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Not Prince Hamlet

"Full of high sentence, but a bit obtuse."

TV Kids

Friday, May 26, 2006

A study released by the Kaiser Family Foundation and the Princeton Research Group discloses that American children under 6 spend more time in front of electronic "screen" media than they do reading or being read to. More than hearing books read to them or reading books themselves, the survey found most kids are playing video games, watching TV, or using a computer.

NPH readers may wonder, "so what?"

That's what the Vice President of Programming for the Cartoon Network, Alice Cahn, would like you to ask. She responds to the survey by positing that, "TV can be a trustworthy babysitter for children."

Yikes.

In response, a well-known psychology and pediatrics professor at GW Medical School emphasizes that, especially for kids 3 and under, any "screen time" is bad: "Experience wires the braind and forms the mind," he says, "not genes."

So we are raising up a generation of young people whose brains are wired by more and more experience with electronic screen media and less and less experience with print media and auditory story telling.

NPH is not a parent (he's a lackluster uncle and cousin, at best), so he can't criticize parents who use the TV as a babysitter with any moral authority. But this research is damning. And one aspect of TV viewership by children not addressed by early coverage of the report is advertising; pretty much every avenue of screen media has been permeated by advertising, so kids who spend a lot of time consuming TV, video games, and computers are taking in gads of advertising messages, many of which are masked to conceal their coersive character.

My wife and I are this close to putting the TV in the closet and cancelling our Netflix subscription; this report only makes it easier.

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posted by Not Prince Hamlet, 7:12 AM

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