Saturday, November 18, 2006

let's imagine

Let’s imagine different commercials:
No more junk food, candies, video game, toys, TV show, medication...

let's imagine that commercials speak about fruits, vegetables, dairy, sport, exercises, water, board game played all together, visit to museum, hiking and discovering nature, cooking, growing vegetables and flowers, making all kind of things with our hands, writing, reading, drawing, singing, playing music, talking with friend, enjoying farmer market...

Just imagine the content of each of those commercials, like picturing the one for board game: the family together laughing and talking, the one for the farmer market with the children choosing the vegetables and the fruits with the parents...
Continue to imagine...

Then imagine that all those commercials are aired thousand of time a week, that your children are seeing them.
What would be the result?
What kind of thoughts they will have?
What kind of desire, needs?

Sunday, November 12, 2006

TV’s Grip on Your Toddler’s Health (part 2)

I really look at this article as a really good one!
The author wonder what toddlers learn from the example of parents spending their time of leisure in front of TV or computer?

Here is an extract and the link where you can read it all:

TV’s Grip on Your Toddler’s Health
By Dr. Richard Visser

"If a child eats while watching TV, she isn’t paying attention to either the food or her stomach, and it can be easy for her to eat until she’s beyond her “full” point. The foods most craved as a snack are the same high-fat, high-sugar, low-fiber products that are being marketed to your child every five minutes during kids’ programming. A 2006 study by the Harvard School of Public Health reported that for every hour a child spent watching TV, they added 167 calories to their diet per day—primarily from foods frequently advertised on TV."

According to his source toddlers must have 60 minutes of physical activity daily (and) should not be sedentary for more than 60 minutes at a time (except when sleeping) in order to prevent obesity.
Well, I do not know what you think but 60 minutes does not seem enough to me...
Then, Richard Visser lists ways to keep the children moving: "Limit the time your kids spend in front of the TV. Keep TVs and computers out of bedrooms...

He cites ways to Prevent Unconscious Eating advocating No TV or games while eating and insist "your kids model your own behavior, so if they see you snacking in front of the TV or computer, they’ll want to do it, too.”

the advertising impact on increaded weight gain

Well I do not agree with the 2 hours a day of TV for children over two, I think it is already two much as I think that 20 minutes/day and not everyday is plenty enough for children between 2 and 5... but other than that, I think this article (found in Los Angeles Family, oct 2006) is good and interesting:

Mass Media & Child Obesity (part one)

The Advertising Impact on Increased Weight Gain
by Dr. Richard Visser

The advertising industry makes junk food seem irresistible, and it may well be, as recent research shows that children could become physically addicted to junk food. In a recent study, Dr. Robert Lustig from the University of California, San Francisco suggests that childhood obesity arises from foods that are high in fat and fructose and low in fiber. When children eat these “insulinogenic” foods, the insulin not only increases the effects of the pleasure-chemical dopamine (making the child want to eat more of the same food) but also reduces the effects of the hormone leptin, making the child want to eat more and be less active.

Everywhere you find children, you find advertisements for these very foods, promising adventure, popularity, fun—and so much more—if they’d only buy and eat some of the product. The Institute of Medicine, which reported in 2004 on childhood obesity following a request by the U.S. Congress, has concluded that “Food and beverage advertising on television influences children ages 2–11 years to prefer and purchase high-calorie and low-nutrient foods and beverages.”

Such early establishment of brand loyalty is irresistible to advertisers, who have also discovered that children under the age of eight cannot distinguish the difference between a commercial and the TV program or movie it appears with. Kids think that commercials are presenting information, and they digest it with the same seriousness as Dora’s advice to “Share toys!”— particularly if it’s Dora who’s saying “Buy and eat this candy!” With your child’s favorite cartoon character urging her every five minutes to eat Fake-Flake cereal, it’s no wonder that she has a temper tantrum when you won’t buy it at the grocery store.

This brings us back to the question of nagging and the other routines kids go through to get the food they want into the grocery cart. The advertising industry has actually researched nagging through psychological studies designed to identify parents who give in to whining (parents who are divorced or have multiple children, for example) and detailed which purchases and outings are a result of whining, a tool for advertisers who want to ensure such purchases and outings happen more often.

Don’t despair. There are many things you can do to outmaneuver the advertising industry and keep your kids out of their grasp.

