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Anger | Of Interest | Positive Guidance | Communicating | Television | Crisis


How much television do you watch each day?

According to a National survey (1998) the average American watches 3 hours and 46 minutes of television each day!

Television has become increasingly important in our lives. It is here to stay, although the TV does cause parents to worry about its' influence on the lives of children, as well as their relationships with others.

Here are some interesting statistics on television and our nation's viewing patterns! (A.C. Nielsen Co., 1998)

Family Life:
  • 98% of U.S. households have at least one television.
  • 66% of Americans regularly watch TV while eating dinner.
  • 49% of Americans say they watch too much TV.
  • Average number of hours the TV set is on during the day: 7 hrs., 12 minutes.

Graphic: Television

Children and Education:

  • Number of minutes per week most children spend watching TV = 1,197
  • Number of minutes per week most parents talk with their children = 38
  • Hours/week of TV viewing shown to have a negative affect on academic efforts = 10 or more
  • 81 % of 4th graders watch 14 or more hours of TV per week
  • Average number of hours/year our children watch television = 1,500
  • Average number of hours/year our children spend in school = 900

Violence and Health:

  • Number of violent acts the average American child sees on TV by age 18 = 200,000
  • Number of murders witnessed by children on television by age 18 = 16,000
  • Children behave differently after viewing violent acts - become less sensitive to the suffering of others; more fearful of the world around them; and, behave more aggressively towards others (APA Public Communications, 1999)
  • % of children who said they felt upset or scared by violence on TV = 91%
  • Number of medical studies since 1985 which link childhood obesity and excessive TV watching = 12
  • Children ages 6-11 years who were seriously overweight in 1963 = 4.5%; In 1993 = 14%
  • Increase in network news coverage of homicide between 1990 & 1995 = 336%
  • Reduction in American homicide rate between 1990-1995 = 13%


Families need to gain an awareness of how the television is used in their home. Is it a source of information and entertainment? Is it left on for "sound value" when no one is really watching? Are parents aware of what children are viewing throughout the day? Do family members discuss what is seen on their television? Are there set times when the television is turned off so that it does not interfere with homework, visiting, or family activities?

Here are some ways you can influence the impact that television viewing can have on your family. Use this checklist to identify what you are doing, what you may want to do, and what you might consider in the future.

  • MONITOR WHAT YOUR CHILD(REN) SEE ON YOUR TELEVISION. Decide together (as a family) which programs are suitable for viewing. Monitor your child's TV time.
  • TURN THE TELEVISION OFF DURING MEALTIME! Having the TV on during meals establishes poor eating habits and can lead to overeating. It interferes with talking, too.
  • DO NOT USE THE TV AS A BABYSITTER. Help your youngster find interesting things to do and ways he/she can be helpful at home.
  • BE AWARE OF UNCLEAR, SHAKY PICTURES ON THE SCREEN. This can cause eyestrain. Viewing programs in too dark a room or within 4 feet of the screen can also be harmful and cause eyestrain.
  • TALK ABOUT PROGRAMS THAT ARE BEING WATCHED. Whether it is a sports program or a weekly regular, talk about what is happening and who the characters are. Discuss also the theme of the story and whether you agree with the content of the program, language used, or plots of the story. Children will learn what to value from you.
  • ENCOURAGE YOUR CHILDREN TO DO OTHER ACTIVITIES THROUGHOUT THE DAY. Playing outdoors and with friends, helping with chores around the house, or reading a good book can pull children away from the TV and make them less dependent upon it for filling their time.
  • BE A ROLE MODEL TO YOUR CHILDREN. Read, walk, jog, have friends visit, or become involved in projects or a hobby. Let your children see that you do not have to have the TV on all the time for company or to be entertained.