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Old 06-23-2019, 07:33 AM   #1
issybird
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Seniors driving increase in television time at the expense of reading

According to the Washington Post, the over-65 crowd is most responsible - and most at risk - from statistics that show that reading time is dropping as television time continues to climb, with implications for their well-being.

I'm not part of the demographic examined here; I also don't watch television at all, no doubt a major reason I read far more than the 15 minutes per day average for all Americans. Unfortunately the verbiage is mushy; what exactly do they mean by screentime? I do wish that I'd get caught up in the abyss that is the internet somewhat less, since it's mostly at the expense of reading time. I always feel somewhat disgruntled once I finish chasing a particular rabbit, because why?

But for all I think the article should have been better, I tend to agree with its premise and wonder why seniors don't read? They're the last lingering cohort of those who grew up reading for pleasure, from back in the days when there were only three networks and limited options. Especially now with options for digital reading which make reading accessible to those whose physical limitations might have prevented them from reading with enjoyment, or reading at all.
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Old 06-23-2019, 08:28 AM   #2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by issybird View Post
But for all I think the article should have been better, I tend to agree with its premise and wonder why seniors don't read?
The obvious answer is that it has to do with the internet competing for time.

Here's an example of how it is hard to draw conclusions: without the internet, it might be that right now I'd be reading a letter from our son in Germany, or writing back. Instead I'm writing this to you, in a PC browser window, and will likely video chat with David later today.

Less obvious, and highly dependent on how the time use study is conducted: A lot of medical care, in the U.S., winds up being focused in the last several years of life. My father died last year at age 93. Until I guess 91, he was a book reader (including, for a few years, on a basic Kindle). The last two or three years, perhaps due to moderate cognitive decline, he switched to TV. Some people would say that aggressive medical care extended his life. I'm not sure, but I know he had operations he didn't really recover from, and suspect this was a factor in not having the capacity to read. Maybe from 2003 to 2018 there were relevant changes in end of life medical care.

Conceivably, this could explain some of the difference, in the Washington Post "Seniors watching more TV" chart, between men and women. Elderly men are much more likely to have cardio-vascular operations.

A lot depends on the details of how people really respond to the time use study. If it is asks for book reading, someone who reads newspapers and personal letters daily (both in great decline over the 2003 - 2018 period) might still decide to answer yes, I read.

Last edited by SteveEisenberg; 06-23-2019 at 08:36 AM.
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Old 06-23-2019, 09:47 AM   #3
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I think that Steve has a lot of good points. I saw the same thing occur with my father, who died earlier this year at the age of 89. Up until his last year or so, he was very active physically and most of the reading that he did was of newspapers. In his last year, when he wasn't able to get out as much, the TV was on most of the time. My mother used to be a big reader, but over the last 3 or 4 years, as she went into cognitive decline, her reading has dropped to zero.
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Old 06-23-2019, 09:49 AM   #4
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Yep, I think health issues are what takes a lot of elderly from active reading to passive pursuits. Medications, arthritis, mental agility, hearing loss all work against you. Plus, keep in mind that a lot of elderly don't know how to use technology, so even though ereaders and audiobooks may solve their problem, there is nobody helping them with it.
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Old 06-23-2019, 10:17 AM   #5
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Health is a big issue.
My dad, while not a BIG reader, could not hold a book because of advanced Parkinsons. TV was for News. (The Intenet was just starting. He was a Ham Radio operator. That also became idle)
Mom had a stroke and had trouble speaking and moving. So books and TV were her pastimes.

I've made it to 74, and just had one of my eyes go wonky. Mobileread and e-books take up most of my time. TV is for recent news (I still read and prefer newspapers over talking heads) I have finished ( quite a few were started last year) 94 e-books so far this year.
I think that IF you WERE a reader, you will continue to be one as long as possible in to old age. If you were NOT, you won't start now.
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Old 06-23-2019, 10:41 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by issybird View Post
I'm not part of the demographic examined here; I also don't watch television at all, no doubt a major reason I read far more than the 15 minutes per day average for all Americans.
I feel that my life would be a lot poorer if I didn’t watch some of the excellent documentaries broadcast by the BBC. Documentaries and news account for 95% of my 1-2h/day TV time.
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Old 06-23-2019, 11:01 AM   #7
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I've observed some seniors lose the taste for reading as they grow older, particularly fiction. Part of that may be that they cannot find fiction that grab them.

