How Much TV is Too Much?

I am slightly speechless at a statistic I read today – I thought surely there was no way that anyone really watched that much TV. How would anything else get done? Turns out, a lot of TV is watched while doing other things. That combined with the visual nature of TV and its short bursts of information are a large factor in our children having attention disorders, depression and suffering an inability to from and enjoy relationships, because relationships take time and attention. The amount of time spent watching TV in the typical American home is more time than most Americans spend doing any other singular activity throughout their day. Here’s what my research showed:

  • Americans watch on average four hours* of TV a day.
  • Sixty six percent of families watch TV while eating dinner.
  • Children ages 15-19 read for an average of five minutes per weekend day.
  • Parents spend three and a half minutes per week in meaningful conversation with their children.
  • The average American child spends 900 hours per year in school.
  • The average American child spends 1500 hours per year watching TV.
  • The average child has seen 8,000 murders on TV by the time they are 10 years old. By 18, that number is up to 40,000.
  • Forty -nine percent of Americans say they watch too much TV.

Perhaps we could start by watching one less hour a day and spending that time talking to our kinds and spouses.

- Jocelyn Broyles

*That’s 1,460 per year, which is 29,200 hours after 20 years. That means by about 23, the average adult has spent three and a third years watching TV.

Headline image © Aaron Escobar

Statistics are from 2007, 2008 and 2009 from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, California State University Northridge, Neilson Research on

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Carol S.
Carol S4 years ago

Daunting figures! TV isn't a babysitter. If you choose to have children pay attention to them!

Soul Doula
Luna D5 years ago

Three and a half minutes per week of meaningful conversation between parents and kids works out to a little more than 3 hours per year. Versus 1500 hours watching TV. How depressing.

Joe R.
Joe R6 years ago


Ellie Damann
.6 years ago

no amount is too much :)

Gabriela B.
Gabriela B7 years ago

Wow, comparing the time children spent in front of tv with time spent in school really says something. I can only imagine myself how much this ridiculous tv programs they are broadcasting now are staying in childrens heads. It's kinda creepy.

Christa Deanne
Oceana Ellingson7 years ago

This is really sad actually. I only had television for a few years growing up, but once my mom got rid of it all of a sudden my siblings and I were out playing outside everyday, being creative, actually having a childhood. Just three years ago my mom brought television back into the house. Now no one in my family really has conversations anymore, the tv is on during dinner, my little sister's whole childhood has been about watching tv and keeping up with the latest shows. I was excited when my mom said she was getting rid of cable again, but it was like a drug to her and my family and they were going through this sort of withdrawls from it where they didn't even know what to do with themselves anymore. So they got netflix on tv and watch it more than ever. I really do wish televisions were never invented. It's one thing we could do with out.

William Y.
William Y7 years ago

Well considering the garbage that passes for TV shows, these days, just about any is too much.

Maresa Marangoni
Maresa Marangoni7 years ago

Both In Italy and in England, the countries I have lived in the most, I have always found people commenting on the fact that in American TV shows and in movies children, in particular young ones,seem to be forever watching TV while lying on the floor very near to to the'box'... I have the impression that some of this 'problem' may also arise from the constant bombardment of news and fiction that makes us, as parents, afraid of letting our kids play freely outside... 'cause what if some horrible psycho snatches them, or if some drunk driver accidentally harms them, and so on. The News keep us scared, want us to be constatly scared, it seems, and the same goes for all those truly heart-wrenching story-lines in shows like 'Criminal Minds' and med dramas. Tv can be great, if used appropriately, both for education and for entertainment; perhaps it would be great if we could guide the producers to makeing news and shows that focus on less morbid aspects of normal living...


Now I can't get enough of discovery and the history channel. Other than those two networks, I could care less what else is on !

brigitte l
brigitte l7 years ago

Crazy statistics! That's just unbelievable..