TV shows provide escape


By Celina Wu
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Every Thursday night at 9 p.m., junior Ellie Taff can be found watching her favorite show on television. Taff regularly sits down each week with her family to watch a new 30-minute segment of “The Office,” a show based on a popular British series with the same name that follows the daily lives of the employees who work at the Dunder Mifflin Paper Company. Taff said that she got hooked on the show after her parents started to watch and got her to start watching as well. Now, Taff said “The Office” has become somewhat of an obsession of hers.

Taff said, “I’m obsessed with ‘The Office’ because it’s really funny. The situations on the show are hilarious, especially when they’re awkward situations. ‘The Office’ has made my Thursday nights so much better.”

Many students, like Taff, have their preferred show that they regularly tune into when it airs on television. For some, sitting down to watch television shows in the evenings during weeknights is part of a routine. But according to counselor Stephanie Benson, watching television can be a great diversion for students. When students view television programs in more casual manners rather than a fixation, it can be a great way to relax by taking them away from the concerns of their own lives for a short time, she said. Additionally, some shows may even have a positive influence on its viewers.

According to an article from, a Web site created by The Nemours Foundation’s Center for Children’s Health Media and supplies doctor-approved health information, the average child spends approximately 1,023 hours a year watching television, which equates to about four hours of television per day. The article mentions that the American Academy of Pediatrics states that one or two hours of quality programming is an adequate amount of time for television each day. In terms of all Americans and how much TV they watch, people in the United States tune in to approximately 2.6 hours of TV a day, or about 2.6 hours worth.

As some students may focus more on television shows than extracurricular activities, this article also provides tips for ways to improve television viewing habits so that it is more practical and less detrimental. It also includes suggestions on recording shows or saving television time for the weekends, so that during the weekdays, there will be more time available to spend on schoolwork, extracurricular activities or family.

With countless shows of diverse genres available that are on the air almost every night of the week, students can find a show, or multiple ones, that are suited to their individual tastes. Some television programs are so popular that they can become a fixation for students.

Regarding the reason as to why students find certain shows so appealing, Benson said, “I think it is just like any other extracurricular activity. It gives students an escape from their everyday lives. I think it gives them a fictitious way to relate to life.”

Many television shows also incorporate some more serious issues into their programs by having the characters deal with the situations. Benson said that when a show does this, student viewers can benefit from it. She said, “When shows make conscious efforts, they can grapple with real life situations, such as drugs or eating disorders. When these situations are well done and carefully portrayed in the show, it can reassure students that they are not alone in those issues.”

Junior Amanda Finin is someone who has experienced the inspiration that reality shows can offer audiences. She said that after she watched “Dancing with the Stars” and “So You Think You Can Dance,” two shows she said she is obsessed with, she thought it looked interesting, so she took up dance as a real extracurricular activity.

Furthermore, she said, “When it comes to ‘So You Think You Can Dance’ it inspires me. When I watch the show, I know what I have to strive for when I try out for it one day. Also if I’m working on routines or something, and I see a move on the show that I think was interesting, then I usually try and use that.”

Although there is an extreme, most students know to differentiate between their own lives and those of the characters’ in shows. “Most casual viewers just watch television shows for amusement,” Benson said. “I think for most students, watching these shows is just a release for them during down time, and they know that it is solely for entertainment. Becoming absorbed in a character’s life for a half hour or hour show, the student can have a mental break from the daily stressors of teenage life.”


The way Americans spend their leisure time in minutes during an average day in 2006

  • Watching TV: 156 minutes
  • Socializing and communicating: 46 minutes
  • Reading: 22 minutes
  • Playing games, computer: 19 minutes
  • Sports, recreation, exercise: 17 minutes
  • Relaxing and thinking: 17 minutes
  • Other: 29 minutes