I'm still at the New Economics Foundation Conference that I mentioned yesterday and having the time of my life. We've been talking today a lot about how television and advertising promotes a set of values that--by definition--promote resource consumption and undermine sustainability.
After a day of that, I can't tell you how glad we haven't allowed that particular enemy back into the living room since the end of the No Impact project. For fun, I noodled around on the internet, looking into the effects on my little Isabella that we're managing to avoid, and I found an article by Jane Brody of the New York Times that says:
- "The average young child in this country watches about four hours of television a day and each year sees tens of thousands of commercials, often for high-fat, high-sugar or high-salt snacks and foods; thousands of episodes of violence; and countless instances of alcohol use and inappropriate sexual activity."
- "By the time American children finish high school, they have spent nearly twice as many hours in front of the television set as in the classroom."
- "Nearly 60 percent of children aged 8 to 16 have a TV in their bedroom...With access to television wherever children may be, it is hard for parents to control the amount and content of what they watch."
- "It is no surprise, then, that the percentage of American children who are seriously overweight has risen to more than 15 percent today, from 5 percent in 1964. 'TV reduction appears to be the most effective measure in reducing weight gain,' said Dr. William H. Dietz of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention."
- "Studies have found that children who watch 10 or more hours of TV a week have lower reading scores and perform less well academically than comparable youngsters who spend less time watching television."
- "The more TV watched by toddlers aged 1 to 3, the greater their risk of attention problems at age 7. For each hour watched a day, the risk of developing attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder increased by nearly 10 percent."
- "A study two years ago by the Center for Child Health Outcomes in San Diego found that children aged 10 to 15 who watched five or more hours of television a day were six times as likely to start smoking as those who watched less than two hours a day."
The good news for parents who rely on TV to keep their children busy? Anecdotally, people find that kids who lives in households without TV learn other, more active ways to entertain themselves.
Colin Beavan (that's me!) is now leading a conversation about finding a happy, helpful life at Colinbeavan.com. If you want to know how people are breaking out and and finding authentic, meaningful lives that help our world, check it out the blog here and sign up to join the conversation here.