of students in grades 9 through 12 engage in moderate physical activity at least 30 minutes a day on five or more days of the week.”

According to the CDC, lifestyle behaviors is one of the major factors contributing to obesity in children and adults. Genetics does play a role, however, many health risks have been proved to significantly diminish when physical activity increases and diet improves. One major suggestion by health officials is a reduction in “screen time.” The VERB campaign promotes a decrease in time spent in a sedentary-TV-watching position and replace it with positive physical and pro social activities.

“The average tween spends four and a half hours each day in front of a screen. This includes watching television, video-tapes or DVDs, playing video games, using a computer or browsing the Internet. Television is the medium with which children spend the most time — two and a half hours each day.

* 26 percent of U.S. children watch four or more hours of television per day.
* 67 percent of U.S. children watch two or more hours per day.
* Almost half (48 percent) of all families with tweens have all four of the latest media staples: TV, VCR, video game equipment and a computer.
* The bedroom of the 21st century child is a multimedia environment. Of children 9 – 13 years old, more than half (57 percent) have a TV in the bedroom; 39 percent have video game equipment; 30 percent have a VCR; 20 percent a computer and 11 percent Internet access.” (VERB Fact Sheet)

As we can TV can be entertaining but if you watch too much, it is not good for children or adults alike. If you can not kill off your Television completely, at least watch less or selected shows without violence or advertisements. Watching selected shows fromPBS , or watching selected DVDs of movies and shows will fill the need for entertainment for many.

That is way, many of us can get benefits of educational and entertainment without the disadvantages of too much Television or Media viewing.

Check out following sites for more information;

TV Turn off week Information
TV Ratings for Family If you watch any TV, do check this out

Image Source: NewYorker Cover, Thanksgiving 2006

Check out next in series101 changes: change 8 – Stretch your comfort Zone .

101 changes: Change 1- Reduce Drinking Soda

101 changes: Change 2: Getting to email Zen

101 changes: Change 3: Slow down- Slow blogging movement

101 changes: Change 4 – Plant something

101 changes: Change 5 – Smile when you wake up

101 changes: Change 6:: Read a book – Benefits of reading

101 changes: Change 7 – Watch less Television and Be more productive

101 changes: Change 8 – Stretch your comfort zone

101 changes: Change 9:  Drink to your health- Benefits of Drinking Tea

101 changes: Change 10: Bring out the artist in You AKA be creative

About Author: This post is written by Preeti who writes under name of Zengirl on Heart and Mind Blog. She writes articles about self improvement, stress free and slow living and believes in slow blogging.

If you liked this article, please subscribe to Heart and Mind blog for FREE via RSS Feed or email.


 
I am stay at home with 2 kids, married to my best friend zenguy. I am in to simplifying, slow and sustainable living, I am frugal, love reading, writing and watching romantic movies. I believe in family, friendship and community.

43 comments

  1. Evelyn says:

    Hi Preeti,

    I do believe that people watch way too much T.V. I don’t watch it at all. Someone can tell me something that was in the news and most of the time, I haven’t seen it. I do however keep up with news on the internet.

    I’ve heard people call the T.V. an idiot box and one-eyed monster. Well, there could be some truth to these statements.

    You provide a good list of other activities that people can do besides watching T.V. I especially enjoy blogging, being out in nature, and gardening.

    Since I’ve been watching less T.V., I am able to do other things that I would not be doing had I kept wasting time watching T.V. (like blogging) ;)

    Take care!
    -Evelyn

  2. Dia says:

    Nice post Preeti, when we cut down on watching tv, we could be doing other more important things like working on improving ourselves, educating ourselves etc… I love the list you mentioned. :)

  3. Jean Sarauer says:

    I quit watching almost all television about a year ago. My husband still watches quite a lot, so sometimes I’ll sit with him when he’s watching, but I don’t enjoy it. There are times I can enjoy a good movie with no commercials, a performance of some type, etc., but for the most part, I stay away from it. I’ve really seen how I bought into the consumer conditioning from all the commercials. Now that I’m away from that I don’t get that ‘I have to buy this,’ feeling at all!