Last edited by Pajamaman; 06-23-2019 at 11:15 AM.
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Old 06-23-2019, 01:35 PM   #8
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My elderly mother reads ebooks and belongs to a book group with other retirees. I expect she will continue to do so as long as she is able. I think any TV she may have added fills time that used be occupied by other activities before her mobility started to decline.
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Old 06-23-2019, 03:04 PM   #9
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I'll give my usual rant which is that when you're knowledgeable about what the journalists are reporting on you can see how they get at best about 10% of it right. Their job is to sell newspapers, grab eyeballs, get clicks, etc. and they don't have the time and resources to do a good in-depth article and as a result a lot of important stuff gets left out. So how much of this article is accurate and how much is the usual blather is anyone's guess.
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Old 06-23-2019, 03:07 PM   #10
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I’m 75 and live alone. So the TV is on when I’m in the house a lot but I’m probably reading or doing something else. Just noise in the house for the most part.


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Old 06-23-2019, 04:33 PM   #11
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Is reading a web novel on TV considered "screen time"? Is reading a manga on TV considered screen time? Is listening to an audio book NOT considered reading?
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Old 06-23-2019, 05:35 PM   #12
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For the most part, I find TV very annoying. Nothing there draws my interest. As I've gotten older (early 60's now) I find TV less appealing than before. I don't read as much as I'd like. I don't practice piano as much as I'd like. Those are two of my favorite hobbies.

What I do do, is waste time on the internet. You can sure burn up a bunch of time randomly bouncing from topic to topic. The other night I was "researching" which would be more threatening to me: a black mamba or an eastern brown (I finally decided the black mamba would be the one I'd most want to avoid). I don't know what triggered that "research". It is all well and good to acquire this knowledge, but it's hardly very useful to me here in Colorado. Nor do I expect the prior night's research into remote fishing villages in Greenland to be terribly practical in my day-to-day life. I know remember what triggered that research - there was some mention on a news website of a "travel photo" contest winner, and it was from Greenland. The picture looked really cool, almost magical, and I had to find out about where it was taken.
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Old 06-23-2019, 07:08 PM   #13
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What I do do, is waste time on the internet. You can sure burn up a bunch of time randomly bouncing from topic to topic. The other night I was "researching" which would be more threatening to me: a black mamba or an eastern brown (I finally decided the black mamba would be the one I'd most want to avoid). I don't know what triggered that "research". It is all well and good to acquire this knowledge, but it's hardly very useful to me here in Colorado. Nor do I expect the prior night's research into remote fishing villages in Greenland to be terribly practical in my day-to-day life. I know remember what triggered that research - there was some mention on a news website of a "travel photo" contest winner, and it was from Greenland. The picture looked really cool, almost magical, and I had to find out about where it was taken.
I still consider that less wasteful than watching the usual crap on TV. Even so-called documentaries are highly suspect since everything on TV is groomed to be entertaining.
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Old 06-23-2019, 07:28 PM   #14
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As a general rule, TV is mind numbing, unless your mind is already numb.
For the last 20 years or so, I watch very little TV.
In fact, I do not own one, my galfriend, who does lived with me, does own one and watches it incessantly while I do something else.

Don't tell her I said this.
But, even if she is a very sweet gal, her mind is numb and has been for many years.
I began devouring audiobooks 10 to 15 years ago due to loss of vision in one eye due to glaucoma.
Recently I began to break that habit because of my hearing fading and concerns that the use of earbuds and headphone might be exacerbating it.
I'm now devouring e-books instead.

Liars figure and figures lie.
I think those statistics are based on some very slanted interpretations.
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Old 06-23-2019, 10:45 PM   #15
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I'm 78 and I live in a retirement home. Probably 1/3 of the tenants here do some reading and quite a few of those, me included, do a lot of reading.

Of the other 2/3 all that I'm aware of watch TV fairly regularly. A few of those claim they used to like to read but when I try to find out what they've read or when I get vague answers and I have doubts that they really ever did much reading after they got out of school.

I don't own a TV and haven't for most of my life. I used to sometimes watch TV shows at friend's houses. Now I'll watch some TV shows on the internet. But I probably spend more time reading than watching TV and among readers, even elderly ones, I don't think that's uncommon.

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