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Top 4 Reasons to Turn Off the TV

Updated on July 4, 2012

Growing up, I spent many hours in front of the TV. Between video games, movies, TV shows, sports, and mindless other junk – I was probably spending at least 3-4 hours per day staring at the tube. In college, my free time was more limited and TV time took away from time I should have spent studying. Since giving up TV and video games (aside from Colts games, March Madness, and the occasional movie) in 2008, my grades increased significantly along with my relationships, free time, and overall sense of happiness.

Cutting out television has been a life-changing event for me. Here are my top 4 reasons why you should consider cutting TV out of your own life:

4. Money

In 2010, the average spending on satellite and cable was roughly $75 per month. As a 25-year-old recent grad, let’s say you decided not to be average and committed to never spending a dime on cable or satellite. In 12 months, your $75 savings would come to $900 per year. If you invested your money in a Roth IRA at 7% annual interest, you would have saved $56,924 by age 50. Keep it in for 25 more years and you will have socked away $365,876.

Another 10? $732,168.

3. Health

Not only is watching TV bad for your financial health, but your literal health as well. Australian research has show than those who watch 6 or more hours of TV per day live an average of 4.8 years less than people who did not watch TV. Those who watched 3-4 hours of TV experienced a 65% increase in heart disease, an increased chance of Type 2 diabetes, and a shutdown of electrical impulses in your legs.

TV also has a dramatic impact on your waistline. Overeating and indulging in junk food usually comes when we’re sitting in front of a TV. And all that food doesn’t get burned up. Sitting down puts our bodies in rest mode, which causes them to burn approximately 50 less calories than by simply standing. It may not sound like much, but over the long-term lounging around for an additional 2 hours per day leads to 10 extra pounds per year (and that’s not even counting additional food intake). To make matters worse, those who reported watching high levels of TV also experienced 85% drop in the production of enzymes that break down fat.

2. Lower Levels of Happiness

The amount of TV people watch significantly increases their materialism, which has a significantly negative effect on their overall level of happiness.

Why is this so? We tend to view ourselves relative to the people around us. If our friends or neighbors have nice stuff that we don’t have, we see ourselves as less well-off than they are. TV replaces our friends and neighbors with multi-millionaire actors and athletes. When we see their flashy lifestyles, new clothes, and extravagant houses, we have a warped sense of "normal" and become less satisfied with our own lives and possessions.

1. Time

By far the biggest reason to give up TV is the amount of time it costs you. In 2010, the average American over the age of 15 spent 2.7 hours per day watching TV. The next most common activity was socializing, which only accounts for less than 3/4 of an hour per day.

To put that in perspective, if we take 2.7 hours and multiply it by 365 days per year, that comes to over 985 hours or 41 entire 24-hour days. Considering that most people sleep 8 hours per day and work 40 hours per week, that’s over 93 entire days wasted every single year. Think of all the things you are giving up by spending so much time staring at a black box.

So what are you going to do with 93 extra days this year? Why not start a side business, learn how to play an instrument, learn a new language, spend more time reading, exercise, meditate, start a blog, or spend more time with friends and family? Stop rotting away in front of the television and start chasing your dreams.


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