  4. Marko -- Calm Growth says:

    I love the way you presented what we can do instead of watching television.

    I do not like TV. I think that life can be spent better than just turning the channels around… [OK, sometimes I watch TV, although it's rarely the case, usually the channels about the history or Discovery...]

  5. Betsy Bargain says:

    You have a good point here, Preeti. I watch far too much tv, and there are so many ways that time could be better spent. At least I multi-task and check email, etc. while I’m doing it!

  6. ZenGirl says:

    Evelyn,

    I think in US, we watch lot of TV, I used to be one of them. Now I watched a few selected PBS shows or selected movies on DVDs (that I already know about). Yes, I know many people call TV, idiot box, but one eye monster is new to me! It makes sense.

    we disconnected cable, ethnic Indian channels around 2002 and have not gone back and do not miss much. Like yourself, I do not know what is “hot” and “in” things on TV are and I am okay with that! Without TV to occupy our time, we can do so much, now I wished I can do same thing with internet! :-)

  7. ZenGirl says:

    Dia,

    You are so right about doing important things to improve ourselves and our lives; Not watching TV can free up so much time, I realized it only after I gave it up and it was not as bad as I imagined.

  8. ZenGirl says:

    Jean,

    Good for you! Yes, without TV’s ads and influence we do not feel the “need” to buy things. My kids see very little TV and that too PBS shows or handful selected DVDs without commercials and it has made a positive influence as R does not ask for toys as much other 5 year olds.

    I have given up watching cable since 2002! and have not missed it, really. I am lost when people talk about “lost” (show) :-)

  9. ZenGirl says:

    Marko,

    Thank you, I wanted to show what we can do in time we spent watching TV. I still watch occasional shows on PBS or DVD movies as I love selected movies but I am way behind on all current hits. History and discovery channels are also good and educational but we do not have cable anymore! and with 2 kids 5 and under, we get limited free time to watch much TV.

  10. ZenGirl says:

    Betsy,

    TV watching is not bad, as long as you watch it limited time and do not ignore your other important tasks in life. It does not have to all or nothing. We still occasionally watch PBS shows and selected movies on DVDs that we rent from Library!

    I can imagine you trying to multitask watching TV, doing email and other things, I have been there so I can really picture it!

  11. Alien Ghost says:

    Hi Preeti,

    Too much television used to be a problem many years ago in my family but nowadays it is rarely watched with an average of no more than 4 hours a week, which includes watching a classic movie rented through Netflix and some open wheel racing with my son.

    TV can be an excellent source to acquire knowledge if the programs are carefully selected, otherwise it becomes destructive, just like how we select the kind of foods we have

    Raul

  12. rob white says:

    Hi Preeti,
    Great points. Doing anything mechanically is anathema to our naturally, spontaneous nature. If we are clear about our intention, ie “I’m watching this show to have a laugh” then we are in control of our lives. We can even learn and grow (or just relax) when viewing TV rightly. Most people sleepwalk through their WHOLE day mechanically going through the motions… It’s little wonder they find solace in tuning out by watching TV.

  13. Marion Anderson says:

    Hi Preeti

    This is a really good post. The stats are rather frightening. I have cut down quite dramatically on the amount of TV that I watch. I now choose which programs I want to see and no longer sit mindlessly watching. Strangely it has become more of a pleasure to watch a favorite program and more relaxing too.

  14. Steve says:

    Preeti,

    Though I would like to I cannot say I watch no TV. I still find some interesting programs to enjoy. I do Watch less than an hour a day, and watch everything recorded or downloaded (so it is about 25% shorter.

    I certainly agree that in general, though TV can be a nice “break” many use it as an “escape” and this is never a good thing.

    Steve

  15. ZenGirl says:

    Tess,

    Partnership is marriage is great! Zenguy and I also do things for each other that we normal would not have done. I actually have found a few things I like by doing it.

  16. ZenGirl says:

    Raul,

    4 hours per week is great number! I think TV, Video games and internet all are great at entertaining and learning as long as we do it in limit.

    I used to watch 2-3 hours daily TV, and that was not a good thing! Now we watch selected TV and DVDs and it is working so far.

