<eng>The National TV-Turnoff Week Update

The Anarchives (tao@lglobal.com)
Thu, 4 Apr 1996 13:46:05 +0000 (GMT)

Date: Tue, 2 Apr 1996 13:59:23 -0500 (EST)
From: Monte Burke <mburke@essential.org>

Just a short update from the frontlines...

The National TV-Turnoff Week has picked up a tremendous head of steam.
Three million people are expected to turn off their TVs for the seven-day
period (April 24-30). Seven U.S. governors have endorsed the event (ME,
MD, AR, NM, MA, NC, and VT). The governors of Maine, Vermont and North
Carolina have sent our posters to every school and library in their
respective states...Whew. Things are pretty busy here at the office.

Once again, if anyone would like the "Organizer's Kit," please send in a
written request with a $5 donation to the address below my name. If
anyone would like an e-mail version, I can zap it to them. Let me know...

In the meantime, enjoy this article from last year's Turnoff..

Living Free, without TV

Linda Weltner, The Boston Globe, April 20, 1995

Let me make sure I'm talking to the right person.
You have several television sets in your home, but you
consider yourself a moderate watcher. Your children may watch a
bit too much TV, but they do fine in school and have plenty of
friend so you're not worried. The set goes on before school and
you often watch TV when you prepare dinner, but it's background
noise mostly, you figure, just a friendly presence in the house.
It can be annoying to come home and not even get a hello from
kids glued to the set, but actually, you get private time that
you really need after a long day.
If your children are older, they have sets in their
bedrooms. You don't really keep tabs on what they watch, but
they're good kids. How much harm can it do them? You notice
that there is less friction in day-to-day interactions and TV-watching tends to
keep sibling rivalry at a minimum. In some
ways it contributes to your getting along so well as a family.
To sum up, as far as you're concerned TV is a relaxing and
nondemanding way to spend down time, one option among many.
So what's my complaint? You're lying to yourself.
If you're anything like I used to be, TV isn't optional.
You need it because silence makes you uneasy, or because your
mind is full of negative thoughts you want to avoid. You need it
because you're too tired to cope with others' demands all the
time, or because it's too upsetting to look closely at how things
have turned out. You need it to absorb your anger, or to
distract you from a myriad of fears. You need it because you
can't get along without a buffer between you and your life.
Take a good look at your kids. Do they have hobbies, or
passionate interests, or dreams? As chieftains of the remote
control, do they have trouble negotiating or compromising? Have
they lost the art of amusing themselves? In the average family,
kids talk to their parents about things that really matter to
them less than six minutes a day. On that same day, they absorb
television values for four hours.
You're addicted and they're addicted, whether you binge on
the weekends, or have a daily habit, or just can't seem to turn
the set off between one program and the next.
Please, no excuses and no explanations. If you want to
prove something wrong, you can. Just turn off the TV and keep it
off for a week.
No news. No sports. No videos. No "Sesame Street." No
"Masterpiece Theatre." No taping of shows you are missing. No
predictable prepackaged entertainment. For one week, stop
watching and start living.
National TV-Turnoff Week begins on Monday, so you have three
days to get ready. Take out the Monopoly game, shuffle a deck of
cards, purchase finger paints, construction paper and clay. Fill
your bike tires with air and plan a picnic dinner. Teach your
kids how to knit, or embroider or weave pot holders on those red
metal looms. Buy a book called, "365 TV-Free Activities You can
do with Your Child," by Steve and Ruth Bennett. Plant a garden.
Plan a sleep-over and let the kids make taffy, pretzels or pizza.
Read "Parents Who Love Reading, Kids Who Don't," by Mary
Leonhart. Visit the library. Fill the house with comic books,
Nancy Drew mysteries or popular books too thrilling to put down.
(A book doesn't have to be a classic to be better than TV.) Get
a star map and show your children the constellations. Help them
make a model of the solar system from paper-mache. Prepare an
aquarium and adopt some fish. Invite the neighbors to a potluck
dinner. Pull out some old albums and reminisce, or organize the
piles of pictures you have.
Buy small spiral notebooks and have family members keep a
journal, tracking the feelings elicited by not watching TV. Then
have a family meeting and compare notes. Call Jack Borden, the
president of For Spacious Skies, at (508)-249-4323, and let him
send you ways to celebrate the fact that next week is also
National Sky Awareness Week. Ask your kids what they'd like to
do most and do it with them.
Forgetting TV isn't a punishment, and it isn't really a
test. It's an opportunity to reacquaint yourself with a more
interactive kind of family life. It's a chance to discover the
many satisfying ways to spend time that exist in your own life.
It's a break, offering time to reflect.
Ditch that clicker for seven days.
Take control. I promise, you'll be less remote.

Linda Weltner is a free-lance writer. Her column appears each
week in At Home.

Monte Burke email: mburke@essential.org
TV-Free America
1322 18th Street, NW #300
Washington, DC 20036