Barbara Brock is interested in television, but not for its entertainment value. The Eastern Washington professor of Physical Education and recreation recently received a $400 grant to aid in her research of how people spend their leisure time; specifically dealing with why those who don’t watch television don’t. The Northwest Institute for Advanced Study through the EWU grant offices gave Brock the mini-grant to pay for basic materials such as paper and postage.
“When I realized the population for my survey grew from 20 to 500, I knew I needed some funding for paper, postage and phone bills,” said Brock. “thin I contacted our grants department and they suggested this small grant.”
One week later, she was ready to proceed.
Brock, who has been a teacher of recreation and leisure services around the U.S. and Australia for nearly 20 years, wanted to find TV-free families and study their lives.
“When I learned that 98 percent of our population spends 40 percent of their leisure time watching television, I wondered: What do those other 2 percent do?”
She found that most of the subjects chose to abstain from watching not because of any religious or political motivation, but because they simply didn’t have time to waste.
“These families have simply found a way t carve out a bit more time for a meaningful family and marriage in the face of a busy life,” Brock said.
According to her research, those families who don’t watch are happier. Eighty percent of couples feel their marriages are stronger and 70 percent feel their kids get along better. Also, 85 percent do not regret their decision to live TV-free, for several reasons. One example is that families are happy to miss out on the commercialism and advertising that television fosters.
Brock’s study found an especially positive effect in the children of TV-free families. She found that most children of such families are consistently more physically active, read more, get higher grades and are more creative.
The study has received nationwide recognition. Time and Parents Magazines both reviewed the study, and Brock has even landed a spot on TV’s Today Show on January 2.
Brock plans to conduct another nationwide study with faculty from Art, Psychology, Health and recreation into contrasting the habits and lifestyles of TV viewers depending on their level of viewing. She plans to look at effects of “TV Turnoff: as treatment for such medical conditions as Attention Deficit Disorder, Alzheimer’s and other health issues. Brock also has another project in the works with Housekeeping magazine to look at families who do a “Cold Turkey Turnoff” for 12 weeks. Brock also plans to write a book based on her research and findings.