Sensible Policy on TV
Q. My kids
watch 'way too much TV. I know I've got to get them to knock it off. But how?
TV was introduced into
American homes, and boom! Standardized test scores, especially for verbal
skills, started to go down. This is not a coincidence. TV is poisonous to
school performance, poisonous to healthy socializing, poisonous to lifelong
learning for adults. If you're stupefied in front of the boob tube, what are
you becoming? What else? A boob!!!
The landmark book on
this topic, The Plug-In Drug, adds
Don't focus so much on the content of what your child is watching,
as on the "opportunity cost" of what your child is giving up by spending so
much time with the TV. Your child is missing out on outside play, play with friends,
time for reading, a chance to build models and do crafts, imaginative play,
family relationship building, memory building, and much more, not to mention
TV really does make a child into a passive zombie who has trouble
concentrating, yet resists proper nutrition and a sensible bedtime, just like a
"stoned" person does.
TV really is addictive, physically.
There are direct connections between heavy TV watching and
aggression. It doesn't even have to be violent TV; it's just that, when the
child watches TV all the time, the child is NOT playing, and play is a child's
No. 1 outlet for natural, healthy aggression. Also, when the TV is NOT on, the
mom and dad usually are interacting more with the child, guiding him or her to
handle anger and other emotions better.
The No. 1 reason parents don't sharply curtail their children's TV
time, or get rid of the TV altogether, is that they are . . . well . . . wimps.
There's lots, lots more,
of course. But the bottom line is, parents who do NOT throw the TV's out of the
house, or at the very least limit their child's watching time to an hour a day
or less, are short-changing their children academically, emotionally, socially,
physically, and every other way, making their family relationships stale and
passive instead of active and vibrant, and asking for all sorts of trouble and
Who needs it? Not us!
All together, now: put
your thumb on that "OFF" button, smile, and PUSH!!!
Homework: The Plug-In Drug by Marie Winn has been
updated and reissued in paperback for its 25th anniversary. It's essential for
parents and educators who want to do what they can to prevent children from
getting hooked on TV, and bumped off the learning curve.