The television, often called the ‘boob tube’ is ever blamed for the demise of our society. For decades there have been anti-television advocacy groups positioning themselves in a ‘save the world,’ type of stance that feel television is ruining people’s lives. One thing that it doesn’t take into account is that you, the consumer – have the most powerful control in the world when it comes to television. The off button. If you feel like television is ruining your life, than perhaps it is time to realize that you have more power than you think and that it isn’t the fault of television stations and evil networks trying to brainwash you or your children; but instead your lack of balance and self control.

Seriously, is TV ruining your life? Is it truly responsible for turning North Americans into couch potatoes? Is the violence portrayed on television and the lack of censoring the news and changing television ratings responsible for ‘our youth gone wild?’ The questions about the quality of television and the types of shows used for entertainment purposes have long been used to refute accountability. And while the following statistics will show that television is a popular past time, it isn’t exactly fair to say that it as an entity is responsible for ruining anyone’s life.

According to the AC Nielson Co, the average American watches more than 4 hours of television per day. This equates to around 28 hours per week and 2 months of non-stop television viewing per calendar year. 99% of all North American families, regardless of social standing own a television set and this TV set is on approximately 7 hours per day. Around 60% of all North American families pay for cable television, and today – 66% of all families eat dinner with the TV on. As you can imagine, these numbers are drastically increased from just two decade ago.

For children, the changes in television viewing are the most pronounced. There have been over 4,000 studies done to ascertain the damage that television viewing is having on today’s children. Some of these studies have even blamed violence and bullying on the lack of supervision of children watching television. Perhaps the most notable statistic about television viewing is this. According to Nielson, children watch around 1,680 minutes of TV per week but only spend an average of 3.5 minutes per week engaged in ‘meaningful’ conversation with their parents. This same study even suggests that children in North America, who spend an about 900 hours each year in school – spend around 1500 hours in front of the television every year.

The statistics continue. And they essentially all say the same thing. Today the average person, adult or child, watches too much television. And that this said television watching has detrimental affects on our lives, such as introducing us to extreme violence and making us as a society lazy, and unhealthier than we were decades ago.

For many families, television sits at the epicenter of a debate. Today’s parents, who were most likely raised NOT watching television during dinner and who didn’t have televisions in the bedrooms – are now caught in a war of whether television viewing today is in excess or not. And since today so many more shows are offered, many daunting educational experiences – parents are giving into the television as an entertainment lifestyle. Truth is that movie companies and television network are multi-billion dollar industries and that it is fair to assume that media advances and entertainment are just part of our cultural norm today.

The truth is that if you feel TV is running and/or RUINING your life – you have to realize that you have the ultimate power to choose. Even though television shows and entertainment venues have become less regulated and more accepted, the ultimate responsibility falls back on the viewers. No one is forcing you to sit glued to the television on a day-to-day basis, and no one is forcing you to keep your television on during dinner. The choice has to be made, and each and every family has to take accountability for what they feel is an acceptable amount of television viewing.

Blaming the demise of our youth, the demise of a marriage, and things like obesity on TV viewing is an absurd scapegoat. It’s like blaming McDonalds for making people fat. Or blaming Coca Cola Company for diabetes. Or Mercedes Benz for speeding tickets. Each and every person has full throttle responsibility to choose and as of today, NO ONE has taken the choice away from anyone. The off button exists!

Here’s the thing. Society is constantly changing. Today, we are a very connected, information driven society. Every generation has faced its global changes and advancements and each and every one has been regarded as negative. This is quite simply how the world operates. Individuals and families have to make decisions based on their own best interests. And individuals have to be held self-accountable for the amount of time they sit watching the boob tube. It is easy to curse the networks and the creative talent for making shows so interesting that people do not want to leave their couch to take a walk. But the real responsibility lies on the person.

If you feel that television is ruining your life, or ruining your child’s life – the best advice is to replace the habit of TV watching with something else. Go in the backyard and play, or take a jog, or hop on the treadmill. Or sit down and schedule a family meeting every night so that your entire family still puts emphasis on spending quality time together. The choice is, and always has been YOURS.


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