  17. ZenGirl says:

    Rob,

    True, we do have choice and control of our lives but I know I have used that same excuse in past, I admit. I had a bad day at work, and I need brain dead time, so we watch TV and cycle continues!

    TV can be pretty darn addictive and entertaining! The best option, do not turn it on, that works for me.

  18. ZenGirl says:

    Marion,

    I think it is wonderful idea! Many of us, keep flipping channels even when there is nothing interesting on TV!

    Sometimes I get TV program on DVDs (if I know for sure what is in it after reading reviews) that way I can watch it without ads. In 1 hour show, there is lot of commercial time!

  19. ZenGirl says:

    Steve,

    I am a big believer in doing what works for us in small steps. I think watching less than 1 hour a day is great!

    I think recording and watching is wonderful idea, you will watch it in less time and no ads to influence us. TV can be a great escape for many people who had a bad day at work, and in life. I know I have used it myself.

  20. Keith Davis says:

    Hi Preeti
    This is an easy one – take up blogging and you won’t have time to watch television. LOL
    I listen to the radio a lot.
    Good thing about the radio is that you can do other things and still listen. Read a book, surf the net, lots of things.
    Even we men can manage basic multi tasking.

  21. Angela Artemis says:

    Hi Preeti,
    I don’t watch much TV. I’ve always felt it was just a time vacuum. And, you’re right we cannot start a blog and watch TV –

    The only time I do succumb to TV is when I’m so tired, to tired to write or do anything else. Then I’ll watch it, but I usually find it very disappointing.

    Thank you for this terrific post.

  22. Andrea DeBell - britetalk says:

    Hi Preeti! I agree that there are many more interesting things to do than watch TV. The best way to find out is by turning off the TV. I canceled cable a long time ago and my kids we very supportive of the decision. I’m glad to say that none of us has missed it since then.

    I have to admit that we all love movies. We chose to reduce our TV watching experience to light and inspiring movies on the weekend. It has worked out great as one of our family rituals – with popcorn on the side, obviously :).

    Thanks for your suggestions and great perspecive in life. Loving blessings!

  23. Belinda Munoz + The Halfway Point says:

    Hi Preeti, I don’t watch much TV at all. I do sit with my son for about 5 – 10 minutes watching parts of his favorite DVDs, but this is part of his nighttime sleep routine. Aside from that, the TV stays off unless I’m trying to catch someone like Obama or Hillary Clinton giving a talk about a big subject. I don’t necessarily think TV is evil because there were educational programs that I loved when I was growing up, but I think it can be a major time suck and is conducive to a sedentary life.

    Great post!

  24. ZenGirl says:

    Keith,
    :-) ha, I agree, blogging can take up so much work, in front and behind the scene! No time left to watch any TV. I like listening to radio and Music too, you can do other things like cleaning, cooking and other basic things while listening to music!

    I know men can do multi tasking, who said they could not? :-) Good to see you again.

  25. ZenGirl says:

    Angela,

    Yep, blogging, having kids, taking care of mom, being part of daily strom, are a few of many reasons, we may not have enough time to do anything like watching TV or sometimes even more important thing.

    Now that fall school started, we are busy teaching and learning, I am hardly finding time to breath also!

    I like to watch occasional movies (mostly comedies) that I like, sometimes it takes me weeks to finish one movie as I can only watch in 15-20 minutes interval with kids and life.

  26. ZenGirl says:

    Andrea,

    Welcome, I am glad you and kids are enjoying cable free time. We have been cable free since 2002, and have not missed anything much. Yes, I feel clueless when people talk about something happened in TV but that is fine with me.

    We still watch kids and fun movies occasionally as I love movies. I like your weekend movie rituals with popcorn on side! :-) Thanks for the comment. Hope to see you again.

  27. ZenGirl says:

    Belinda,

    Yes, TV has its benefits and can be educational. I am not also against TV, that is why I said, “less” Television. Problem happens that many of us are watching 2-6 hours of TV per day and that is a lot.