Turn the TV off during mealtimes. Keep the TV in the family room so you can monitor what your child is watching and for how long. Also, limit TV viewing to two hours a day for children over two and no TV at all for kids under two. Set a timer to ensure your kids are sticking with their two-hour limit. (Internet or video game time is included in those two hours, by the way.)

Does your child know when a commercial starts and her program ends? Watch TV with your child, and identify commercials. Point out when each advertisement begins and ends by using a timer.

Does your child recognize the purpose of commercials? Ask questions like, “What is the commercial selling? Do you want to buy it? Who makes money from this? How are they attracting your attention? Do you think the people in the ad are cool? Happy? Healthy? Why?” Help your child understand that the point of advertising is convincing kids to buy something.

Don’t forget about other types of advertising. Ads are everywhere—see how many different types you can identify together. Go to some online games—the new frontier for advertisers, who relish the long blocks of time players spend engrossed in games—and talk about what they’re selling while you’re playing. Find product placement in website games, movies, and TV, and see how many name-brand products or logos appear. Talk about why those products are there.

Take advantage of the great resources available from organizations like Commercial-Free Childhood ( and the ADA ( Make sure your children take advertisements with a grain of salt instead of that overly generous helping of sugar.

Dr. Richard Visser is the director of the Visser Wellness and Research Center in Aruba, as well as CEO of SimplyH, LLC and Simply Toddler, LLC in Los Angeles. He works worldwide to raise awareness of proper nutrition for healthy and fit toddlers and children.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Baby Einstein video’s syndrome

It seems obvious that Baby Einstein videos are really well promoted. But I wonder who really expose their babies to those?
Sure, somebody gave me one tape when my babies were born and I (not them) screened it, I was horrified. For me it felt like the mini version of music videos, so even before developping the MTV's syndrome, babies will be able to develop the Baby Einstein video's syndrome...

Following is an article from MSNBC: URL: http://www.msnbc. 15499211/

Can you build a brainier baby? Experts doubt that newfangled toys, videos promote smarts
By Victoria Clayton

MSNBC contributor Updated: 4:13 a.m. PT Nov 6, 2006

Since July and August are traditionally the most popular birth months, there are many people out there who are just now discovering a little bundle of joy is headed their way. If you're one of them, after you exhaust the pregnancy books and Web sites, you'll inevitably stumble across the books, videos, DVDs, CDs, toys and exercise devices that promise they can turn your newborn into a mini Mensa member. Undoubtedly, many tots will be getting these gifts from Santa this year.

Some products claim they teach babies to read in several languages, play the violin and do advanced math or computer programming before they're even out of diapers. Others make more vague (and, thus, slightly more reasonable) claims such as “creates engaging learning opportunities” or “specially designed for your baby’s social, emotional, cognitive and physical development.

”The market for infant “developmental” videos and DVDs alone was more than $100 million in the United States in 2004. Nobody knows just how many books, CDs, television shows, toys or activity classes are sold based on the premise that smart kids are made by exposing babies to the proper brain and body stimulation from the minute they open their eyes.

The premise behind this “smarter baby” craze isn’t a bad one, says Claire Lerner, director of parenting resources for Zero to Three, a Washington, D.C.-based nonprofit organization dedicated to advancing the healthy development of babies and young children.

“The attention to brain development lately has really elevated people’s awareness and understanding of how important the early years are socially, emotionally and intellectually,” says Lerner. “That’s a good thing. But, unfortunately, there’s also been a downside. Now it’s causing many parents a tremendous amount of anxiety and pressure.

” Bad parents?

Savvy marketers, says Lerner, have convinced parents that if they don’t use certain products and programs, they’re being negligent. It’s not only not true, but some of the products could actually be counterproductive, experts say.

“As far as infant videos, DVDs and computer programs, for example, a lot of developmental or educational claims are made implicitly or explicitly in terms of testimonials but most of the claims are outlandish and completely false,” says Dimitri A. Christakis, director of the Child Health Institute at the University of Washington in Seattle.

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends no screen time, in fact, in the first two years of life.

Studies have found that even programming such as "Sesame Street" that may be beneficial to older children could be ill advised for babies, says Christakis. “Heavy television and computer usage for children under 2 has been associated with attention problems, as well as cognitive and linguistic delays — no matter what the packaging claims,” he says.

