Television watching is a passive behaviour with patterns similar to addiction. Wherever television becomes available for a number of hours a day it dominates the leisure time of children, even if the programmes are not such as they would be expected to find interesting; sitting for hours watching TV makes children fat and flabby. Advertising on TV encourages many unhealthy habits and expectations. Television may contribute to antisocial behaviour by triggering off acts of delinquency or reinforcing the importance of violent behaviour in solving human problems. It may teach a potential criminal a new skill.
It is estimated that, in any country where more than a few hours of television is available, an average child of between 6 and 16 years of age spends 500-1,000 hours a year watching television, namely 6,000-12,000 hours during 12 school years. The latter figure is not much different from the amount of time an average child spends at school during those same years. British children on average watch more hours of TV than they have school hours.
It is estimated that the average USA citizen watches the equivalent of 3,000 entire days (nearly 9 years) of television between the ages of 2 and 65: during this time an act of violence is screened every 14 minutes and a killing every 45 minutes. The 1983 daily average family viewing time in the USA was well over 7 hours. This is approximately a 55% increase from 1953, and a 39% increase between 1960 and 1993. Comparable figures are emerging in western Europe where colour, cable and international programming make this form of home entertainment increasingly popular.