From age 1 to 24 the average person loses about 25,349 hours of development time, passively watching. That estimate is the lowest, most conservative estimate, “the average 8- to 10-year-old spends nearly 8 hours a day with a variety of different media, and older children and teenagers spend >11 hours per day. Presence of a television set in a child’s bedroom increases these figures even more, and 71% of children and teenagers report having a TV in their bedroom.”
“Young people now spend more time with media than they do in school—it is the leading activity for children and teenagers other than sleeping.” That’s more than 60,000 hours of video time by age 21.
Even the most conservative figure of 25,349 hours means that for the majority of waking hours growing up, brain stagnation replaces brain development in every area of life. The more time spent on a talent or skill, the better you are at it. The less time spent on it, the worse you are at it. Here are some areas everyone is not as good at, because of watching 25,000 to 60,000 hours of TV by adulthood:
- math, calculations
- carefulness, focus
- detailed work for long periods of time
- following logical chains of reasoning
- grasping deep, complex ideas
- vocabulary, which is linked to clear thinking
- subtleties in meanings and relations
- conversational skills
- comfort level around people, social maturity
- handling complicated life situations
- emotional understanding, emotional maturity
- managing anger, confrontation, handling conflict constructively
- reliability, responsibility, trustworthiness, self-governance
- moral thinking, personal values, ethics
- planning and following through in ways that produce fulfillment
- deeper processes such as wisdom, insight, intuition
- recognizing logical fallacies in ads, arguments, and speeches (instead of being easily swayed by them)
- orienting, mental mapping, following complicated directions
- three-dimensional visual perception
- physical condition, reflexes, coordination
Spread that over 350 million people, take away 25,349 hours of real-life activity from every person, replace it with passive TV-viewing. Now every part of development from every activity that every person would have done during those 25,349 hours, is missing from 350 million people. The breadth and depth of our deficiencies as individuals and as a society are shocking. People didn’t see it happening, because they were watching TV.
What did people from the beginning of human history up to about 1960 do with these extra 25,349 hours of development from age 1 to 24?
They spent time developing all of those skills that our society has now lost. That’s why people from the beginning of human history until the mid-twentieth century had better social skills, conflict skills, camaraderie, stronger families, stronger communities. People spent every minute of every day in the real world, their whole life—working, playing, focusing on something, generating thoughts. For 100,000 years, for 100 percent of the population, zero time with neurotransmitters stifled and disengaged, which is what happens watching TV.
In the mid-twentieth century, active lifestyles collapsed into passive image consumption. Lost brain activity made the brain atrophy. The consequences are far reaching, which is made very clear in my book Call of the Active Mind (with references to supporting data).
The lost 25,349 hours are just up to age 24. From age 24 on, thousands upon thousands more hours lost only makes it worse for you and for society. It’s a mathematical certainty—take away 25,349 hours from life-skills from every person by age 24, you get a population with 25,349 hours less development in life-skills by age 24. If you’ve lived 30 or more years and paid attention, you have probably noticed.
“We were the leopards, the lions, those who take our place will be jackals, hyenas.”
— Giuseppe Tomasi di Lampedusa, Il Gattopardo
I will continue posting excerpts and paraphrases from my book. To get the whole picture, please purchase your own copy.
From my book
Call of the Active Mind
©Copyright Robert Rose-Coutré 2009, 2011, 2012, 2014, 2016