A few years ago I encouraged a group of middle school students to participate in an experiment called “Turn Off The Television, Turn On Your Mind!”  It was definitely a tough sell.  The purpose of the experiment was to see how limiting television watching would make the students more productive in other areas.

The rules of this experiment weren’t to cut out television completely, but to limit it by at least one to two hours each day (even during the weekend).  That week, the students spent an extra hour after school each day, where they worked together on projects.  Some created comic books.  Some wrote plays.  Some sculpted with modeling clay.  Some planted a garden in the schoolyard.  Some started a fundraising campaign for a local homeless shelter.

In the end, everyone survived a week of limited television watching.  Most participants said that limiting the amount of television they watched made them think of other ways to spend their time.  Most of that time was spent learning, creating, doing, and interacting with others.  Mission accomplished.

According to news service The Daily Green, young people spend more than 28 hours a week watching television.  If you add time spent texting and playing video games, the number rises to about 55 hours per week.  That doesn’t leave much time for being active.  You are at an age where being active and getting physical exercise (at least 30 minutes a day) is very important.

Aside from physical exercise, I encourage you to keep an active mind.  Explore your creative side.  Come up with an idea for a new board game and design it.  Form a rock band (as the members of Faith, a group of teens I met last year in India did).  Start a community-service project with your friends.  Those are only a few suggestions.  The possibilities are unlimited.

I’m not saying that watching television is all bad.  There are certain shows that can educate and inspire you.  One show that comes to mind is MTV’s Made (definitely the best show on the network).  Made is a self-improvement reality series, which isn’t centered around fist-pumping, drinking, and fighting.  The series follows teens who have a goal and want to be “made” into things like singers, athletes, dancers, skateboarders, etc.  The teens are joined by a “Made Coach,” an expert in their chosen field, who tries to help them attain their goals over the course of several weeks.  Made documents the process the teens undergo as they try to achieve their goal.  It’s a great show.  If you’ve never seen Made, check your local listings and watch it.

So, should you only watch television to be educated?  I’m not saying that either.  There’s nothing wrong with being entertained.  Television can be a great source of entertainment and escape.  The Turner Classic Movies network ran a monster movie marathon once that I stayed up until three in the morning watching.  For a monster movie fanatic like me (and all the other fanatics up messaging on Twitter that night), it was a fun way to spend the time.  But on a normal day, without a monster movie marathon playing, that much television wouldn’t be the diet for me.

How did we start talking about diets all of a sudden?  Here comes the connection.  As you should watch what you eat, you should also watch what you put into your mind.  Just like with junk food, you need to maintain a television diet.  Think of it this way…enjoying your favorite junk food every once in a while is fine when balanced with a proper diet and exercise.  But having it every day without a proper diet and exercise is no good for you.

Some times the television needs to be turned off to give your mind the exercise it needs.  I am someone who enjoys being active.  From the time I wake up, which is usually around five in the morning, I’m already planning the hours ahead.  The many interests that I have and the projects that I’m working on keep me on the go.  Some days I never turn on the television at all because I don’t have time to.  At the end of a day, I like to feel that I’ve accomplished something.  My goal is for you to develop the same mindset.  Even if your accomplishment for today is cleaning your room, that’s a start.  Be proud of yourself.  Your mom will be happy too.

Expect Be Unlimited to keep your mind active.  The ideas, information, and inspiration offered here will give it the exercise it needs.

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