Science Teaching Series

Internet Resources

I. Developing Scientific Literacy

II. Developing Scientific Reasoning

III. Developing Scientific Understanding

IV. Developing Scientific Problem Solving

V. Developing Scientific Research Skills

VI. Resources for Teaching Science

Television & Health

Television Statistics
According to the A.C. Nielsen Co., the average American watches more than 4 hours of TV each day (or 28 hours/week, or 2 months of nonstop TV-watching per year). In a 65-year life, that person will have spent 9 years glued to the tube.
Percentage of households that possess at least one television: 99
Number of TV sets in the average U.S. household: 2.24
Percentage of U.S. homes with three or more TV sets: 66
Number of hours per day that TV is on in an average U.S. home: 6 hours, 47 minutes
Percentage of Americans that regularly watch television while eating dinner: 66
Number of hours of TV watched annually by Americans: 250 billion
Value of that time assuming an average wage of S5/hour: S1.25 trillion
Percentage of Americans who pay for cable TV: 56
Number of videos rented daily in the U.S.: 6 million
Number of public library items checked out daily: 3 million
Percentage of Americans who say they watch too much TV: 49
Approximate number of studies examining TV's effects on children: 4,000
Number of minutes per week that parents spend in meaningful
conversation with their children: 3.5
Number of minutes per week that the average child watches television: 1,680
Percentage of day care centers that use TV during a typical day: 70
Percentage of parents who would like to limit their children's TV watching: 73
Percentage of 4-6 year-olds who, when asked to choose between watching TV
and spending time with their fathers, preferred television: 54
Hours per year the average American youth spends in school: 900 hours
Hours per year the average American youth watches television: 1500
Number of murders seen on TV by the time an average child finishes elementary school: 8,000
Number of violent acts seen on TV by age 18: 200,000
Percentage of Americans who believe TV violence helps precipitate real life mayhem: 79
Number of 30-second TV commercials seen in a year by an average child: 20,000
Number of TV commercials seen by the average person by age 65: 2 million
Percentage of survey participants (1993) who said that TV commercials
aimed at children make them too materialistic: 92
Rank of food products/fast-food restaurants among TV advertisements to kids: 1
Total spending by 100 leading TV advertisers in 1993: $15 billion
Percentage of local TV news broadcast time devoted to advertising: 30
Percentage devoted to stories about crime, disaster and war: 53.8
Percentage devoted to public service announcements: 0.7
Percentage of Americans who can name The Three Stooges: 59
Percentage who can name at least three justices of the U.S. Supreme Court: 17
Compiled by TV-Free America
1322 18th Street, NW
Washington, DC 20036

Influence of Television
For decades, research and studies have demonstrated that heavy television-viewing may lead to serious health consequences. Now the American medical community, which has long-voiced its concerns about the nation's epidemic of violence, TV addiction and the passive, sedentary nature of TV-watching, is taking a more activist stance, demonstrated by its endorsement of National TV-Turnoff Week.
The average child will watch 8,000 murders on TV before finishing elementary school. By age eighteen, the average American has seen 200,000 acts of violence on TV, including 40,000 murders. At a meeting in Nashville, TN last July, Dr. John Nelson of the American Medical Association (an endorser of National TV-Turnoff Week) said that if 2,888 out of 3,000 studies show that TV violence is a casual factor in real-life mayhem, "it's a public health problem." The American Psychiatric Association addressed this problem in its endorsement of National TV-Turnoff Week, stating, "We have had a long-standing concern with the impact of television on behavior, especially among children."
Millions of Americans are so hooked on television that they fit the criteria for substance abuse as defined in the official psychiatric manual, according to Rutgers University psychologist and TV-Free America board member Robert Kubey. Heavy TV viewers exhibit five dependency symptoms--two more than necessary to arrive at a clinical diagnosis of substance abuse. These include: 1) using TV as a sedative; 2) indiscriminate viewing; 3) feeling loss of control while viewing; 4) feeling angry with oneself for watching too much; 5) inability to stop watching; and 6) feeling miserable when kept from watching.
Violence and addiction are not the only TV-related health problems. A National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey released in October 1995 found 4.7 million children between the ages of 6-17 (11% of this age group) to be severely overweight, more than twice the rate during the 1960's. The main culprits: inactivity (these same children average more than 22 hours of television-viewing a week) and a high-calorie diet. A 1991 study showed that there were an average of 200 junk food ads in four hours of children's Saturday morning cartoons.
According to William H. Deitz, pediatrician and prominent obesity expert at Tufts University School of Medicine, "The easiest way to reduce inactivity is to turn off the TV set. Almost anything else uses more energy than watching TV."
Children are not the only Americans suffering from weight problems; one-third of American adults are overweight. According to an American Journal of Public Health study, an adult who watches three hours of TV a day is far more likely to be obese than an adult who watches less than one hour.
Sometimes the problem is not too much weight; it's too little. Seventy-five percent of American women believe they are too fat, an image problem that often leads to bulimia or anorexia. Sound strange? Not when one takes into account that female models and actresses are twenty-three percent thinner than the average woman and thinner than ninety-five percent of the female population.