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More Shocking Television Statistics

The reach of television has changed dramatically. Children once had only eight or nine channels to choose from. If there was nothing interest- ing to watch, they had to find something else to do—ride a bike, draw pictures, play outside, etc. Never mind before television existed.

Today, children have access to hundreds of channels. There are individual stations specifically devoted to action, mysteries, westerns, cartoons, food, game shows, history, pets, comedy, soap operas, sci- ence fiction and religion. The list is growing—even exploding!

With so many channels to “surf,” it is not surprising that time spent watching television has skyrocketed, especially among children. Sixty percent of all children watch television and use the Internet an average of six hours daily.

In a survey of 3,155 children ages 2 to 18, half said that they did not have parental rules limiting their time viewing television or the kinds of programs they watched. And 61% of children ages eight and older said they watch what they want, when they want.

According to one study: (1) Men and boys portrayed on TV often focused on the opposite sex. One boy in the study said about a character, “His main goal is to get the girl.”

(2) One in five male characters uses physical aggression to solve problems.

  • (3)

    49% of the children polled watched music videos daily.

  • (4)

    More than 25% of the videos included some degree of attention

to female breasts, legs or torsos. Also, 50% of the time, women were likely to be featured semi-nude or dressed in revealing clothing.

Here are more facts about TV viewing in the U.S.: 98% of households have at least one television, 34% have two, and 40% have three or more.

In the average home, television is on 7 hours, 40 minutes per day. Among children ages 2 to 11, the average child watches 1,197 minutes—almost 20 hours—of television per week! Yet, his parents only engage in 38.5 minutes per week of meaningful conversation with him.

According to the U.S. Department of Education, “Academic achievement drops sharply for children who watch more than ten hours a week of TV.”

For example, 6th and 12th grade California students who were heavy TV watchers scored lower on reading, written expression and math achievement tests than students who viewed little or no televi- sion.

52% of children ages 5 to 17 and a very high percentage of chil- dren ages 2 to 5 also have a TV in their bedroom.

70% of daycare centers use television during a typical day. When asked to choose between watching TV or spending time with their fathers, 54% of children ages 4 to 6 preferred television.

The average youth spends 1,500 hours per year watching TV— but only 900 hours per year in school.

There is only a 1-in-12 chance that parents will require their chil- dren to do their homework before watching TV.

By the time the average child completes elementary school, we saw that he or she will have witnessed more than 100,000 acts of vio- lence on TV, including 8,000 murders. By age 18, these numbers dou- ble!

We also saw that by age 70, most people will have spent about ten full years watching television.

80% of Hollywood executives believe there is a link between TV violence and real-life violence.Yet they do nothing about the program- ming that they offer!

81% of children ages 2 to 7 watch television alone and unsuper- vised. This rises to 95% for older children.

According to a 1999 CNN report, “…a typical teen-ager views nearly 15,000 sexual references, innuendoes and jokes on television each year, of which fewer than 170 deal with abstinence, birth control, sexually transmitted diseases or pregnancy…

“The so-called television ‘family hour,’ from 8 p.m. to 9 p.m., con- tains more than eight sexual incidents per hour—four times as many as in 1976…

“Alcohol, tobacco or illicit drugs are present in 70% of prime time network dramatic programs…”

Children who are extensive television watchers tend to have a greater risk of obesity, alcohol and drug abuse, and sexual activity.

Children who watch 4 or more hours of television daily spend less time on homework, have poorer reading skills, interact less well with friends, and have fewer hobbies than children who watch less TV.

According to www.limitv.org: “Watching TV impedes the growth of longer attention spans…the approximately seven minute length of program before a commercial interruption can condition a child to a seven minute attention span. The Wall Street Journal, February 10, 1994, relates the experience of Odds Bodkin, who performs before some 100,000 people a year, most of them children.” (Recall his com- ment that after about seven minutes, restlessness sets in as children’s inner clocks anticipate a commercial break.)

“Watching TV interferes with the development of reading skills. A child must learn to move the eyes back and forth across the page in order to read. But with television, the eyes fix on the screen. One hour a day in school learning to move the eyes back and forth cannot com- pete with four or more hours with the eyes fixed on a TV screen. It’s little wonder that many children find difficulty learning to read.”

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