Kill Your Television?

A couple more wheat pastes… These two were directly next to each other in West Oakland, but I’m not clear if they were produced by the same artist, or are supposed to relate to each other in some way. Maybe you’re supposed to practice a little mindful meditation after you’ve turned off the tube.

Whatever the case, they’re both pretty interesting…

television statistics, kill your television, television violence

Here is the text again (reformatted by me for ease of reading)…

  • 99 percent of American households possess at least one television.
  • There are 2.24 TV sets in the average U.S. household.
  • 66 percent of U.S. homes contain three or more TV sets.
  • The average TV is on for 6 hours, 47 minutes per day.
  • 66 percent of Americans watch television while eating.
  • The American population watches 250 billion hours worth of TV annually.
  • The value of that time assuming a wage of $5/hour: $1.25 trillion.
  • 56 percent of Americans pay for cable.
  • 49 percent of Americans say they watch too much television.
  • The average American child watches 1,680 minutes of TV per week.
  • 70 percent of day care centers utilize the television in their facilities.
  • 54 percent of children ages 4-6 chose watching television instead of spending time with their parents.
  • The average American youth spends 1500 hours watching television annually.
  • The average American youth spends 900 hours in school annually.
  • U.S. children are exposed to 8000 acts of violence on the television by the time they finish elementary school.
  • The number of violent acts seen on television by the age of 18: 200,000.
  • 79 percent of Americans believe TV violence helps precipitate real life mayhem.
  • 20,000 thirty-second commercials are seen by the average child.
  • The average 65 year old views 2 million or more commercials.
  • 53.8 percent of news stories are devoted to advertising crime, disaster, and war.
  • ?? percent is devoted to public service announcements.

A few comments…

When I was a kid I watched a lot of television. Too much television.  My family was probably quite representative of some of these statistics.  I watched Spiderman cartoons before school in the morning.  I watched Scooby Doo, The Brady Bunch, Bugs Bunny, and The Little Rascals after school.  We watched the CBS Evening News with Walter Cronkite every night during dinner, our plates perched on TV trays positioned in front of the living room couch.  We watched prime time TV most evenings.  I remember Wednesdays were Eight is Enough.  Fridays were The Love Boat and Fantasy Island.  Lame, I know. 

But it wasn’t all lame. There were some great shows, and certainly some that exposed me to characters and experiences I would know little about, living in white-middle-class suburbia – like The Jeffersons, Welcome Back Kotter, Good Times, and The White ShadowI loved these shows.

And television wasn’t nearly as violent as it is today.  The most violent shows I can think of were Starsky & Hutch and Charlie’s Angels, both rather tame by today’s standards. You could even argue the Angels were empowering for us young girls – to see those women kickin’ ass, takin’ names, and always baggin’ the bad guys. 

Could we have been spending our time more productively? Certainly.

But at this point in my life (and actually for most of my adulthood), I watch fewer than 5 hours of television a week… sometimes none at all.  Not bad for a kid raised on the boob tube.

I suppose you could argue that I’ll never know what untapped potential in myself was squelched due to an overdose of 70’s sitcoms.  But I’m ok with that.  In spite of it all, I think I turned out pretty well. 

I’m not saying I don’t agree with the larger message of the piece. I agree we’d all be a lot better off if folks spent a bit more time engaging in more interactive pursuits. I’m just sayin’, it’s not all bad.

buddha, doghead buddha, west oakland wheat paste

And now… I think I’ll get off this computer and do a little yoga…


1 thought on “Kill Your Television?

  1. Wren

    Darn it! I wish the artist had left some citation. I’m doing a speech on this for my public speaking class, and this is great information… but I can’t use it if I can’t cite it. Blargh.

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