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Turn off the TV and Tune Into Your Family

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The statistics are pretty alarming. Television has become the central focus in too many homes. Consider:

  • The television is on for 7 hours and 40 minutes each day in the typical American home.
  • The average American watches four hours of television each day.
  • Fifty percent of all American households has three or more televisions
  • American parents on average spend less than 40 minutes each week in meaningful conversations with their children
  • 56% of American children between 8 and 16 have a television in their bedroom
  • Only 1 in 12 American families require their children to finish their homework before watching television.
  • Half of all Americans think they watch too much television.

We know that the television is a pervasive influence at home. It tends to be the center of entertainment and social interaction. With news, sports, entertainment, educational programming and more, it is often our window to the world.

But some organizations are working to change our attitudes about television. And the message is clear-turn off the TV and spend some quality social time with your family at home.

If you want to make a change in your viewing habits, here are a number of helpful suggestions for breaking the TV addiction and tuning into your family.

Pick the Favorite Few. Let each member of your family select one or two programs each week that are their favorites. Then record them on your VCR, DVD-R or TiVo and watch them on your schedule.

Turn it Off During Dinner. Having mealtime together is important; many families have decided to just turn off the tube during the dinner hour to stimulate conversation and minimize distraction.

Make A List of Alternative Activities. Take a family night together and identify at least twenty different activities you could do instead of watching TV. Post it prominently and choose an activity from the list each day until the list is all checked off.

Walk, Hike, Bike or Move. One of the big complaints about television is the "couch potato" effect. Turn off the TV and take a walk around the neighborhood. Find some local hiking and biking paths. Or just get up and get moving in healthy ways.

Visit the Library. To a large extent, our generation has lost our parents' love affair with books. Take an evening as a family to go to the local library, get or renew your library card and find some great books to read together as a family or as individuals.

Volunteer. Giving back to your community with the time you save by not sitting in front of the TV is a noble effort. Visit the Volunteer Match website to find service opportunities in your area.

Get Into the Paper. Some people who experiment with turning off the television complain they can't keep up with news and sports. Many who have turned off the TV have enjoyed rediscovering the local newspaper, whether in print or online. The newspaper offers more in depth coverage than the television, and can often be read or scanned in less time than watching a national or local news broadcast.

Growing through Growing. If the time of year is right, think about starting and maintaining a garden with the time you save. About Fatherhood's guide to family gardening can help you get started the right way.

Start a Family Night. Many families are finding that setting aside one night each week to be together as a family has really helped their family unity. Learn more about how to make family night a success.

Finding ways to turn off the TV and tune into your family can have important results. Connecting with your children, enhancing your marital relationship and more can be possible as you create positive memories and experiences that don't involve television.

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