Feeding the fire

Jessica Lewis

Few people would argue that young children are watching too little television. In fact, in the last few years the childhood obesity rate has skyrocketed, partially as a result of increased time spent watching television and playing video games instead of playing sports and enjoying outdoor activities.

With the staggering statistics on childhood obesity (the numbers have tripled since 1970) and television time (most kids watch an average of four hours of television a day) it doesn’t seem likely that children need any encouragement to watch more television, but that’s exactly what they are getting.

A couple of months ago, a satellite installer came to my house to set up my television. When he saw my one year old son, he immediately started telling me about the new television station they offered just for babies. Apparently there is an educational, commercial-free television station targeting children from six months to three years of age.

As if that wasn’t enough, video game makers are now targeting the same age group. The concept behind these things is to provide an opportunity for parents and children to interact while playing these games or watching the television, which is fine, but it seems to me that children get addicted to television and video games quickly enough on their own. Do we really need to spoon feed it to them before they have any interest in it at all?

Sitting kids in front of the television from the time they’re 6 months old is only going to teach them that that is an acceptable habit and something they should do all the time.

I guess if these programs are used as an alternative to traditional television and video games, this is definitely the better way to go, but wouldn’t it be even better to interact with your kids rather than letting the television do it for you?