People who watch a lot of TV know a great deal about exciting and alternative hobbies. In the commercials, soap operas and sitcoms of today, there is no place for jogging. Viewers aren’t turned on by people who collect stamps, write to pen pals or go cycling on a weekend. Realistic hobbies have no place on TV. When was the last time you saw the star of a TV show going out binge drinking after a week at work? When did you see people on TV doing what people in real life do – sitting around and watching TV for hours on end and stuffing their faces while they do it?

So what kind of hobbies do TV characters have and is it worth having a go?

Young boys in most houses can be found at all hours close by to the games console, an area about which they can be very territorial. They spend their weekends glued to the big screen, shooting terrorists and carjacking their way around surprisingly realistic virtual cities. They eat their breakfast, lunch and often dinner with one hand on the games controller. Any effort to distract them from the game is ignored or met with incredulous uproar and screams of “but I haven’t saved it” and “I was just about to get the Exo Zombie Gun! Now you’ve ruined it!”

On TV things are quite different. Young boys are usually part of a baseball team or trying out for quarterback in their grade school football team. They might do some community work – mowing an elderly neighbor’s lawn or taking their dogs for walks. More introverted characters might be budding tech geniuses – hacking into their school’s central computer to change their test scores. They might have built their own drone which is suddenly hijacked by the bad guys to use in a bank heist.

All of these hobbies are easy enough for real kids to get into. Fair enough, not everybody is going to be able to make the school football or baseball team, but that’s no reason they shouldn’t play with their friends or try their hand at a different sport. If parents encouraged their kids to get into computer systems rather than just playing computer games, we might well have a few more tech wizards living among us. And drones are one of the gifts that are mostly received with delight by young boys, but are overlooked as too much of a luxury item by most parents. A drone can get kids interested in many different fields, from robotics to aviation to photography. Just take a look at http://www.rotorcopters.com/beginner-camera-drones/, to see if you and your family could get into them.

Homebrewing is something that adults in sitcoms get into, often with predictably comical results. Perhaps that’s why it’s not quite as common a pastime as we’ve been led to believe. Homebrewing is actually quite difficult to get right and involves a lot of trial and error. It can take years before you come up with anything drinkable. But it’s not all that expensive or difficult to get into. If you have a natural interest in biology and chemistry you’re far more likely to be successful than if you’re just a ‘beer lover’. Beer lovers tend to be people who just like to get drunk and pretend there is something cultured and civilized about it. After their first batch fails they might try a second. But after that gets poured away it’s back to the twelve packs in the fridge and visiting micro breweries to get drunk and tell everyone how they used to do their own brewing, but just don’t have the time to keep it up any more. Which is a shame, because their home brewed beer was awesome.

The thing is that people who don’t watch a lot of TV are the ones who are more likely to be out there, trying their hands at something new. If you spend your life sitting down and watching someone else’s idea of life through an electronic box, you’re never going to get the fulfilment and excitement of living a full life, trying our all the hobbies that catch your eye.