Saturday, November 5, 2011


Many parents I've counseled through the years are concerned about their children's TV viewing. They are concerned about the unrestricted TV viewing and the effect it has on them.
I tell them their concerns are justified. The typical American preschooler commits to 5,000 hours of TV watching before entering grammar school and averages 28.5 hours of TV viewing per week throughout childhood. I weighed these APA statistics against the weekly program hours which TV networks scheduled as educational programming for kids. CBS donated one hour, ABC 90 minutes, NBC 90 minutes, FOX 3 hours, and PBS 7 hours. Subtracting these “kid-friendly” weekly program amounts (from 28.5 child-viewing hours) leaves lots of weekly questionable TV exposure remaining on each network.

Throughout grammar school, children witness 8,000 TV murders and 100,000 violent incidents, becoming spectators to more violence in one month than the Romans saw in the Coliseum during the reign of Nero. In this context, I appreciate Thomas Jefferson’ remark- “Men’s sentiments are known not only by what they receive, but also by what they reject.” Would he have supported censorship?

The harmful effect of TV becomes apparent when one questions what else could children be doing. As America’s youth watches TV more and more, they spend less and less time conversing with parents, reading, studying, playing with peers, enjoying nature and the out-of-doors, burning calories and keeping fit.

Today’s preschoolers will view over 350,000 TV commercials before finishing high school. Each ad throws an underlying pitch to vanity, greed, and competitiveness in order to create a desire for something they don’t need. They view their favorite cartoon characters peddling toys or a child surrounded by admiring “friends” because of a newly bought plaything…only to discover the toy isn’t as fast, big or attention-getting as the masterpiece fabricated on TV.

A insightful man once said, “Forming children‘s TV habits sometimes means to simply turn off the TV and not let it become an electronic baby sitter that surrenders the parents role of becoming primary educator of their children.” He was Pope John Paul II.

Robert Morton, M.Ed., Ed.S. has retired from his positions of School Psychologist and adjunct professor in the School of Leadership & Policy Studies at Bowling Green State Univeristy. A portion of Ad sale revenue from this site is donated to Big Brothers/Big Sisters of America. Questions? Comment? Concerns about family, parenting, educational or personal concerns? Contact him on the secure Bpath Mail Form.