• Turn off the TV and get to work

    We watch too much TV. It’s not good for our physical health, it’s not good for our minds, it’s not good for our children, and it makes the wrong people richer.

    TV-monitoring company Nielsen reports that the average American watches just over five-and-a-half hours of television, every day of the year. That’s more than 2,000 hours a year, equal to 50, 40-hour work weeks. Watching TV is a full-time job! A few more stunning statistics:

    • Nielsen reports children between the ages of 2 and 11 watch more than 24 hours of television a week. (How many hours do you think they read a week?)
    • Nickelodeon says those born after 2005 are watching 35 hours per week.
    • African-Americans watch an average of 218 hours of TV a month, or more than 2,600 hours a year.

    Then-Senator Barack Obama lamented this in his 2006 book The Audacity of Hope, where he wrote (on pages 382-83):

    Many of the social or cultural factors that negatively affect black people, for example, simply mirror in exaggerated form problems that afflict America as a whole: too much television (the average black household has the television on more than eleven hours per day)….

    All this television watching by Americans contributes to obesity and unhealthy outcomes that result from a sedentary lifestyle; crowds out more productive uses of time, whether it be work or learning; pollutes the minds of adults and especially children, given the coarse nature of so much TV fare; and further enriches radicals in Hollywood that insult our values and play to the lowest common denominator among us.

    The single step every American could take right now to dramatically improve his or her life over the next decade would be to cut television viewing by just two hours per day. That would still leave an average of more than 100 hours each month to enjoy the best that TV can offer, while freeing up more than 7,000 hours over the next decade for self-improvement and other forms of entertainment. One could learn a language, become a student of jazz, do more reading, add in more exercise, and study a skill needed to get that next promotion. Some people would choose to work more, increasing their income.

    Here’s the TL4A challenge: write down everything you watch, while you are watching it, for two weeks. Each night before bed, circle the two hours of TV that day that were the least enjoyable. When your test is complete, cut out the shows you were circling. Your life will be transformed.

    Now imagine our entire nation doing that: It would assure that the 21st century was another American Century.

    Think about it.