Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Kids Watch More than a Day of TV Each Week! New news from Nielsen.

I was pretty shocked to read this article in the LA Times today, telling us that the average 2-5 year old watches thirty-two hours of television per week, and those 6-11 watching 28 hours per week.

From the original Nielsen report the article is sourced on:
"American children aged 2-11 are watching more and more television than they have in years. New findings from The Nielsen Company show kids aged 2-5 now spend more than 32 hours a week on average in front of a TV screen. The older segment of that group (ages 6-11) spend a little less time, about 28 hours per week watching TV, due in part that they are more likely to be attending school for longer hours."

I think this article really makes one thing clear.

As our kids get older, they are clearly watching less TV. So the obvious question is:

How do we put a stop to this?

"They are more likely to be attending school for longer hours." Therein lies the problem.

It seems like we have two options:

1. Cut school days shorter.
2. Somehow incorporate more TV into school.

I think the latter shows some promise; when it rains, my kids occasionally watch a movie in the auditorium instead of having recess. I imagine many schools resort to this, so we know the infrastructure is there.

In fact, schools may want to consider the costs savings available by incorporating more television into their schedules. The average teacher's salary in New York State is over $56,000. But a big, flat screen TV can be had for under $1,000!

If we could cut, say, 100,000 teachers nationwide, and replace them with televisions, think about how much money we could save? Admittedly, my figures are unscientific, but a back-of-the-envelope calculation shows over five billion in savings. Wow! That's like, two weeks of war!

Okay. I know. I'm being cynical and bitter, not to mention judgmental.

Here's something positive to consider. If kids are watching TV over thirty hours a week, do we have some responsibility to create programming that teaches them something?

From the LA Times article:
"I think parents are clueless about how much media their kids are using and what they're watching," said Dr. Vic Strasburger, a professor of pediatrics at the University of New Mexico School of Medicine and a spokesman for the American Academy of Pediatrics.

"The biggest misconception is that it's harmless entertainment," said Strasburger, who has written extensively about the effects of media on children. "Media are one of the most powerful teachers of children that we know of. When we in this society do a bad job of educating kids about sex and drugs, the media pick up the slack."
Just a little something for us to consider as we go about our business, creating entertainment for mass consumption. *

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