Thursday, May 25, 2006

Tots totaled by TV

Many Parents Encourage Tots to Watch TV

WASHINGTON (May 24) - One mother stopped watching "ER" reruns when her preschooler tried to give her little brother CPR. Another mom laughed that her 15-month-old sang the McDonald's jingle - "ba, ba, boppa, ba" - every time they drove past the golden arches.

One-third of the nation's youngest children - babies through age 6 - live in homes where the television is on almost all the time, says a study that highlights the immense disconnect between what pediatricians advise and what parents allow.

TV in the bedroom is not even that rare for the littlest tots anymore. Almost one child in five under 2 has a set, even though the American Academy of Pediatrics advises against any TV watching at that age...


And on it goes. This is no less than systemic, multi-billion dollar child abuse. The level of stupefaction concerning television is supernatural. "If it is everywhere, why shield children from it?" many think. "It's here to stay." "Make sure its good TV." The mindless cliches swarm likes flies on dung. TVs for tots means "the end of childhood" (Neil Postman), increased ADD and ADHD, less literacy, less learning to communicate face to face, mind to mind, soul to soul with real, living (unmediated) human beings, less physical activity in unmediated nature, and far more money for the endlessly self-justifying, self-righteous Beast of Television Culture. "Never unplug," it commands. "Take the mark."

My response: Refuse it. Be creative. Read. Be silent and alone. Attend unmediated events--lectures, concerts, games, prayer meetings. Pray for deliverance--with the TV off.

As Jesus said in Luke 17:2:

It would be better for you to be thrown into the sea with a millstone tied around your neck than for you to cause one of these little ones to stumble.


Weekend Fisher said...

We watch only the highest level of TV at my place: Gilligan's Island re-runs on DVD. The top of American pop culture.

Peter M. Head said...

It is also a big problem in the UK. My 7 y.o. daughter reports that most of her school friends have TVs in their bed-rooms. She also came back from Brownies the other day in tears because she was the only girl who couldn't answer a quiz question about Doctor Who.

Craig Fletcher said...

Your report made my stomach turn. With our baby due in October, we vow not to follow the TV trend. I also try to go out of my way to campaign against having "TV Sitters" for children in the home... I've had a few people (most recently my cousin) see the light lately after my rant. My cousin's family watches entirely too much TV. With three boys, when he and his wife want some "down time" they send the kids down to the basement to watch TV and play video games. Sadly, this is almost a daily occurence.

It will be interesting (more like tragic) to see the long term effects of media saturation worsen in the coming decades. I wonder how bad it will have to get before people "get it"?

My wife and I recently tutored two 8-year-olds through this past school year. One of them, a little girl, lived in a projects development. Their house was tiny and full of children, about EIGHT of them. What did you see in the middle of their tiny living room? A 5 foot wide (no joke) TV that was on every single time we picked her up and dropped her off. The children were always sitting there in front of their digital God, hypnotized and entranced. Often, several of them wouldn't even look up at me when I walked through the door. A few times I asked them what they were watching and they didn't really even know!!!!

Engage your kids, spend time getting to know them, being their parents first and their freinds second. Kids will watch TV as much as you let them.

Douglas Groothuis, Ph.D. said...

I have anecdotally heard many times that TV addiction accompanies poverty. Years ago, one of my students wrote a paper on this. I wish I would have kept it.

Another student for a time hooked up cable TV around Denver. He reported installing cable (not cheap) in the dilapidated haunts of the hypnotized. He reports that one woman, short on capital, instead offered her body in exchange for cable.

This much is sure: TV does nothing to cultivate the analytical skills required for decent work; nor can it impart useful knowledge needed to emerge from poverty; nor does it develop the moral imagination.

Julia Gwin said...

I have 5 young children and stopped watching television after observing its effects upon them. It is much too powerful and addicting. We have television sets, but no service. If you turn on a television in our home, you get snow. We watch only DVD's or VHS tapes.

In defense of television, however, watching a movie is good when one is ill and uncomfortable. Watching a movie is a powerful way to take the mind off of discomfort; and I am unable to do this while reading. The fact that television is able to "disengage" me from myself is the core of what makes it dangerous for my children, who have yet to develop a keen sense of discernment.