Wednesday, May 09, 2007

educating the little ones

The following is from a recent Newsweek interview, ‘Teeny Tiny TV Watchers’, with Frederick Zimmerman, associate professor of health services at the University of Washington and coauthor of "The Elephant in the Living Room: Make Television Work For Your Kids.” Emphasis added is mine.

Zimmerman: We did phone interviews with more than 1,000 parents with kids 2 months old to 2 years old. We asked them about time use, essentially how they use their available time to interact with their children. We asked about the toys the kids played with and how often a parent reads to a child. And we asked about TV and videos and DVDs and whether parents allowed their kids to watch this type of media.

Newsweek: What did you find out?

Zimmerman: Much to our surprise, 40 percent of infants are watching about one hour of TV, DVDs or videos every day, by 3 months of age. By age 2, 90 percent are watching some type of programming for about 90 minutes a day.

Before our children have even fully functional use of our language, we are giving them over to others, including advertising agencies and their corporate sponsors, to teach them what those people and companies would like them to know. More…

Zimmerman: Nearly 30 percent of these parents told us they believed that TV, DVDs or videos were beneficial, helping with a child's brain development. Others believed their infants or toddlers enjoyed TV. Some parents use media as an electronic babysitter so they could do other things.

Newsweek: The American Academy of Pediatrics is clear in their recommendations for a media-blackout for kids under 2 years of age. Why the disconnect between those recommendations and what parents are doing?

Zimmerman: Most parents don't believe that TV is potentially dangerous to their children at such a young age… Plus, marketers of infant-directed programming have been much more successful than the academic community in getting their message out to parents that their products are supposedly helpful. But there is no research that says television viewing through the first months and the first few years of life is beneficial.

The research shows no benefit and the doctors say no (zero) TV before two years of age. But then again, that message is aimed at a generation, “who grew up with TV in the household and they seemed to be very comfortable using TV in their parenting.” I believe we’ve been brainwashed.


Matt said...

90 minutes a day for a 2 year old! God! We had our youngest in a day care and they let them watch too much TV (and lied about it). We yanked him out that very day never to return.

TV sucks. It's an evil parasite that sucks the life out of people.

RAS said...

90 minutes a day???!!!!
I watch maybe 90 minutes a month -and that's usually a movie. My tv isn't even plugged in.
No wonder people have so many problems. Brainwashed, indeed.

jennifer said...

Our daughter, Keaton, (yes, I am Aaron's wife) is a very independent child who can entertain herself around our house for at least an hour, sometimes longer. She does not need to have something to watch to make her happy or to keep her occupied! She loves to
"read" her books, play with the dog, build things with her blocks, make things in her toy kitchen, dance to music and many other things. I do not think she would be as independent if there was always a television on for her to be mesmerized by.

Katrien said...

Our Amie (21 months now) has watched perhaps 1/2 hour of tv her entire life, and that inadvertantly.

She was never interested in tv, until a month ago, when flashy and noisy ads suddenly started to grab her attention. This resulted in the banning of Red Sox games for my husband, who deplores the action but understands.

When he said "if only we had a tv room!" I ranted about that being TWO evils: TWICE the isolation! It's one of the reasons I wouldn't want to live in a bigger house (at the moment we have 1000 sq.f.).

Thanks, Aaron, for bringing this to our attention!

Dan said...

Go to and watch their commercials for TV Turn Off Week. One in particular features the camera panning a group of children watching TV while sitting on a couch. They look like mesmerized zombies. It's enough to make a parent throw out their TV.

It's sad that most children in my neighborhood except for one family, spend any amount of time outdoors. Even sadder, I am considered the wierd one at work because I don't watch TV regularly and could care less who is winning whatever reality show is popular at the moment. I want to tell them, sorry folks, my life is the only reality show I need.

(sorry if this posts twice, it didn't look like it took it the first time)

jewishfarmer said...

I've admitted this to Aaron, but my kids occasionally do watch television. My oldest son is moderately-to-severely autistic, and we discovered that there are things he can process from television that he can't get from us, oddly enough. He learned to read by watching "Between the Lions" - so once a week (while the littlest guy is napping - at 18 months he still doesn't get to watch), the older kids get to rot their brains for an hour - if we remember and don't have anything else to do. The current fave here is "Looney Tunes," and 3 1/2 year old Isaiah has told me he wants to be a road runner when he grows up.

I'm not ecstatic about tv, but having grown up without it, I also don't want it to be completely forbidden fruit. And while I don't believe in tv for babies or really little ones, I don't really understand why people complain about tv but still go to the movies, which is essentially the same crap, only for $8-10 bucks a pop.

I doubt television will surivive our 90% energy cut, and I'd be just as happy to get rid of it altogether. But while I'm no fan of it for really little people, my kids can all entertain themselves, work hard and read obsessively - and still tolerate a little of the great Satan shining in their eyes.