"No way," you're probably thinking. "I don't watch anywhere near that much tube."
Well, maybe you're not, but odds are that your neighbors, friends, and family are. Recent data from Nielsen's "Snapshot of Television Use in the U.S." shows that we the people now average 35 hours and 34 minutes of TV viewing per week. If you figure 16 waking hours per day, that's 115 days we Americans spend watching TV every year, or over 24 years of our average waking lifespan. The last age breakdown I could find of this estimate was in Nielsen's 1st Quarter 2009 Three Screen Report:
The crazy thing here is that kids tend to get a bad rap for all of the TV they watch, but it turns out that kids actually watch less television than any other demographic. The older we get, the more we watch. Think how awesome it'll be to hit that 65+ group, when we can draw Social Security and spend 158 waking days of every year -- almost half of our conscious existence -- watching TV.
More Nielsen data shows that the majority of American homes have at least three TV sets. Over 30% have at least four.
I've heard that in some cultures, the elderly are prized for their ability to volunteer in social causes and mentor children. I wonder what the education trends are like in those countries compared to ours. It's probably a fair guess that they're watching a lot less television than we do. Of course, if you don't feel like guessing, look here.