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Legislators challenge children to turn off TV

The Baltimore Sun

State legislators from Howard County, District 9A, are challenging young people to spend a week without watching television.

The challenge, issued by Sen. Allan H. Kittleman and Dels. Gail H. Bates and Warren E. Miller, will coincide with National TV-Turnoff Week 2007, April 23-29.

The program is intended to make children and teenagers aware of the range of interesting activities available to them when television is not an option.

Children and their parents can visit a Web site (www.tvturnoff. org) sponsored by the TV-Turnoff Network, a nonprofit organization, for suggestions and book lists.

The Web site offers an organizers kit that includes stickers and educational materials.

"National TV-Turnoff Week is an excellent opportunity for families to take the time to enjoy each other," Kittleman said. "Children, especially, will be surprised to find out how many interesting things there are to occupy their time other than television."

A news release issued by Bates' office said researchers have found that on average, children in the United States likely will spend 1,023 hours watching television this year as opposed to 900 hours in school.

"It's disconcerting that over the course of one year, kids will spend more time in front of the TV while spending less hours in school," Miller said. "This program encourages less reliance on TV."

Television cuts into family and reading time, and contributes to passivity and obesity, according to the news release.

"Participating in mentally or physically stimulating activities broadens their development," Bates said. "Television is a passive activity."

Students who participate in the TV-Turnoff and successfully abstain for the week will be invited to celebrate at an event sponsored by the legislators and will receive a personalized citation describing their accomplishment.

School administrators, PTAs and parents who would like their children to participate can receive more information by calling the legislative offices of Bates, 410-841-3556, or Miller, 410-841-3582.

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