As one who had no restrictions to the tube much of my time as a child was spent four feet from the television. I haven’t examined in detail the effects it had on me but one negative thing for sure was the wasted time that was spent. I do have a television in my apartment but is hardly ever used. I do not have cable or the internet which are both intentional. I do however enjoy watching a movie on ocassion with Jessica. Jess and I have talked about whether or not we should have a television in the house when we have kids. I’m leaning towards tossing the TV based on my personal regrets. I do not think watching television is a sin by any means nor do I think it is a total waste of time considering all the educational benefits one might get from it.
For good and obvious reasons, Americans have spent a great deal of energy and research in identifying and removing contaminants and dangers from the lives of children. Lead was once a common ingredient in paint for homes, but the danger lead posed to children became known and a crusade to remove lead spread across the country.
Beyond lead in paints, crusaders looked for any toxin or danger that might be found in the pajamas, furniture, and toys that might be in a child’s room. But it seems that many have missed a most obvious danger — the presence of a television in a child’s room.
The New York Times published a most interesting report on this issue just this week, claiming that the mere presence of a television set in a child’s bedroom is a direct threat to the child’s health. As the article documented:
Children with bedroom TVs score lower on school tests and are more likely to have sleep problems. Having a television in the bedroom is strongly associated with being overweight and a higher risk for smoking.
The numbers of children with a television in the bedroom are staggering. According to one study, 70% of third-graders had a television set in the room — we are talking about eight-year-olds.
Reporter Tara Parker-Pope also points to the obvious fact that one danger is simply that children and teens will watch more television. As she reported:
In a study of 80 children in Buffalo, ages 4 to 7, the presence of a television in the bedroom increased average viewing time by nearly nine hours a week, to 30 hours from 21. And parents of those children were more likely to underestimate their child’s viewing time.
“If it’s in the bedroom, the parents don’t even really know what the kids are watching,” said Leonard H. Epstein, professor of pediatrics and social and preventive medicine at the School of Medicine and Biomedical Science at the State University of New York at Buffalo. “Oftentimes, parents who have a TV in the kids’ bedrooms have TVs in their bedrooms.”