10 Reasons To Turn Off The TV

How many hours do you devote to watching television in one week? Stop for a second, and calculate how many shows you faithfully follow, plus any tv time you spend with your spouse/significant other. Now multiply that total by 52. How many hours per year do you spend in front of a television set?   We are all busy people, especially us entrepreneurs. And if your life looks similar to mine, you not only run your own business, but you have a full-time day job, community activities, time with friends, and other errands and life commitments that have claims on your time. I can imagine its even more hectic for married women and mothers, since your time is then devoted to children, spouses and the maintenance of a household as well. Maybe your TV watching time is your free time; maybe, at the end of the day, that is how you unwind. But there are better ways you can spend that time and unwind from the stresses that assault you.  

Reasons To Turn Off The TV

Here are 10 reasons why you should turn off the TV:

  1. Watching TV is a waste of your time.
  2. It has a negative effect on your children.
  3. Others profit from your time.
  4. It promotes a sendentary, unhealthy lifestyle.
  5. You’re not being intellectually stimulated.
  6. There’s no QUALITY involved when quality time is spent in front of the TV.
  7. You could use your free time to pursue your interests.
  8. The messages inherent in programming ruins your self-esteem.
  9. The messages inherent in programming send negative images to your children.
  10. The majority of news programming promotes negativity and causes worry.


1. Watching TV is a waste of your time.

According to the A.C. Nielsen Co., the average American watches more than 4 hours of TV each day (or 28 hours/week, or 2 months of nonstop TV-watching per year). In a 65-year life, that person will have spent 9 years glued to the tube. 9 YEARS!!! Now I bet there are other things you can do with 9 years of your life than spend them with your buns planted on the couch.  

2. It has a negative effect on your children.

We’ve all complained about how parents are not raising children these days, that TV is now doing the parenting.  We’ve also complained about the lack of quality programming being offered on TV, and how more and more sexually explicit material is being conveyed to the public. Spending so much time watching TV is becoming a mainstay in the average child’s life. Don’t believe me? Here are some numbers that confirm that TV watching is bad for kids [Source: TV-Free America]:  

  • Number of minutes per week that parents spend in meaningful conversation with their children: 3.5
  • Number of minutes per week that the average child watches television: 1,680
  • Percentage of 4-6 year-olds who, when asked to choose between watching TV and spending time with their fathers, preferred television: 54
  • Hours per year the average American youth spends in school: 900 hours
  • Hours per year the average American youth watches television: 1500


3. Others profit from your time.

Time is money, right? We’ve been saying that maxim forever. And time really is money, especially where television advertising is concerned. By 1993, advertisers were spending $15 billion for your time. Shouldn’t you treat your time with more value, than by zoning out on the couch? Think about this, too: how much time do you spend promoting TV programs for FREE? That’s right, companies are spending billions to advertise and you’re helping the TV stations and cable companies to get rich. How often do you talk about True Blood, Dancing with the Stars, America’s Best Dance Crews, and other popular shows? You’re not receiving any perks from this word-of-mouth promotion.  

4. It promotes a sendentary, unhealthy lifestyle.

If you’re sitting in front of the television, you’re sitting and not moving. The average person spends 4 hours in front of the TV; 67% of adults are overweight, and 34% are obese. [Source: CDC Fast Stats] You can see that, if a person spends only 2 hours in front of the TV, the other 2 hours can be spent preparing a healthy meal and working out. And thats also 2 hours where a person isn’t being inundated with commercials for unhealthy fast food, desserts and breakfast foods. Now, 1 out of 3 kids are considered overweight or obese 

  • Number of 30-second TV commercials seen in a year by an average child: 20,000
  • Number of TV commercials seen by the average person by age 65: 2 million
  • Percentage of survey participants (1993) who said that TV commercials aimed at children make them too materialistic: 92
  • Rank of food products/fast-food restaurants among TV advertisements to kids: 1

5. You’re not being intellectually stimulated.

When I ask most of my TV watching friends how often they read, they either look at me like I’ve lost my mind or stolen their remote. Read??? ‘Why read when there’s TV?’ they ask. At that point, I just change the subject.

 I admit that I read alot more than the average person and its hard to explain to someone who doesn’t like to read how it will improve their life. For me, the book is better than the movie 99% of the time. Its much more fun to fill in the details with my imagination instead of the director’s interpretation. And I like to control when I revisit a beloved story, instead of when the station dictates it should air.  

Maybe reading isn’t your thing, but there are alot of other things you could do to stimulate your mind instead of watch TV. Freeing up some of your free time will allow you to hold deeper conversations with friends, instead of ending convos with “ok girl, its 9 o’clock, and True Blood is about to come on. Talk to you later!” You could also play games with your friends, such as Monopoly, that teach them skills like budgeting, or talk to them about school and the world around them. TV-Free America has other ideas of ways to spend time when you’re not in front of the TV.  

