Speaking of research that states the obvious a la Mrs. G (my new favorite blog parking space), what are your predictions about the effects of excessive TV viewing on kids?
If you guessed poorer health ratings and lower academic performance you've either got excellent parenting instincts or you've been paying attention to the news. Additonal problems include sleep disturbance and an increased risk of smoking (even without cigarette ads).
So what percentage of kids would you guess have TVs in their bedrooms? 10% ? 20% ?
Now, let me preface this discussion by saying that I'm not a TV nazi. My kids have a small TV in their playroom. They watch their fair share and I'm fairly defensive about that. Cognitive dissonance isn't just a figment of social psychologists' imagination, afterall.
But I am a strong believer in moderation which is not to say I'm always a staunch defender of my own beliefs. But I am pretty sure my neighbors will tell you (maybe complain) that my kids see plenty of fresh air and sunshine.
And I don't want to leave the impression that prefrontal cortex abuse is something I reserve for my kids. I watch my fair share of TV, too. Life as I know it, afterall, would lose its meaning without The Office to remind me why I got my PhD in the first place (we all know a real life Dwight) and Jon Stewart's Daily Show to remind me why I need to vote every single election.
But there is one shining notation in my reluctant TV habits. I was over 40 before I "agreed" to have one in my own bedroom. This only happened because hubby, Sam, convinced me we needed a flat screen, and a "resting spot" had to be found for the old family room dinosaur. It found a permanent home on the master bedroom cedar chest which was conveniently positioned next to the cable plug. Voila. A third brain sucker is born.
Ok, so what percentage of kids have a TV in their bedroom? Studies say 50%. Maybe even as high as 70% for 3rd graders! As a mental health clinician, I often say "nothing surprises me" and this doesn't surprise me either -- it shocks me. Especially given the uber parenting age we live in and repeated warnings from children's advocacy groups (such as the American Academy of Pediatrics).
So at what age are kids getting TVs in their rooms, would you say? Try 30% in the 3-6yr age range. Wow.
Researchers and teachers have begun referring to the "zombie" effect: kids who come to school showing minimal emotional reactivity. Sadly, little television drones are being created in this great land of wealth and opportunity and 500 channels but nothing on.
So whatcha gonna do about it, Willis? Not much. Except maybe participate in and pass on the word about TV Turnoff Week beginning April 21st. Who else is game?
Thanks to the Anxiety, Addiction and Depression Treatments site for posting this summary of recent findings about kids and television viewing.
And in case you've noticed, I have only figured out how to insert one picture into my blog piece. When I try to add a second image (Arnold from Diff'rent Strokes), it sits right on top of the other, instead of in the midst of the text, where I want it. Anyone up for yet another tutorial?