TV's a turn-off

TV's a turn-off
By Emma Joseph

TV viewers are switching off
MY weekly TV viewing schedule consists of a handful of soaps, some reality shows and a few American dramas thrown in for good measure.

Then there's the odd half-hour here and there spent flicking through the music channels, and breakfast just wouldn't be breakfast without GMTV.

Yet as I struggle to keep up with the ever-increasing number of new channels being offered, more and more people are opting to turn off their TVs in favour of a better life.

In fact, as many as five million people shunned their televisions during this year's TV-Turnoff Week, which ran from April 21 to 27, and organiser White Dot is urging viewers to use the opportunity to start a new, permanently TV-free life.

The TV-Turnoff was first proposed by Marie Winn in her 1977 book The Plug-in Drug. Non-profit group the TV Turnoff Project took up the idea and it became an international event, which has now been running for 10 years in the US, with White Dot organising its first British TV Turnoff in 1997.

While millions are signing up to White Dot's vision of a TV-free Britain, others have been switching off of their own accord.

Mother-of-two Vicki Skinner, from Boscombe, said: "I have an older son and I gave it up when he was about two - that was seven-and-a-half years ago.

"It was mainly the adverts.

"Children are so susceptible - if it says something in an advert they don't have the ability to judge it for themselves.

"My oldest son told me he was going to get a bank account at Halifax because they gave you extra, and he was upset because they didn't do tampons for boys, because the advert was so cool. I thought it was getting silly.

"It's a shame - because of the way it is, I've had to get rid of it completely. But I have bought some DVDs - the kids love it and there are no adverts. But even then, it's something to do as a treat - it's more special then.

"We are in the community doing things rather than stuck in the house."

It's out in the community that Vicki, 31, and her family do most of their socialising - with fellow non-TV watchers Lisa Northover and Julie White.

The trio are also involved in running the Boscombe Wholefood Co-operative together.

Lisa, a mum-of-four, hasn't had a television for the last 10 years, while Julie doesn't have one as she and her family live in a church community which chooses not to have a TV in the house.

"I just found you can sit in front of it and it just sucks you in," said Lisa, 30.

"I know if I had one, I would just watch it all the time. I think there's a lot to be gained from giving it up. You can have more of a life."

Lisa said not having a TV enabled her and her family to fully embrace community life.

"We're all out of the house quite a lot, out and about doing stuff. We're involved with a lot of community initiatives.

"I got rid of the TV when my eldest was still a baby and that made a big difference, because he had never had it at all.

"My daughter only recently knew what Barbie was, and she's seven. It's great because she was able to see it for what it was and didn't think it was that great, whereas if she'd seen all the hype from the adverts she would have thought it was amazing.

"And my kids have only just learnt what McDonald's is - they thought it was Old McDonald's and they thought it was something to do with a farm."

Mum-of-two Julie, 30, agreed her family was much better off without a TV.

"You find other pastimes," she said.

"I couldn't go back to watching TV now because I don't have the time. I like not having to arrange my living room around the TV, and mealtimes are really important - we've all got dining room tables and we all have dinner as a family.

"I talk a lot more to people as well - our community is about real people rather than fake people on the TV."

Vicki, Lisa and Julie are urging people to turn off their televisions, not just for a week, but for good, and to get out and enjoy life in their own communities.

"We've got the beach, we've got the park, we've got shops, just get outside and enjoy it," said Julie.

Lisa added: "Turn it off and live."

To find out more about White Dot and TV-Turnoff Week, visit


joolee said...

Blimey...I made it into Lisa's World....and with a bloody picture too!!

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