Friday, May 11, 2007

TV hurts 'tweens as well as tiny ones and toddlers

This morning The Oregonian went big with a story out of Seattle that parents are mindlessly plunking little ones in front of TVs, a practice that pediatricians warn can hamper brain development and lead to attention deficit problems, aggressive behavior, obesity and later problems with math and reading.

Turns out that "Brainy Baby," the latest fear-factor trend in programming to toddlers and their parents, produces brain-deprived baby, not the "Baby Einstein" or "Baby Mozart" promised to parents by TV hucksters. Visit their web sites and weep. Reminder: The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends no (zero!) TV for children under two.

(This just in, parents! Neither Einstein nor Mozart watched TV!)

Those of us at the Northwest Media Literacy Center have been sharing information like this for for the past six years. It's nice to get help from The Oregonian. Let's hope today's front page story is the beginning of a front-page trend.

One story worthy of the front page, but missed by The O, was in the Christian Science Monitor on Thursday. This one was about a study showing that if a 14-year-old watches three or more hours of TV a day there's a much greater likelihood of poor performance later in college.

The study was published in the Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Psychology.

So if you want your kids to to make the dean's list, or just have a better chance of getting a BA, teach them to turn off the TV.

Of course there are plenty of other reasons to hit the off button, not the least of which is that time in front of screens is time away from life and the real world. The average American living to 80 will have spent 15 years of 24-hour days in front of television.

Someday you might want that time back.

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