Americans leave their televisions on an average of 8 hours and 18 minutes per day, while sleeping only 6 hours and 40 minutes. As Ron Weasley (Harry Potter) says, we “need to get our priorities straight.”
This report of American TV habits follows on the heels of another report that suggests that happy people don’t watch TV. Here’s another example of why it’s important to interpret correlations carefully. Looking at a conclusion like this, it’s easy to say that watching TV makes you unhappy, or that being unhappy makes TV more attractive. We really don’t know. A third possibility, supported by the study, is that happy people don’t watch much TV because they’re out doing things that are correlated with happiness, like attending religious services and socializing with friends and loved ones.
I’m hoping that the 8 hours represents the habit of leaving the TV on as background noise, as opposed to intent watching. Research suggests that the American pattern (little sleep, lots of TV) is closely linked to another issue–obesity. These researchers found this pattern to be linked to higher blood pressure, obesity, and body fatness, independent of levels of physical activity.
So the bottom line is that we should turn off the TV and socialize! Well, I’ll make an exception this weekend for some terrific college football. USC–Notre Dame anyone?
If you really want to change this behavior, there are a surprising number of sites that tell you how to break the TV habit. And can we please get restaurants and coffee shops to take the TVs out? Who goes out to dinner to watch TV? That’s just sad.