    My son loves PBS shows and we watch one or two shows (30 mins each) occasionally. I love movies on DVDs that way we do not see much of commercial ads.
    Thank you for stopping by, it is always lovely to see you.

  28. jonathanfigaro says:

    It just makes more sense to watch less t.v and read more books. Here are the benefits of reading..

    1. U get smarter =)

    …Thats all folks…Plus, you realize the difference between the real and the fake. You’ll begin to understand television is programmed to make you dumber. And cause you to achieve less and stay ignorant. A good movie to watch is Network 1967! It’s a classic and will change your life! Check it out!

    Quote from movie: I’m as mad as hell, and I’m not going to take this anymore”

  29. ZenGirl says:

    Jonathan,

    Yes, books have many benefits as I wrote about in my 101 changes, change #6, books sure make us more knowledgeable.

    I have seen Network, it is good movie! TV has its benefits but too much of it is not good for anyone.

  30. ayo says:

    hello preeti,
    how are you?
    thanks for sharing this and it’s funny i have been catching up on my fav blogs as well as doing some research for my course work in the last 3/4 hours and i have achieved quite a lot with the TV off.
    there are obvious benefits in watching television but at times it could serve as a distraction, time waster, promote procrastination……
    anyway you take care of yourself and have a lovely weekend.

  31. Mark says:

    Hi Preeti!

    This is my first comment on your blog.

    It’s good that you brought up this topic. I have a good amount of stuff to say about watching (rather, not watching) TV. I think it would be appropriate for me to even write a post about my experience.

    Guess what? I have taken out TV from my life altogether! Yes, I haven’t had the idiot box in my house for the last 7 years or so, and I never looked back with regret. :-)

    I’ll see you around…

    Wishing you success,
    Mark

  32. ZenGirl says:

    Mark,

    Welcome and thanks for the comment. I am happy you have taken TV out of your life for 7 years! That is simply amazing. Watching TV can be very addicting as I know I have been there. We still watch selected and pretty much (less) commercial free DVD and PBS since 2002 and it has made a huge change in our lives.

    Now, I wish I can do same with internet! :-)

  33. ZenGirl says:

    Ayo,

    TV has its benefits and uses but when I used to watch too much, I felt so busy and stressed. Now, I still watch selected stuff but it is lot easier. We can do so much when TV is off, at least it is true for me.

    My girlfriends and I used to watch TV during college years and whenever ads came in, we got up and did work that needed to be done and it was amazing how much stuff we got it done but not being influenced to buy stuff watching ads was priceless!

  34. Justin Dupre says:

    Preeti,

    Hello! How are you? I’ve been pretty hectic with my project for a few weeks now. I am loving your new blog look and will keep up with your 101 changes. Every kid in the US should be reading your blog post now, it’s nice how you put what we can do instead of watching TV.

  35. Henway says:

    TV in the past has been an escape. When I had serious issues or stuff that was nagging at me I’d just turn on the TV and try to drown those thoughts out. It’s the same thing with video games, movies, etc. Nowadays, I make sure I address these serious issues by self examination, meditating, or talking them over with someone. TV is a drug that I stay away from =)

  36. Sufism World says:

    So true – T.V is considered in some respect to a form of hypnosis. There is enough literature out there (books, internet, etc) which adds to this debate. From my personal experience, watching T.V detaches you from a) reality and b) isolates you from family and community and c) makes you lazy to do what you want.

    Admittedly, I did use to watch T.V but only on weekends, as during the week my time was spent studying for University. Now – nothing has changed. I have this black box sat there which I occasionally switch on for the new, sports or a DVD.

    I have thought about how life would have been, if the T.V did not exist and unfortunately I cannot answer that. But, the good news is you can break free from this hypnosis type of medium and take control of your own life.

    Great post.

  37. ZenGirl says:

    Sufism,

    Good for you! Little TV can bring enjoyment and relaxation but I think many people are often watching too many hours daily on it and that can lead to bad eating habit, and not being creative.

  38. ZenGirl says:

    Henway,

    For many TV is entertainment, part of escape from hard and mundane life, it was for me once. You are so right about this, good for you to address these issues that causes us to watch more TV.

Comments are closed.