April 24, 2001 11:00 pm

A national organization is poking its nose into the business of families and making a major recommendation.

Its urging that parents encourage their children to switch off the television set and spend more time outdoors, exercising.

The TV Turnoff Network reports that too many school-age children are overweight. These obese youngsters sometimes grow into adults with health problems such as heart disease, diabetes and other life-threatening ailments.

The reason why many children are overweight is because they are watching too much television, eating too many munchies and exercising very little. Children are watching an average of 1,000 hours of television per year, or about three hours per day.

The TV Turnoff Networks suggestion that sets be switched off is more easily said than done. Many parents find the television set to be an easy babysitter. Children might not be getting into much trouble if they are whiling away their hours in front of the tube.

But the summer months are approaching, and parents should think about how they can do things differently. They should begin to plan projects and activities for their children as a substitute for television shows. What can be done in the back yard, for example, to make play easier and more inviting?

Parents can scout around and see what kind of baseball leagues, swimming programs, day camps, 4-H or other youth activities are available to their children. They should be pro-active in encouraging their youngsters to get involved.

It might be unrealistic to turn off the television completely, but everyone regardless of age can think of activities that are superior to vegging out for several hours on the couch with a fattening snack in one hand and the remote control in the other. A decision to turn off the television regularly could make all the difference in the world.


Its one thing for parents to turn their children over to others for summertime activities. Its another for the parents to get personally involved in those activities as volunteers.

Scout groups, Camp Fire, youth sports leagues, day camps, the Salvation Army and other organizations sponsoring youth activities are often in great need of volunteers.

Parents, with a little extra time to share, should plan to become Little League coaches, umpires, day camp volunteers or 4-H club leaders.

The parent-volunteers will be rewarded in intangible ways. And little Johnny and Janie will be watching. Theyll be impressed to see Mom and Dad involved.