In Australia, 99.7 per cent of people own a TV, more than half have a broadband connection and many own a DVD or video player. And we use all these devices constantly. The Nielsen Online Internet and Technology Report found that Australians spent an average of 89.2 hours a week consuming media in 2010, which is almost 80 per cent of their waking hours.
Just as TV watching has been linked to higher rates of obesity and diabetes, this extra sedentary computer time is bad news for the nation’s health. Like kicking any habit, half the battle is acknowledging the problem and committing to change. Here are specific tips to help.
1. Give any extra TVs to charity. Allow your home one TV in a room dedicated to nothing but reading or TV watching. Donate the rest to a school or charitable organisation in your community. You’ll feel good, but it will be that much harder to veg out in front of the TV.
2. Turn on the TV only to watch a particular program. In other words, don’t just turn it on and go surfing for something worthwhile. Hours are quickly wasted, jumping from one show to the next, watching all and none at the same time. And, if your TV works without the remote, rather than surf, get up to change channels on the set.
3. Then, when you sit down to watch a particular program, set a timer or an alarm clock in another room for the length of the show. When it beeps, you’ll have to get out of your chair to turn it off, a signal to turn off the TV as well.
4. Set a rule that you can’t watch TV or surf the Internet if the sun is shining. Instead, you have to go for a walk, ride a bike or get some other kind of healthy physical activity for at least an hour before you can turn on the TV or PC. This rule also works well for your children or grandchildren.