There’s no reason to think toys, classes or exercise programs are harmful, but Lerner warns there’s little evidence either that they’re extremely helpful or worth an enormous amount of time, stress or money. In response, a spokesperson for Baby Einstein, which makes toys and videos, pointed to a statement on the company's Web site that says: "Baby Einstein products are not designed to make babies smarter. Rather, Baby Einstein products are specifically designed to engage babies and provide parents with tools to help expose their little ones to the world around them in playful and enriching ways, stimulating a baby's natural curiosity."

And in a written statement sent to, the company disputed the notion that TV is harmful for young children: "The Baby Einstein Company believes that when used appropriately, television can be a useful learning tool that parents and little ones can enjoy together."

But Lerner contends that what's simplest and cheapest is often best for a baby’s development. “Babies don’t need expensive toys or intricate programs," she says. "They certainly don’t need videos or computers. What they really need is interaction in a loving relationship with people they’re close to.” Exposing a baby to a lot of different stimulus in the first year of life is, indeed, healthy, says Janet Doman, co-author of "How Smart is Your Baby? Develop and Nurture Your Newborn’s Full Potential."

Doman explains that far too many generations of past treated the first year of life like a benign illness. “A ‘good infant’ traditionally was one who slept a lot, kept quite and wasn’t disruptive or inconvenient,” she says.

Now we know more about the brain. We know it’s changing and growing more rapidly during the first year than at any other time. We want babies to move, make noise and interact with their environments.

There’s no guarantee you’ll have an Einstein on your hands, but here are some simple and cheap strategies to help give your baby the best start:Let your baby move and explore. The car carrier, high chair, bouncy seat, swing and stroller should not be in heavy and constant rotation. It’s best for development if babies are able to move freely and eventually explore. When possible, sit with your baby on the floor in a safe area rather than put her in a device. “What we’ve found is that what’s best for the baby developmentally, unfortunately, has little to do with parent convenience,” says Doman, who is also director of The Institutes for the Achievement of Human Potential in Philadelphia, a nonprofit organization that works with brain-injured and well children.

Talk right from the start. You’ll drive non-parents crazy talking to your 3-month-old in the supermarket but, hey, at least you’re not talking politics. “If you’re taking a walk, talk about houses and what color they are, talk about the different animals or point out rocks and leaves,” says Lerner. Conversation lets babies know early on that you want to communicate with them, plus it builds a future vocabulary and helps children learn the way the world works.

Minimize screen time. “Computers are not as passive as television but infant computer games still have no proven developmental benefits,” says Christakis. “They’re just another electronic toy.” Research published in the journal American Behavioral Scientist found that watching a screen is far less developmentally beneficial than watching real life. So let your babe see and feel a real apple or tree whenever possible.

Victoria Clayton is a freelance writer based in California and co-author of "Fearless Pregnancy: Wisdom and Reassurance from a Doctor, a Midwife and a Mom," published by Fair Winds Press.© 2006 MSNBC Interactive© 2006 MSNBC Interactive

Saturday, November 04, 2006

later attention problems for young TV watchers

This is a great article that every parents should read. Extracts:

May 24, 2004 LA Times
Losing focusYoung TV watchers may be at risk for later attention problems.

By Melissa Healy, Times Staff Writer

...But it was not until the publication last month of a study that followed about 2,600 kids from birth to age 7 that researchers were able to draw a firmer line between TV and rampant complaints - from teachers, parents and physicians - of attention problems among American kids.

The study showed that every average hour per day of television programming viewed by a child between the ages of 1 and 3 increased by 10% the probability that the child's parent would report attention problems at age 7. "Limiting young children's exposure to television as a medium during formative years of brain development may reduce children's subsequent risk of developing [attention deficit and hyperactivity disorder]," concluded the study's author, Dimitri A. Christakis of the University of Washington.

Experts on learning disabilities - even those who are deeply suspicious of TV - warned that many other factors, chief among them genetic inheritance, are at work in the twin syndromes known as attention deficit disorder (ADD), and attention deficit and hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Somewhere between 4% and 12% of American kids are believed to suffer from ADD or ADHD, and their behavior typically is marked by difficulty sustaining concentration, trouble organizing themselves and staying on task, and problems with impulse control.

