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Good Morning Nanty Glo!
Wednesday, January 30 2002

Television and society

This series of thoughts about television as a factor in all our lives was inspired by an email from one of our list members last week, the content of which was mainly an article by John Rosemond. A North Carolina psychologist and nationally syndicated columnist on parenting, Rosemond is famous for advocating: "any and all television (that includes videos) is bad for pre-literate children." His column, linked here, is worth reading in full.

I'm no expert on the medium, so won't pretend to know how valid Rosemond's claims about the negative effects of TV watching on preliterate children may be. But common sense convinces me that we'd all be better off reading good-quality books than watching television, or giving up even a specified portion of our television time to reading. Though I'm not convinced that pulp books like Tom Clancey's and Stephen King's—or most newspapers or magazines—are superior ways to pass time than watching some television dramas and educational fare, Rosemond and the other researchers he cites believe that the process of ingesting and processing television programming is in itself a cause of behavioral and developmental problems in children.

Television is inciting and unsettling, contributing to attention deficit syndrome that results in bad study habits, difficulty listening to classroom presentations, and other negative behaviors. Some studies have also drawn correlations between violence on television and in society, suggesting that watching violence leads to violence in children. Other observers feel that the opposite may apply: the more violence there is in the society, the more it's reported, recreated, and reflected in television and other entertainment media. It seems to me that both claims probably have some validity.

Though the best-known popular theoretician about the mass media, Marshall McLuhan, described television as a cool medium, meaning it is external and not very compelling, the opposite may apply to children, who have often been observed, probably by most of us, as being transfixed by what they're watching. While we may read email, prepare and eat dinner, and even talk on the phone while "watching" television, the youngest members of our families are more likely engrossed by what's on, rather than only half-watching. Therein may be the greatest danger in television, for individual children and for the society at large.

Webmaster Jon Kennedy

Kids' views on marriage


Twenty-three is the best age because you know the person
forever by then.

—Camille, age 10

No age is good to get married at. You got to be a fool to get married.

—Freddie, age 6
Sent by Mike Harrison

Thought for the day

A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher. He would either be a lunatic—on a level with the man who says he is a poached egg—or else he would be the Devil of Hell. You must make your choice. Either this man was, and is, the Son of God: or else a madman or something worse. You can shut Him up for a fool, you can spit at Him as a demon; or you can fall at His feet and call Him Lord and God. But let us not
come with any patronizing nonsense about His being a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us. He did not intend to.

—C. S. Lewis, A Grief Observed

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