The same article reports that the average American's TV viewing is 4.5 hours a day which means over 31 hours a week – enough to fill a second job! It also states that, in the US, children will spend more time watching TV than at school.
It's true that some people seem to need the TV on all the time, even if they are not watching, as if it really is a companion. It's on when they are talking on the phone, when friends visit, when they are out of the room. I remember visiting a friend to see her new baby and the TV was on the whole time even though we spent time in another room and then in the living room with a group of friends. I think it got turned down but it didn't go off even though the host was sitting with her back to the TV.
TV has been described as the "one-eyed childminder" and while parents will try to assure you they don't use the TV as a babysitter it does come in handy to know the kids are sitting on the sofa when you need to get something done in the kitchen.
This family certainly felt the TV was "an undeniable intrusion into family life" and have found an incredible number of positives from removing TV viewing from their household. Surprisingly the kids are less bored and have found more ways to entertain themselves, and the whole family are talking together more and sleeping better.
I know some parents will think depriving your children of TV viewing will make them a social outcast as they won't be able to chat with friends about TV shows but I know a family with three school-age children and no TV at home and the kids are just as popular as any others.
If you work in an office you may feel you can't join in the conversations about the TV shows the night before but it will bring the realisation of how much TV viewing shapes our evenings.
That Time is Yours
While the majority of us are always complaining about never having enough time, by reducing TV viewing we would have more time without the distractions. We could go out in the evenings to that class we've been meaning to take or finish that book that has been on the bedside cabinet for the last year.
Don't Have to Do Without
No-one is saying watching the TV is forbidden forever but by watching less you'll appreciate what you do get to see. Watching a football game round a friend's house is sociable and you don't have to avoid it.
I have seen households who brag that they don't have a TV and look down on those of us who do yet they watch DVDs on the laptop every night – even when friends come round. If I wanted to watch an old film on a portable TV-sized screen I'd visit an aged relative as this is hardly living without TV viewing.
Try for One Week
This journalist took the challenge to live without TV for one week knowing it was going to be one of the hardest things he had ever done. He was told successful people "wake up early and they don’t watch television" which may be an incentive for some.
If you want to give this a go but would like to build up to the day, or get support from others trying it too, 29 April to 5 May 2013 is the annual Screen-free Week (formerly TV Turnoff Week and Digital Detox Week). They stress that switching off the TV is not about depriving yourself of a treat but about making important lifestyle changes to improve your quality of life.
Their stats reckon preschoolers watch 32 hours a week of television and older children watch even more so it does seem like a ridiculous time drain and a habit worth changing. Are you going to try?