6. There’s no QUALITY involved when quality time is spent in front of the TV.

Its the end of a long, stressful day. You get home, change into something more comfortable, and you and your boo curl up in front of the TV. This is probably a routine that you’ve established, and one thats become automatic. But you guys aren’t really talking (unless its 30 second bursts between commercials) and your attention is glued to the screen, not to each other. Stay with me for a minute. You’re both laughing at the antics of the Real Housewives of Atlanta, how much of your undivided attention is your sweetie getting? How much is he giving you? Why not spend that same cuddle time listening to smooth jazz, talking about your day, or building a stronger relationship? Now I’m not advocating you do this during football season (lol), but I’d bet you could find more ways to put the quality into your quality time if you turned the TV off.  

7. You could use your free time to pursue your interests.

Have you ever wanted to take a salsa class? Meet more men? How about learn a foreign language, learn to sew or train for a 5K or marathon? You could be out experiencing life, instead of watching Dancing With the Stars. Why wait until you have more time? I bet you’d have that time if you turn the TV off and get to living!  

8. The messages inherent in programming ruins your self-esteem.

Do you ever wonder what size your favorite actresses wear? Have you ever wanted Beyonce’s hair? How about wanting the body of a video vixen, or the perfect skin of the contestants on The Bachelor? TV gives the modern woman a hard act to follow. And viewing all those images of ‘female perfection’ day in and day out take a toll on your self-esteem. Well, sistas, models and actresses are on tv because they are not the average woman. They don’t eat the average diet, get paid the average salary or have the same time constraints placed on their day. That’s why they can look good day in and day out, and they are paid for their looks. We, on the other hand, have about an hour to get ready for work; have to cook for ourselves and our families; have to find the time to shop for and plan nutritious meals, hit the gym and the hair salon; and have to incorporate our own genetic makeup into the equation. Its just not healthy to compare yourself to these women, and unfortunately its a habit that becomes easier the longer you sit in front of the TV.  

The messages inherent in programming send negative images to your children. Let’s take a look at some of the statistics regarding TV and violence [Source: TV-Free America]:  

  • The average child will watch 8,000 murders on TV before finishing elementary school.
  • By age eighteen, the average American has seen 200,000 acts of violence on TV, including 40,000 murders.

Viewing thousands of random acts of violence desensitizes a person and ultimately cheapens the value of a human life. Do you want your 9 year old to become accustomed to seeing mugshots on TV? Do you want your daugther to see men get shot, stabbed, or any of the sexually explicit conduct that’s highlighted on TV? Lets really think about the images we’re allowing children to be exposed to. This goes back to advertising too. How many sexually-themed commercials show during the Super Bowl? Our kids are watching and forming their opinions about life, relationships, and morality based off of these images that they see every day. Now combine this extended TV time, with parents being busier and spend less time talking to their kids. You can see where this will lead, and its not to a positive place for our children.

9. The majority of news programming promotes negativity and causes worry.

Here’s the main reason I don’t watch TV: when I was growing up, and even to this day, my mom watches the news at least twice a day. She usually watches at 5 or 6pm and then again before bed at 11. In my opinion, as a result of watching all of these reports of murders, robberies, fatal car accidents, corrupt police officers, kidnappings, and other mayhem, she has terrible nerves. If I went out late, she’d say “be careful, there are crazy people out there! Just yesterday in Miami there were 11 shootings!” If I told her I’d met someone new, she’d say “well that’s nice, just keep your eyes open! The other day they found this woman’s body in a ditch; she got raped and strangled to death by a man she met at a bar”. Lets not even talk about me living in DC. If the threat level goes from orange to red, you can bet Mama will call. She was beside herself when the DC Sniper was at large, and if there’s an accident on the metro and she can’t reach me, she’s frantic.  

You can see why I’m not a fan of the news.   In general I think the news works to make us all paranoid. If we hear that the economy is bad, then we don’t spend any money and the economy gets worse. If we hear that Swine Flu is becoming an epidemic, then people walk around with masks and don’t interact with others. And if we see that Kanye West interrupts Taylor Swift, that news items takes on such importance that our president even calls him a jackass. Like, seriously, that’s newsworthy? Anyway. Do you ever question how stories are selected to appear on the air? Do you ever wish that more positive stories were shown on the news?  

  • Percentage of local TV news broadcast time devoted to advertising: 30
  • Percentage devoted to stories about crime, disaster and war: 53.8
  • Percentage devoted to public service announcements: 0.7


I agree with the sentiment that people want to be informed about the world around them. I haven’t watched the news in years, but I for the most part I stay informed by reading blogs and from conversations with friends and coworkers. Try a diet of less news programming, and hopefully you’ll experience better sleep, less fear and a more positive outlook on life.

Mohammed khalf
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writer and blogger, founder of Go motivations .

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