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Friday, November 05, 2010

32 Hours...

This article at the WSJ tells us that kids spend an average of 32 hours per week in front of the television:

"Preschoolers aged 2 to 5 spend an average of more than 32 hours in front of a TV screen each week, according to Nielsen. "

This is a few hours less than the average work week in the UK, Sweden, and various other European countries.

Our old friend Disney, according to the article, did a study of some 2,200 parents.  They asked them what they most wanted for their kids.

The answer: "to be happy" - a big shift from five or 10 years ago when academic and cognitive skills topped parents' list.

Well, you can bet Disney will be working on fixing up their programming to remove any nasty competition or learning elements so that those 32 hours can be spent feeling happy.

In most professions it takes at least 10,000 hours to reach proficiency at something: as in practicing and playing 10,000 hours of music or baseball.  With that much TV these kiddies will be professional TV watchers in a mere six years.  That's right, they're on track to have 10,000 hours of TV in by, say, eight years old (or maybe seven depending on when mom and dad figure out that little Jr. will not bother them when the TV is on).

Now, informally I would say that at least fourteen minutes of each of those hours is filled with commercials.  This is, of course, what Disney really cares about.  The content of the programs merely being glue to hold little Jr down while the commercials play.

From yet another perspective: given 180 days of school in an "average" school year and a generously average 6.5 hour school day (let's assume that lunch, recess - that no longer exists, hall time, study hall, etc. are also educational time) that's almost 10 years of school - a sophomore in high school.

So these kiddies will have literally a lifetime of education in "being happy" by the time they are eight.

So, if both mommy and daddy work we can assume at least 9 hours in daycare.  Add four or five hours of TV time to that and what to you get?

I don't know? Abandonment?  No mommy or daddy for 13 or 14 hours day.

At least in the olden days when kids worked in a field picking cotton they got to at least work with their parents.

Apparently these kids don't deserve even that much.

In case you haven't figured this out yet - this is TOTALLY INSANE.

Why would you have kids if you never saw them?

And don't forget, we're talking 2 to 5 year old's here.

Oh, and for good measure none of the Disney programs targeted at this group will have villains or conflict.  This seems like a good recipe for trouble later in life when real conflict and villains appear.

Absolutely no social skills to deal with them.

In the olden days everyone on the playground had to get along.  Its how you learned social skills.  Watching conflict-free nonsense TV programs teaches you nothing about social skills.

No, to me this is childhood abandonment.  Read the wikipedia definition if you don't agree.

You will argue that the formal definition of childhood abandonment with "relinquishing interests and claims over one's offspring with the intent of never again resuming or reasserting it."

So let's be clear - if the parent is willing to cede the upbringing of a toddler to small child to others for 13 or 14 hours a day they will somehow recover that lost time later in life?  They intend what?  To cut the kids TV time later in life and spend time loving him?

No, the fact is that the parents will cede more and more of the time they should be spending with their child to others as the child gets older: school, TV, maybe sports.

And it only gets worse as the kids get older.  Nearly 7 hours a day (including internet) with media entertainment per day after age 8.

Apparently by the time your are an adult, say 18, you start spending less time in front of the TV but by then its too late.

You've already lost your imagination, your ability to play, time to gain real social skill, and you've ceded creativity to others.

You've already been emotionally abandon by your family.

You may think I'm nuts but there is a tremendous amount of indirect evidence to support this:

Consider the increase in anti-depressant usage is young adults, teens and even small children.

Consider the ever decreasing age of drug use.

Consider obesity.


1 comment:

Audrey said...

My oldest child is 27 now. We never allowed television before evening and no commercial television before they were 7 or 8. He and his 25 year old sister are extremely intelligent, accomplished, and well adjusted. When I remarried I became a part time step mother to two girls who were in front of a television all day long, except when they were at our house. And of course they had no idea what to do with themselves - they literally did not know how to play. They are having a lot more problems than the older kids and are appallingly willing to buy anything some commercial tells them they should want. Far too much of the 17 year old's conversations start with "Did you see the commercial where...."

We have 10 year old twins. They are not allowed screens of any kind before 5 pm ever, and commercial screens only once a week.

It is a classic experimental design, though that was not our intent. But it has certainly shown that the result of all that television watching is a consumer who will buy anything they are told - and never be "happy" anyway!

Keep in mind that children this age are still taking naps - and presumably they are put to bed (some of them are out to bed, anyway, as opposed to being allowed to park in front of a television until they fall asleep on the floor - that is FAR too common). That 32 hours represents a huge percentage of their waking hours.