In the last decade, the pace of ADD and ADHD diagnoses has risen dramatically. In the same period, fast-paced programming for children - from "The Wiggles" and "Rugrats" to modern-day "Sesame Street" - has begun to penetrate even households with babies. Several media organizations, including the Walt Disney Co. and Sesame Workshop, have launched major efforts to build and capture the baby-to-toddler audience for video and TV programming.

That concurrent blossoming of early TV exposure and a rise in attention problems has led many experts on early child development to surmise that heavy viewing - especially at an early age - may negatively affect the wiring of some kids' brains, leading to attention problems later. The study published last month didn't distinguish between TV shows aimed at young children and more general programming, but it did find that the incidence of attention problems rises as the level of television exposure increases and in cases where the onset of TV viewing is very early.

"Look, there's smoke here. We need to pay attention to what's happening out there in terms of kids' viewing," says Seattle pediatrician Donald Shifrin, who heads the pediatric academy's public information committee and helped draft its "no screen time for babies" recommendation.

Earlier this month, a trio of Washington lawmakers underscored their rising concern about the effects of television on children - and about the dearth of independent research to guide parents and physicians - by introducing legislation that would set aside $100 million a year for new studies.

"Children today are exposed to more media than ever before," says Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.), who along with Sens. Sam Brownback (R-Kan.) and Joe Lieberman (D-Conn.), drafted the bill. "Parents need to know what effects such exposure has on their children, particularly very young children," she adds.

This week, the Kaiser Family Foundation will be briefing Congress on what is known - and what is not - about children and time spent in front of computer, television and video screens.

The next several years could bring new findings, as the federal government lays plans to launch the most comprehensive survey of American children ever undertaken, following a vast cross section of kids and gauging their lifestyles and their health status from birth to adulthood. Around the country, researchers are meeting to devise questions that could use that survey to clarify the relationship between a child's "screen time" and indicators such as health, school readiness and social adjustment.

"This is a very exciting time," says Ellen Wartella, one of the nation's leading researchers on children and television and soon to be executive vice chancellor and provost of UC Riverside. "We're asking questions not just about media's effects but about children's development and the role of media in that development. That's a subtle but important difference.

Guilt and ambivalence

Television may bring households with children a dose of entertainment, the odd educational moment and a stretch of blessed peace to get dinner on the table. But with the publication of the new attention study, the cost for these benefits seemed to rise another notch, heaping new worries atop the guilt and ambivalence of parents with plugged-in kids.

First came the research linking televised violence and children's aggression. Then came the warnings that TV's constant barrage of advertising was turning our children into consumer automatons. In the last two years, we've been told that TV is making our children obese." ...
"But for all of our worry, have we turned off the TV?

Apparently not, according to a survey of more than 1,000 American families with young kids released by the Kaiser Family Foundation last October. Children younger than 6 are spending on average two hours a day in front of a screen, mostly watching TV or videos. Two out of three such children live in households where the television is on at least half of the day, whether anyone is watching or not, and 36% live in homes where the TV is on most or all of the time.

The Kaiser survey found that more than one in four American kids younger than 3 (and 43% of those between 4 and 6 years old) have a TV in their bedroom - meaning they are far more likely to watch TV unsupervised.

And the TV habit is starting early for many American babies, Kaiser found. In spite of the pediatric academy's recommendation, 43% of children younger than 2 watch TV every day, and about one in three American babies start watching TV before their first birthday.

"We know now that media is a huge part of the lives of kids at the earliest stages. Beyond that, we know very little," says Vicky Rideout, director of the Kaiser foundation's Program for the Study of Entertainment Media and Health.

But the existing research linking TV to attention problems points to trouble.

At a lab at the University of Massachusetts, psychologist Daniel Anderson has spent years watching 1-, 2- and 3-year-olds and their mothers play and interact from behind a one-way mirror. When a baby is classically engaged in exploration of a toy, his heart rate will fall, his little tongue may poke out and his eyes will be fixed upon the object of his scrutiny. He will hunch, his torso motionless, over the toy as his small fingers poke and prod. It may take several callings of his name to draw his attention from his investigations.

Babies whose play regularly looks like this are more likely to reach their developmental milestones on or ahead of schedule, and later will likely score higher on IQ tests.

