From WILL - The Public Square -

Barbara Linder on TV-Turnoff Week

My name is Barbara Linder. I am the Community Connections Coordinator, Urbana Middle School.

Students at Urbana Middle School are being encouraged to turn off their televisions for one week at the end of April. They're also learning how to be wiser about what they watch, with help from teachers, administrators and the College of Communications at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

The middle school's "TV-Turnoff Week" is set for April 25 to May 1, in conjunction with National TV-Turnoff Week (www.tvturnoff.org/week.htm), held annually since 1995. Television can cut into family time, harm children's ability to read and succeed in school, and contribute to unhealthy lifestyles and obesity, according to the Web site for the TV-Turnoff Network, which organizes the national event.

The week will begin April 25, from 6 to 8 p.m., with a "Family Fun Night" of games and activities in the Urbana Middle School gym, 1201 S. Vine St., Urbana. Included among the activities, organized with help from the Urbana Park District, will be a parent-child two-on-two basketball tournament and a kite-making clinic. Students and families from other schools also are welcome to attend.

In addition to turning the TV off and getting outside, families are being strongly encouraged to re-consider the value of placing a television in their child's bedroom. According to a Kaiser Family Foundation report, two-thirds of children in America now have a TV in their bedrooms. Why is this a bad idea? In the first place, kids with TVs in their bedrooms watch 90 minutes more a day than children without a TV in their room. According to the facts, the more kids watch TV, the more likely they are to be overweight. In addition, recent research shows that those children get worse grades in school, engage in fewer activities that don't involve electronic media, have less family interaction and read fewer books.

Having a TV in their bedroom is also linked to children having sleep problems. The TV is a stranger in your child's bedroom, influencing, guiding, directing and causing the Great Family Disconnect. There is no good reason not to get it our of there now!

For more information about Family Fun Night or about TV Turn-Off Week contact Barbara Linder, 337-0853, blinder@usd116.org.