What Every American's New Year's Resolution Should Be
It's almost the end of the year and time for our annual New Year's Resolutions. Some of us will resolve to lose weight, get in shape, get a new job, eat healthier, or even spend more time with the kids. What if I told you that you could do all of these things and more by resolving to do just one thing? Better still, this one thing won't cost you anything. In fact, I guarantee it will save you money!
What is that one thing? Turn off the TV! I don't mean turn it off for the evening. I mean turn it off for good. Kick the boob-tube habit. Cancel cable and/or NetFlix. Sell your televisions. Get the TV monkey off your back. Get your real life back.
If you're still reading this, consider some startling Nielsen statistics:
- The Average American watches more than 4 hours of TV each day or 28 hours/week or 2 months per year. (that is a lot of time!)
- 99 percent of houseolds possess a TV
- TV is on in an avgerage US home almost 7 hours (Yikes!)
- America watches 250 billion hours of TV annually. At an average of just 5$/hour, the value of that time spent watching TV is $1.25 trillion (Holy smokes!)
- Americans rent 6 million videos daily while checking out only 3 million items from the library
- Number of minutes per week that parents spend in meaningful conversation with their children: 3.5 (If this is true, what the heck are we doing instead?)
- Number of minutes per week that the average child watches television: 1,680 (No wonder there are so many ads directed at kids!)
- Hours per year the average American youth spends in school: 900 hours
- Hours per year the average American youth watches television: 1500 (TV is the babysitter and teacher?)
- Number of murders seen on TV by the time an average child finishes elementary school: 8,000 (and one is too many)
- Number of violent acts seen on TV by age 18: 200,000
- 79 Percent of Americans believe TV violence helps precipitate real life mayhem (yet their kids are watching 28 hours of it per week!)
The American obesity rate continues to rise (63.1% of adults in the U.S. were either overweight or obese in 2009). At the same time, American life expectency is slipping. The main culprits: inactivity (children average more than 28 hours of television-viewing a week) and a high-calorie diet. A 1991 study showed that there were an average of 200 junk food ads in four hours of children's Saturday morning cartoons!
The American literacy rate (how many Americans can read) is declining (1in 7 U.S. adults are unable to read this story). According to the National Endowment for the Arts, (NEA),
Reading develops a capacity for focused attention and imaginative growth that enriches both private and public life. The decline in reading among every segment of the adult population reflects a general collapse in advanced literacy. To lose this human capacity - and all the diverse benefits it fosters - impoverishes both cultural and civic life.
A 2004 study shows that Literary readers are much more likely to be involved in cultural, sports and volunteer activities than are non-readers. For example, literary readers are nearly three times as likely to attend a performing arts event, almost four times as likely to visit an art museum, more than two-and-a-half times as likely to do volunteer or charity work, and over one-and-a-half times as likely to attend or participate in sports activities. People who read more books tend to have the highest level of participation in other activities.
So, after canceling your cable subscription and selling your TV(s), you'll have a bit of extra money and a ton of extra time. Here are ten things you can do instead of watching TV that will help you lose weight, eat better, prepare yourself for a better job, and allow you to spend more time with your kids in the new year.
Without the TV, we have time to:
1. Visit museums in our community
2. Go to the local public library and check out books for the entire family to read
3. Take the family for walks or bike rides in the neighborhood
4. Volunteer online, in our community, or in our own family
5. Grow a vegetable garden (Use pots if there is no ground space for a garden)
6. Learn something new (Academic Earth contains hundreds of free college course lectures on many topics)
7. Write that book we've always wanted to write
8. Learn to play a musical instrument (There are free YouTube videos for many instruments) or learn how to knit, make origami, or anything creative!
9. Attend performing arts performances in our community
10. Have more meaninful conversations with our children!