Friday, October 15, 2010

Home entertainment

For the past few years, as our local movie stores have slowly closed, one-by-one, I have resisted the seemingly ubiquitous Netflix subscription. But after eight days of bed rest, my resolve is fading. Yet there is still something holding me back. Am I just an old-fashioned stick-in-the-mud, or are there others like me out there who still cling to NPR and their local library cards?

Apparently, not many. Not surprisingly, TV's are heavily penetrant in U.S. households. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, in 2009 there were about 114.9 million households (and a total population of 307 million), and according to the Nielsen ratings, there were 114.9 million TV-viewing households in the same year (with an average of 2.2 TV's per home).

The more depressing statistics follow: the average American watches more than 4 hours of TV per day; TV's are turned on for an average of nearly 7 hours per day; and 66% of U.S. families admit to watching TV regularly during dinner. So much for conversation! Video use shows similar trends, with daily video rentals doubling the number of books checked out at public libraries across the country. As for NPR, well, the frequency of fund-raising drives makes me think that the number of Americans listening to radio (or at least the money going to fund radio programs) is diminishing rapidly as well.

In the interest of preserving my safety from atop such a high horse, I will forgo more statistics (including those pertaining to infants in children). Needless to say, there are many ways in which to spend one's leisure time, and I don't begrudge the temptation to "veg" from time to time. In fact I am being forced into it full time for the next few months. But I hope that by the end of my stint on bed rest, I can at least say that I've read as many books as watched videos, I've avoided the temptation to tune in to Oprah every day of the week, and I've followed my husband's good example of always reaching for the newspaper before the remote control.

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