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Many people in the United States spend most of their free time watching television. Certainly, there are many worthwhile programs on television, including news, educational programs for children, programs on current social problems, plays, movies, concerts, and so on. Nevertheless, perhaps people should not be spending so much of their time in front of the TV. Mr. Mayer imagines what we might do if we were forced to find other activities.
Turning off TV: a Quiet Hour
I would like to propose that for sixty to ninety minutes each evening, right after the early evening news, all television broadcasting in the United States be prohibited by law.
Let us take a serious, reasonable look at what the results be if such a proposal were accepted. Families might use the time for a real family hour. Without the distraction of TV, they might sit around together after dinner and actually talk to one another. It is well known that many of our problems -- everything, in fact, from the generation gap to the high divorce rate to some forms of mental illness -- are caused at least in part by failure to communicate. We do not tell each other what is disturbing us. The result is emotional difficulty of one kind or another. By using the quiet family hour to discuss our problems, we might get to know each other better, and to like each other better.
On evenings when such talk is unnecessary, families could rediscover more active pastimes. Freed from TV, forced to find their own activities, they might take a ride together to watch the sunset. Or they might take a walk together (remember feet?) and see the neighborhood with fresh, new eyes.
With free time and no TV, children and adults might rediscover reading. There is more entertainment in a good book than in a month of typical TV programming. Educators report that the generation growing up with television can barely write an English sentence, even at the college level. Writing is often learned from reading. A more literate new generation could be a product of the quiet hour.
A different form of reading might also be done, as it was in the past: reading aloud. Few pastimes bring a family closer together than gathering around and listening to mother or father read a good story. The quiet hour could become the story hour. When the quiet hour ends, the TV networks might even be forced to come up with better shows in order to get us back from our newly discovered activities.
At first glance, the idea of an hour without TV seems radical. What will parents do without the electronic baby-sitter? How will we spend the time? But it is not radical at all. It has been only twenty-five years since television came to control American free time. Those of us thirty-five and older can remember childhoods without television, spent partly with radio -- which at least involved the listener's imagination -- but also with reading, learning, talking, playing games, inventing new activities. It wasn't that difficult. Honest. The truth is we had a ball.
a. good enough for the time or effort needed; valuable 值得花时间（或精力）的；有价值的
n. performance on radio or television 节目
a. of or for education; providing education or information 教育的；有教育意义的
a. of the present time 当前的
a. of or in society 社会的
n. film that one sees at a cinema 电影
conj. but; however 然而，不过
vt. suggest 建议
n. the action of sending out sound (or images) by radio (or television) 广播
v & n. forbid by law 禁止
vt. suggestion 提议，建议
n. in actual fact, really 实际上
n. all the people about the same age （一）代
n. an empty space between two things or two parts of a thing; a wide difference of opinion, character, or the like 缺口，间隙；分歧，隔阂
n. end of a marriage by law 离婚
a. of the mind 精神的；思想上的
vi. share or exchange opinions, ideas, etc. 交流意见，思想等
vt. make (sb.) worried 使烦恼
n. anything done to pass time pleasantly 消遣，娱乐
n. the going down of the sun; the time when the sun goes down 日落（时分）
n. the area around a point or place 邻近地区；地段
n. a person whose profession is education 教育家
ad. hardly 仅仅，勉强；几乎没有
a. able to read and write 能读写的；有文化的
n. sth. made or grown 产品
n. quick look 一瞥；扫视
a. extreme; very different 激进的
n. someone who looks after a child when the parents are away for a short time （代人临时）照看婴儿
n. time when one is a child 童年
ad. not completely; in some degree 部分地；在一定程度上
vt. have as a part or result （必须）包括
n. the ability to imagine 想象力
n. the gaining of knowledge or skill through studying; knowledge or skill gained through studying 学习；学问，知识
vt. produce (sth.) for the first time 发明
PHRASES & EXPRESSIONS
failure of the younger and older generations to communicate and understand one another 代沟
in some degree; partly 在一定程度上；部分地
change from a child to a man or a woman 成长，长大
cause to meet 使相聚
come up with
think of; produce 想出；提出
at first glance
when first seen or thought about 乍一看；最初考虑时
have a ball
(sl.) enjoy oneself, have a very good time 玩得开心
the United States