Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Online Time, Family Time

Just a quick thought for today. When I was a youngster, my Dad thought that I read too many comic books. He was the one who introduced me to them. At least the Disney ones with Mickey and Donald, Caspar and Little Lulu when I was in grade school. It was later on when I started buying them as a teenager that he thought they were going to ruin me. "Put that **** comic book down and ..." (fill in the blank). I couldn't wait until the next issues of The Amazing Spider Man, Marvel Team Up, The Spectacular Spider Man etc. You may (spidey) sense a theme there.

The same thing was said about television. In fact television was going to be the downfall of the family. Quite a few studies came out talking about the increase in television time and how it was getting worse. As a parent, I agree that television is a dangerous place for my kids to spend too much time in front of. But it isn't eroding my family by any means.

Now I am not advocating more TV time and to me Summer is outdoor time. But I also record favorite shows to specifically watch with my kids. The older ones and I like Chuck, Castle and Dollhouse, though I still wouldn't want to have them watch them on their own. My younger ones and I have recorded and watched "Who Wants to Be a Superhero" together when it was on. Some things come full circle.

Now of course it is the Internet and the Web that are eroding family time. And it is getting worse(cue scary music)! According to an article in USA Today, the Annenberg Center for the Digital Future is reporting a decrease in family time as the time spent online increases.

If it weren't bad enough that the kids are texting at the dinner table, now they are disappearing into the computer screen. Or the parents are. Or both.

What I found interesting about the reports on television viewing were the incredible number of hours per week that they would report that the TV was on. It painted a picture of people spending their lives in front of the set. According to an article in MarketingVox last year "the average time a US home used a TV set during the 2007-08 TV season was 8 hours and 18 minutes per day, a record high since Nielsen started measuring television in the 1950s."

That is a full time job of viewing! On average!!

Come on. Really? This is just my opinion, but how much of that is a TV set being left on in the background. How much of that is a household of five people with each watching one and one half hours of their own shows. If there are three televisions in the house turned to three different channels for one hour forty minutes each, does that account for eight hours in the day?

So now we need to add in the online time. Or perhaps it is being double counted. One year ago ITFacts reported that 20% of television viewing now occurs online. I am speculating that it has gone up since then. I know someone who downloaded the first two episodes of "The Middleman" onto her iPod. How does that count?

I think I am going to head down to the bookstore.

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