Screen-Free, For a Week

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Architect Frank Lloyd Wright had a point when he wryly observed that "Television is like chewing gum for the eyes."

On average, based on Nielsen ratings, children in the US will spend more time in front of the television set per year (1,023 hours) than in their classrooms (900 hours). That's a lot of, um, gum.

In fact, Americans typically watch more than four hours of TV every day. From age 2 through 65, that translates to watching more than 10 entire years of TV. Those statistics alone should be enough to enthusiastically support TV-Turnoff Week, which is under way this week and expected to inspire some 7.6 million Americans to break away from their sets - at least for a few days.

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What can happen when you turn off the tube? A lot of good things, according to the nonprofit TV-Turnoff's executive director, Frank Vespe: "People discover that TV is consuming a lot of time. It's that realization that forces them to reduce their screen time, and make more time for screen-free activities - like reading, physical activity, and actually interacting with friends and family."

Now that's a good idea. Forty percent of Americans say they always, or often, watch TV during dinner - hardly building community or strengthening family bonds. Not to mention that a couch-potato lifestyle just doesn't compare to being outdoors walking, riding a bike, or inside, shooting hoops at the gym.

So, take the week, and exercise the freedom to turn off the television. Lots of ideas to "think, create, and do" instead of watch TV can be found at www.tvturnoff.org.

And this year, how about viewers turning off indecent programming year-round, and letting advertisers know how they feel?

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