But with "Jeopardy" on in the background, the same baby's heart rate may race, his eyes will likely dart around the room, and the attitudes of intent scrutiny are replaced with a restless, shifting motion. Compared with an hour playing in silence next to his mother, a toddler moves from one toy or activity to the next at roughly double the speed when the television is in the room, Anderson has found. And when he does appeal to mom for help, it will take more bleating to get her attention and he'll get a shorter interaction, Anderson says.

"The TV is perpetually distracting" to children, Anderson says. "These are very young children, and so the parts of their brains that have to do with attention are not nearly as effective as older children or adults at filtering out background stimulation.

"When the TV is background noise, their ability to sustain attention doesn't have an adequate chance to develop," Anderson says. That, he adds, may lead to problems of attention or other mental functioning as the child develops.

In Japan in 2001, another researcher looked inside older children's brains and drew a similar conclusion. Ryuta Kawashima of Tohoku University used brain-imaging techniques to compare the brain activity of children playing Nintendo games with that of children doing a mental mathematics exercise for a half-hour. The images showed that playing Nintendo games stimulated primarily the parts of players' brains that are involved in vision and movement. But subjects performing an exercise of mental arithmetic showed brain activity throughout the left and right hemispheres of the frontal lobe. In adults, these are the brain areas most involved in carrying out complex intellectual tasks, in learning and memory, and in judgment and impulse control.

*Gratification in an instant

When researchers chew over the meager findings on TV, kids and attention, they bump up quickly against two great unknowns: Does the age of the viewer matter, and will the content of the programming make a difference?

Like many researchers, Dr. Mark Mahone, a neuropsychologist and specialist in attention disorders, describes a child's first two to three years as a "window" during which the brain, embryonic at birth, is turned on, wired up, shaped and ultimately edited by the experiences of her surroundings and her bonds to people. A baby learns from play with people and objects that a parent may withhold a smile, waiting for something more, and that blocks may not stay stacked under some conditions.

But on television, changes come without any effort by the baby - often in rapidly evolving images that last two to three seconds. Exposed to hours and hours of TV during this critical time, the developing brain may come to expect, and even prefer, the immediate reinforcement of TV images and the novelty of quick changes over the plodding effort involved in hands-on experience, says Mahone, of Johns Hopkins University's Kennedy Krieger Institute.

This might make the brightest child lazy or inattentive, Mahone says. And heavy TV viewing in middle-childhood or even in the teen years, he adds, may also set up habits of mind that favor quick changes and instant gratification.

But a child's genetic inheritance is likely the decisive factor in determining whether "attention problems" rise to a diagnosis of ADD or ADHD, Mahone says. In cases where a child has a family history of attention problems, frequent and early TV viewing may nudge that child toward a diagnosable condition. Without that genetic propensity, a child might endure a heavy diet without negative effects, Mahone says.

"I think what we're talking about is perhaps exacerbating some preexisting predisposition.

"Through all the debate, the marketing of TV-for-babies continues. In 1997, the "Baby Einstein" line of videos, audio CDs and other media products were launched. Designed and marketed as brain boosters for babies and toddlers, the line was quickly snapped up by the Walt Disney Co., and a recent survey found that more than one in four households with a baby had at least one of its products. Baby Einstein's website touts parents' testimonials, including the assertion by a parent of a prematurely born infant that watching the Baby Einstein videos "helped increase JJ's attention span." The child is said to have begun watching when 2 months old.

Meanwhile, Sesame Workshop, the nonprofit organization that launched "Sesame Street" 35 years ago, is beginning to explore video products that it says could "help lay the foundation for language development and literacy in children from infancy through age 3."

Jennifer Kotler, the Workshop's assistant director of research, says these young children are watching "Sesame Street" already, and the organization is wrestling with ways to make it age-appropriate for those pint-sized viewers.

" It's a hard balance," Kotler acknowledges, to juggle the "no screen time" recommendation with the fact of younger viewers. And while Kotler lauds the recent attention study as "a good start for a dialogue," she says its failure to address the content of what young viewers watched limits its usefulness.

Kotler and many other researchers, including the University of Massachusetts' Anderson, believe that a limited amount of TV made for children - which keeps narratives simple and moves at a pace a small child can follow - can help build attention skills, empathy and school readiness. But others contend that the medium of television itself - a succession of bright, changing images, taken in passively - leads to problems for kids. It is a central debate that, so far, remains unresolved. "The medium is not the message," says Kotler. ADD specialist Mahone says the idea that television itself may harm some kids' brains "is theoretically sound." But he acknowledges, "there's not much data to back it up.

