Those who claim we have created a generation of TV-addicted sofa surfers have new statistics to gleefully reinforce their argument.

Apparently this generation of youngsters is more than capable of pulling off some impressive multi-tasking, but the common feature through just about everything they do is the television.

The latest study of 5-16 year-olds reveals that the TV accompanies them almost all day – before they go to school, when they return home, as they consume their evening meal and then when they go to bed at night. Four out of five children now have a TV set in their bedroom.

This is a depressingly high figure, mainly because of the diet of superficial, dumbed down and damaging dross that is served up on our TVs and which this generation is exposed to day in and day out.

Whilst trying desperately hard not to use the phrase “Of course, when I was their age…”, I cannot help but contrast this picture of modern youth with my own childhood.

We did watch TV, but spent much more time doing “stuff”. What immediately came to mind was Why Don’t You…?, the BBC TV programme that encouraged several generations to get off the sofa and do something else – or Why Don’t You Just Switch Off Your Television Set And Go and Do Something Less Boring Instead? to give it the full title.

That programme finally finished in 1995, having first hit our screens in 1973. Whereas I wouldn’t suggest Why Don’t You…? inspired millions to switch off the TV, it does suggest that priorities were different 30, 20 and even 10 years ago, whilst these days the trend appears to be on creating and retaining a captive audience.

This new study from Childwise suggests that the rise in TV viewing is mixed with increased internet use and has reinforced claims that this generation is becoming more solitary and sedentary in its day-to-day activities.

There does appear to be sufficient evidence that this generation is in dire need of some drastic help.

So is the solution one for our politicians to mull over in the vain hope of coming up with a plan of action?

I tend to think the answer lies much closer to home.

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4 responses »

  1. Doctor Drone says:

    You’re in the UK, so there are small cultural differences. I find that TV at its best tranquilizes when life’s stresses seem overwhelming. Perhaps I should reconcile myself to meltdown by panic attack, but I don’t think I’ve suffered cognitive impairment. There’s little doubt, however, that a public that didn’t have access to pervasive massive media, would be more literate and thoughtful. I’m not sure we derive substantial benefits from electronic media except for aforementioned tranquilizing effects.

  2. Nick Scott Donald says:

    I’m of that bloody-minded generation that would watch the beginning of “Why Don’t You…?” and then switch off the TV at the precise moment when told, thus not watching the programme.

    Yes, we all did it and we all thought we were clever.

    At the risk of sounding Reithian (which I suppose I am) I find myself less concerned with the fact that children are increasingly sedentary than with the state of contemporary programming… the average TV diet is now the equivalent of burgers, fries and about half a nutritious pea.

    Obesity of the mind, anyone?

  3. Paul Groves says:

    Thanks Nick,

    “Obesity of the mind” is spot on.

    So if they got Jamie Oliver to sort out school dinners and champion healthy eating for kids, who should they get to sort out their brains?

    Hmmm…how about Dick ‘n Dom?

  4. […] this refers to the youngsters who spend their free time glued to the TV beefing up their ignorance levels and adopting an […]

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