Tuesday, April 13th, 2010
In junior high school, one of my classmates had a TV addiction — back before it was normal. This boy — we’ll call him Ethan — was an encyclopedia of vacuous content, from The A-Team to Who’s the Boss?
Then one day Ethan’s mother made him a bold offer. If he could go a full month without watching any TV, she would give him $200. None of us thought he could do it. But Ethan quit TV, just like that. His friends offered to let him cheat at their houses on Friday nights (Miami Vice nights!). Ethan said no.
One month later, Ethan’s mom paid him $200. He went out and bought a TV, the biggest one he could find.
This is a fascinating piece by Amanda Ripley for Time Magazine about the work of Harvard economist named Roland Fryer Jr. who’s done studies of this in numerous US cities. The results aren’t what you might think and the piece is worth reading.