National TV Turnoff encourages plugging into other activities
Imagine going without your daily paper for a week. List five things you'd miss the most.
Compare reading a newspaper with watching a newscast or educational show. Talk about differences in how you interact with each, how you absorb information, whether you can review portions of interest and other distinctions.
Papers and TV each provide news and information. Discuss where you'd look first as a reliable source for developments in each of these subject areas: government, education, sports, entertainment, celebrities and your local community.
TVs, computers and video games will remain dark in some homes across the country next week to observe the 15th annual National TV Turnoff, a way for families to share unplugged leisure activities for seven days. "Turning off the screen gives us time to think, read, create and do the things we never have time for," says a statement from the Center for Screen-Time Awareness, a public-interest group in Washington, D.C., "This allows us to connect with our families and engage in our communities. We feel good about ourselves as we grow more physically and mentally active."
Avoiding electronic media at home from April 20-26 also is intended to encourage limited, responsible use of electronic media during other weeks by balancing those choices with more active pursuits. An estimated 20 million people participated in 2008, says the nonprofit center. Supporters include pediatricians, other doctors' groups, the YMCA and Big Brothers Big Sisters of America. Specialists cite evidence that heavy TV watching can contribute to weight gain, academic problems and attention disorders.
A national bookseller, Barnes & Noble, will host events in 32 states -- including game nights, scavenger hunts, arts and crafts demonstrations, storytelling, performances, star-gazing and parties. Other suggested alternatives to YouTube and TV shows include books, walks, board or card games, photography, crafts, sporting events and community programs. The Washington center notes that instead of watching a documentary about birds or animals, for instance, families can visit a park or zoo to see live ones in person. Instead of sending e-mail, families could write cards or letters to friends and relatives in other cities. And instead of tuning to CNN, network news or a local version, check the newspaper for weather, sports, entertainment and developing stories -- just as a video host does in the accompanying clip.
Organizer says: "If you are visiting a doctor's office, ask them to turn off any televisions in their waiting rooms -- especially pediatricians." -- Robert Kesten, executive director, Center for Screen-Time Awareness
TVs in public: Advocates of reduced watching say we should be able to chat, read and think without distractions at airports, lobbies, cafeterias, gyms and other public spaces.
Professor says: "Television on all over the place is leading to a steady dumbing down of the American public and a corrosion of basic critical thinking in the population." -- Jamie Raskin, law professor at American University in Washington, D.C.
Front Page Talking Points is written by
Felix Grabowski and Alan Stamm for NIEonline.com, Copyright 2013
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