Sunday, April 26, 2009

Go Green, Ditch the Screens

In honor of Earth Week, last week millions of people around the world decided to put down their remote controls, shut off their laptops and make their way outside.

Today is the final day of Turn-off Week 2009, a worldwide event which lasted from April 20-26 and encouraged people to eliminate screen time in favor of a more rewarding, active life. Championed by the Center for Screen-Time Awareness (CSTA) and supported by national organizations like the American Medical Association, the American Academy of Pediatrics and the National Education Association, Turn-off Week attracted about 5 million participants in the USA alone last year, and now, even though the official week has come to an end, you can (and should) join the movement.

Too much screen-time is physically and mentally unhealthy, but in the United States and many other industrialized countries we keep watching more and more television. The statistics are alarming. According to the CSTA Web site, the average American household has 2.55 people and 2.73 televisions, making us a nation of more television screens than people.

photo by Aaron Escobar

Here are some more interesting facts that may surprise you.

•Number of 30-second commercials seen in a year by an average child: 20,000
•Number of minutes per week that parents spend in meaningful conversation with their children: 38.5
•Number of minutes per week that the average child watches television: 1,680
•Percentage of children ages 6-17 who have TV's in their bedrooms: 50
•Percentage of day care centers that use TV during a typical day: 70
•Hours per year the average American youth spends in school: 900 hours
•Hours per year the average American youth watches television: 1500
•Percentage of Americans that regularly watch television while eating dinner: 66

As a nation, we need to find some balance in our lives. By simply switching off the screens for a bit, we have more time to read, see friends and exercise. You’ll probably find yourself feeling more energetic and more productive.

Why not give it a try? Extend your celebration of Earth Week by making it an every day commitment to appreciate more green with less screens.

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