I replied that I think it is more of a question of quality, compared to quantity. Rather than focus on a number of hours, I think it more compelling to discuss how those hours are spent, and if that can be considered worthwhile.
I can't afford cable. I don't watch TV with any sort of scheduled regularity at all. I could probably figure out how to record shows digitally without paying fees, or muster enough patience to watch them online over a basic DSL connection, but… I don't.
So besides watching a lot of syndication, I do watch a lot of PBS. Although the news coverage is still often pitched in an entertaining way, they often go into more depth than the national broadcast and cable networks do. Marilyn vos Savant has said that the documentary medium has specific advantages in presentation compared to others, and I think she's right. I enjoy watching them, as well as other shows I find informative. Sometimes I find opportunities to discuss what I have watched in blog mediums like this one.
Speaking of the Internet, I have found some people rationalizing their 'Net time by stating that the interactivity is superior to loafing in front of the "idiot box". I find this really annoying. While it may be true that some TV viewers watch very passively, and may do so for escapism, there is nothing stopping them from using it as an educational supplement, or simply engaging in active discussion about the shows themselves.
Speaking of active discussion, I think it is important that parents take some time to discuss with their children what they see on TV. Now, some parents have raised concerns with the content of TV, whether it be considered profane, commercialistic, or is otherwise in conflict with their values and convictions. I have heard and read many state that they prefer to have their kids watch VHS tapes or DVD. I'm sure that works well in communicating to children what is permissible and accepted in one's own home. But the same dilemma remains, as it did when parents didn't have this technology and simply told kids 'you're not watching that program in our home'– what happens when they leave the home and see objectionable material elsewhere? I think it important for parents to discuss with children what they are viewing, and I think this would hold true for material that is accepted as well as material that is not.
Returning to the subject of the Internet, I think such discussion is equally important to the online medium. I understand that some parents and caretakers (including grandparents) are overwhelmed by modern advances in technology, but I nevertheless think it important that they are actively engaged in awareness of what the kids do online and how it compares and contrasts to what they consider important, relevant, and acceptable. I have seen far too many examples of people who remain ignorant of such. This seems a bit odd, given that the online world is much less regulated than radio and television broadcasting is.
So again, I think it far more important to be anxiously engaged in discussion about the content of a medium, as then consumption of it becomes a less idle activity.
Crossposted to LJ, itemid = 1042, security = public, mask = 0.