" Jane Healy, author of "Endangered Minds" (Touchstone Books, 1990) has been deeply critical of those producing children's programming, contending they have hooked a generation of kids on a technological crutch that makes them lazy, inattentive and unimaginative. Healy has assailed "Sesame Street" as contributing to a visual culture of jolting, jerky and eye-popping kids' television that contributes to attention problems.

"Its substitution of surface glitz for substance has started a generation of children in the seductive school of organized silliness, where their first lesson is that learning is something adults can be expected to make happen as quickly and pleasantly as possible," wrote Healy (no relation to this writer) in her widely read book.

Kotler counters that rigorous and ongoing research ensures that 3- to 5-year-old viewers understand and absorb the content of "Sesame Street" - and that those children learn lessons in empathy and caring and have higher rates of school readiness at kindergarten.

But it would take money and research devices not yet in hand to gauge the effects of "Sesame Street's" stories and pacing on younger children, who are not yet able to speak well, adds Kotler. Meanwhile, she notes, the pace and format of "Sesame Street" have been downshifted and more simply organized in the last two years to reflect research on children's attention spans.

In its promotions of Baby Einstein products, Disney notes that the videos, unlike programmed television, can be stopped and discussed by adults watching along with their intended viewers, and that the videos' "gentle motion," and "deliberate pacing" are suited to very young children. Neither the pediatric academy's recommendation nor the recent study take account of those distinctions, the promotions state.

*A call for limits

Even as researchers scramble to fill in the blanks on kids and TV, the Shifrin says parents should heed what he calls the "early storm clouds" suggesting a link between TV and attention problems. Just as when parents assess the risks of letting their child ride a bike without a helmet or serve them a tuna sandwich (the subject of recent warnings about mercury), they should probably err on the side of conservatism and adopt viewing limits, Shifrin says.

For children with a genetic predisposition - a family member with recognized attention problems - these findings offer an even stronger warning for parents, Shifrin adds. "What's the tipping point for youngsters? What tips them into that behavior? We don't know," he acknowledges. But when attention problems seem to run in the family and the TV is turned on early and often, "you've now taken your genetic inheritance and you've pushed it a bit.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

making perfect little consumer...

I remember one of my friend telling me how happy she was to have cut down TV viewing because her children were not so demanding any more...
Before, when watching TV everyday for eventually few hours, they had so many needs and never seem to be satisfied, after, with very little TV viewing, their minds were to busy playing to have time to think about consuming :-)
Here is an interesting abstract:

Effects of Reducing Television Viewing on Children's Requests for Toys: A Randomized Controlled Trial
an abstract from the Journal of Developmental Behavioral Pediatrics 22:179-184, 2001.
THOMAS N. ROBINSON, M.D., M.P.H. Division of General Pediatrics, Department of Pediatrics, and Center for Research in Disease Prevention, Department of Medicine, Stanford University School of Medicine
MELISSA NICHOLS SAPHIR, Ph.D. Center for Research in Disease Prevention, Department of Medicine, Stanford University School of Medicine
HELENA C. KRAEMER, Ph.D. Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Medicine, Stanford University School of Medicine
ANN VARADY, M.S. K. FARISH HAYDEL Center for Research in Disease Prevention, Department of Medicine, Stanford University School of Medicine, Palo Alto, California
Abstract. Previous attempts to reduce the effects of television advertising on children's purchase requests have had little success. Therefore, we tested the effects of a classroom intervention to reduce television, videotape, and video game use on children's toy purchase requests, in a school-based randomized controlled trial. Third- and fourth-grade children (mean age, 8.9 years) in two sociodemographically and scholastically matched public elementary schools were eligible to participate. Children in one randomly selected elementary school received an 18-lesson, 6-month classroom curriculum to reduce television, videotape, and video game use. In both schools, in September (before intervention) and April (after intervention) of a single school year, children and parents reported children's prior week's purchase requests for toys seen on television. After intervention, children in the intervention school were significantly less likely to report toy purchase requests than children in the control school, with adjusting for baseline purchase requests, gender, and age (odds ratio, 0.29; 95% confidence interval, 0.12-0.69). Among intervention school children, reductions in self-reported purchase requests were also associated with reductions in television viewing. There was no significant difference between schools in parent reports of children's requests for toy purchases. These findings suggest that reducing television viewing is a promising approach to reducing the influences of advertising on children's behavior. J Dev Behav Pediatr 22:179-184, 2001. Index terms: television, media, advertising, consumerism, children, toys.

