Monday, October 24, 2011

Second-hand TV can hinder very young children's development, leading to "policy" questions

Greg Toppo has an important front page story in the Monday Oct. 24 “USA Today”, “’Secondhand TV’ can hurt kids: Experts: Casual exposure may affect development”, link here

In the past few years, child development experts have suggested that children should not watch television at all during the first two years of life, because of the effect of fast-moving images.  This report indicates that they should not watch it accidentally, second hand, or overhear it.

I know that in my own family, some distant relatives, a well-educated couple in their thirties with a very young child, enforce this.

Personally, it seems ironic, since the most popular of my blogs in terms of page requests is usually the TV Reviews blog.

In seventh grade (starting in 1955 for me), “general education” teachers were saying “read, don’t watch television”.

My father bought the first TV in 1950, and I remember watching a western every day at 4 PM, waiting for the inevitable stagecoach wreck in the last act.  I remember the other comedies, like “My Little Margie”, “I Love Lucy”, even “Amos ‘n’ Andy”. But I was seven when we got it. It broke down frequently and in those days people had televisions repaired.

We have a society very wired to media, where fluency with media can become a good income-earning skill.

Experts are properly concerned that young children exposed to television too early will not learn to deal with "real people", or develop familial relationships.  It's interesting to note, though, that pets (both dogs and cats) seem to know that images in a television are not "real".  There was a scene in the 2005 South African film "Duma" (Carroll Ballard, Warner Bros.) where a household cheetah actually learns to operate a television remote. 

Yet, suddenly, this state of affairs seems to put new parents in a tough position.  Or, when parents have subsequent children, older siblings will “give up television” to protect younger siblings’ development – they had no choice in the matter.

The concern would obviously extend to Internet use, since television episodes and films are being watched over the Internet on home computers or flat screens more.

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