Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Raising children responsibly in the television age

An article appeared in today's Washington Post that caught my eye entitled "Pull the plug on TVs in teen's room?" The piece was yet another installment in the continuing "debate" over the effect of allowing children to watch to view television excessively - in this case by locating a television in a pre-teen or teen's bedroom.

"Pediatricians" and "child development experts" warn that putting a TV in a child's room is associated with a host of undesirable outcomes, among them poor school performance, behavior issues, and obesity. I'm so glad that we have these experts working tirelessly around the clock to tell good parents what we already know: too much of anything, in this case television, is a bad thing.

Why is this not perceived as common sense? Is having the TV in the bedroom the real issue here, or is it that parents no longer exert any control over the actions of their children? My son has a television in his room with a satellite hookup and an Xbox attached. He excels in school, is as thin as a rail, and shows no evidence of any "behavior issues."

Either he is the exception to the rule or this study has missed the point: parents need to monitor their children. Americans have decided subconciously en masse to no longer take responsibility for their own actions or lack lack of actions when it comes to child-rearing. We've also decided to deflect blame for the failure of proper parenting towards any target other than the most natural one - the parent.

If we think music is profane, we protest the music rather than restrict our children from purchasing or listening to it. If we think television is too racy or too violent we blame the networks rather than changing the channel. Now, we're blaming the physical location of an electronic appliance for children becoming disconnected from their families and lazy.

It's the adults who are actually being lazy if they no longer care enough about their children to take charge of their well being, instead looking to pointless studies which derive obvious answers to explain away their shortcomings as parents.

TV, like any other form of media, can be a wonderful thing for children. Let's not forget about that when we read stories detailing the results of studies like this one.

1 comment:

Jen said...

I completely agree. Parents, as I have on many occasions, need to say, "Hey, this is my fault." We are responsible for a child watching 8 hours of TV on a Saturday because we allowed it to happen, whether it's in their bedroom or the living room.