Monday, October 30, 2006

What to do beside TV? any ideas?

Go to the Library or a Local Bookstore
Start a garden
Write a Letter
Take a Walk, a Swim, or a Bicycle Ride
Ice-skate, rollerskate or Roller-Blade
Start a Journal or Diary
Make a Scrapbook or Photo Album
Cook a Meal with Family or Friends
Make paper bag costumes and have a parade
Play hopscotch, hide & seek, or freeze-tag
Learn about the native trees and flowers in your area
Play a Game
Watch the clouds
Look at the Stars
Attend Local Plays and Sports Events
Listen to Music

Sign Up for a Class
Make a friendship bracelet
Visit the zoo
Go to a museum
Climb a tree

Print activities from the web
Write a book with your child
Finger paint
Bunch of craft stuff (construction paper, glue sticks, glitter, all sorts of washable paint and markers)...
Treasure Hunts? Give the child a list of thing she could find?
Make an obstacle course of couch cushions and stray objects in theliving room.
Play charades.
Give kids a screwdriver and let them take apart broken phones and other gadgets.
Challenge the kids to fill a laundry basket with something representing every letter of the alphabet. The catch? It has to be out of place already.
Afterwards, put it all away and fill it with 10 blue things and so on.
Teach them a new card game.
Paint rocks outside.
Turn a large box into a post office, rocket ship, puppet theater,boat....

Quick fun for one year olds...

Go bowling with empty plastic bottles and an orange.
Make tunnels and houses from empty cardboard boxes.
Put an assortment of odd little things in a box (tweezers, a smalltoy, a sparkly rock, a magnifying glass...) and let her explore the mone by one with you.
Paint in the high chair with baby cereal (tint with crushed blueberries, turmeric, cocoa or beet juice for colors).
Find some dirt to dig in.
Fill a large tupperware container with uncooked rice and hide smalltoys in it, then let him use spoons, measuring cups, sticks andfingers to explore it (either do this outside, put a tablecloth on the floor under it, or deal with rice for years though!).
Spread a thin layer of pudding on a cookie sheet and let her draw in it with her fingers...

Check do more, watch less:

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Wolves in Sheep's Clothing

Don’t we all carefully screen friends our children are making?
Don’t we all try to reorient their interest if we have a bad feeling about one of them, may be because we found his/her behavior inappropriate?

I believe we are all becoming very cautious if we do see our little one reproduce the disturbing behavior we did witness in his/her new friend, we may even ask our child to stop spending time with that one…

So why when it comes to TV programs, parents seem to lower their guard?
Do they think that the role model is less dangerous? Why?

Following is an interesting article with links included to look further.

Wolves in Sheep's Clothing: A Content Analysis of Children's Television
March 2, 2006

By Kristen Fyfe


Children today are bombarded by intensely violent images in the movies they watch and the video games they play. Even prime time TV is loaded with violent imagery. But what about programming specifically created for young children?

The Parents Television Council set out to discover exactly what young children are seeing on programming designed uniquely for them. The PTC chose to focus on entertainment programming for school-aged children aged 5-10 on broadcast television and expanded basic cable. Eight networks – four broadcast and four cable – offer programming matching that criteria: ABC, Fox, NBC, WB, ABC Family, Cartoon Network, Disney Channel and Nickelodeon. The PTC focused its analysis on before-school, after-school, and Saturday morning programming. The analysis covered a three week period from the summer of 2005 for a total of 443.5 hours of children’s programming.

The results were staggering. In the 443.5 hours of children’s programming analyzed by the PTC there were 3488 instances of violence -- an average of 7.86 violent incidents per hour. Even when the innocent, “cartoony” violence most of us grew-up with (e.g. an anvil falling on Wile E. Coyote’s head) is extracted, there were still 2794 instances of violence for an average of 6.30 violent incidents per hour. To put this figure in perspective, consider that in 2002 the six broadcast networks combined averaged only 4.71 instances of violence per hour of prime time programming.* Thus there is more violence aimed directly at young children than at adults on television today.

