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TV addiction increasing among teens

Television influences the lives of millions of Americans. Typically, battles fought against television concern the content, and less often the actual amount of time Americans spend in front of the tube. Watching TV for hours may be one sign of a “TV addiction”, a hard to define but very real condition.

Substance addiction is defined as spending time using a substance, in this case, television. Symptoms of this condition include watching more TV than originally intended, and failing to reduce the amount of time spent watching.

In one study, cited on the “Kill your TV” homepage, children in junior high and high school averaged 23 hours per week watching TV.

In 1992 and 1999 polls, seven out of 10 teenagers said they spent too much time watching TV.

“I watch TV almost everyday,” Kevin Reed, ’05, said. “I wish I didn’t watch as much, but it can give you something to do when there isn’t anything else. It also gives you a good excuse to be lazy.”

Little evidence suggests that it is necessary to completely rid one’s life of television; slight TV viewing seems to come without serious negative effects.

However, heavy viewing seems to produce some side-effects. Heavy viewers sometimes report feeling more anxious while in a passive situation, like waiting in line. Those who would classify themselves as TV addicts are easily bored, distracted and often have short attention spans.

“TV steals creativity by homogenizing our culture,” Tom McEntee, English and drama teacher, said. “I see this in my drama class when people want to ?do it like they do on TV’.”

As a remedy to the potentially destructive trends observed in today’s children, the TV Turnoff Network, spearheaded by US Surgeon General Dr. David Satcher, has declared an annual “TV Turnoff Week.”

The week encourages families to not watch television for a designated week and instead engage in activities such as reading and conversation.

To some, the idea of foucusing more on family affairs is attractive.

When asked if he would willingly turn off TV for a week, McEntee responded, “Yes. Done deal. No TV. No cable. Saves money. I spend more valuable time with Julie, my wife.”

Many families who have participated in the annual TV Turnoff Week could not even complete the entire week.

Reports from some families who decided to turn off their TVs showed that they could not keep the TV off without verbal and physical fights. Even so, more families will try this year. An estimated 6.4 million people were expected to be a part of TV Turn-off Week.

“”Once again, thousands of organizers across the country and around the world are inspiring millions of children and adults to turn off TV and turn on life this week,”” Frank Vespe, TV-Turnoff Network Executive Director said. “”We commend them for making this week a true celebration of life.””

TV turn-off week began April 22nd and continued through the 28th.

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