But it is not only violence that is present in today’s programming for children. Sexual innuendo is present. Adult language is present. Trash talking, bullying, and disrespect are present. In its analysis of children’s television the PTC also found:

858 incidents of verbal aggression (e.g. abusive yelling, mean-spirited insults and put-downs) for an average of 1.93 instances per hour
250 incidents of offensive language (such as excretory references or euphemisms for obscene language) for an average of 0.56 instances per hour
595 incidents of disruptive, disrespectful or otherwise problematic attitudes and behaviors for an average of 1.34 instances per hour
275 incidents of sexual content for an average of 0.62 instances per hour

Looking at the individual networks:

Although the Cartoon Network had the highest total number of violent incidents, the ABC Family Channel turned out to pack the most punch-per-program, with 318 instances of violence (only 11 of these could be considered “cartoon” violence) for an average of 10.96 violent incidents per episode.
The Disney Channel had the least-violent children’s programming (0.95 incidents per episode).
The WB had the highest levels of offensive language, verbal abuse, sexual content and offensive/excretory references.
Fox had the lowest frequency of this content.

Too often we dismiss violence in children’s programming as inconsequential; “After all,” the argument goes, “I grew up watching Road Runner cartoons and I turned out okay.” Violence in cartoons, of course, is nothing new. What has changed is that the violence is ubiquitous, often sinister, and in many cases, frighteningly realistic.

Studies have shown exposure to TV violence to be positively associated with aggressive behavior in some children and exposure to sexual content increases the likelihood that children will become sexually active earlier in life. The extended argument implies that exposure to coarse language and disrespectful attitudes will also negatively affect children.

Parents often take it for granted that children’s programs are, by definition, child-friendly. This clearly is not always the case. Unfortunately this faulty assumption has led many parents to let their guard down and allow their children to spend hours watching television unsupervised. Young children are especially impressionable, and they learn social norms and behaviors as readily from television as from their peers or parents. The “Wolves in Sheep’s Clothing” report documents that “children’s television” is no safe haven for children and parents must be extremely vigilant as to what their children are watching.

* PTC Special Report TV Bloodbath: Violence on Prime Time Network TV

Full Report Press Release Statement by L. Brent Bozell Response by Michael Rich, MD, MPH Comments by Senator Brownback Response by Nell Minow "The Movie Mom"

Friday, October 20, 2006

TV Really Might Cause Autism

Posted Monday, Oct. 16 on

< Cornell University researchers are reporting what appears to be a statistically significant relationship between autism rates and television watching by children under the age of 3. The researchers studied autism incidence in California, Oregon, Pennsylvania, and Washington state. They found that as cable television became common in California and Pennsylvania beginning around 1980, childhood autism rose more in the counties that had cable than in the counties that did not. They further found that in all the Western states, the more time toddlers spent in front of the television, the more likely they were to exhibit symptoms of autism disorders...

...Everyone complains about television in a general way. But if it turns out television has specific harmful medical effects—in addition to these new findings about autism, some studies have linked television viewing by children younger than 3 to the onset of attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder—parents may urgently need to know to keep toddlers away from the TV. Television networks and manufacturers of televisions may need to reassess how their products are marketed to the young. Legal liability may come into play. And we live in a society in which bright images on screens are becoming ever more ubiquitous: television, video games, DVD video players, computers, cell phones. If screen images cause harm to brain development in the young, the proliferation of these TV-like devices may bode ill for the future. The aggressive marketing of Teletubbies, Baby Einstein videos, and similar products intended to encourage television watching by toddlers may turn out to have been a nightmarish mistake.

If television viewing by toddlers is a factor in autism, the parents of afflicted children should not reproach themselves, as there was no warning of this risk. Now there is: The American Academy of Pediatrics currently recommends against any TV for children under the age of 2. Waldman thinks that until more is known about what triggers autism, families with children under the age of 3 should get them away from the television and keep them away. >

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

is TV a drug?

Millions of Americans are so hooked on television that they fit the criteria for substance abuse as defined in the official psychiatric manual, according to Rutgers University psychologist and TV-Free America board member Robert Kubey.

Heavy TV viewers exhibit five dependency symptoms--two more than necessary to arrive at a clinical diagnosis of substance abuse. These include:

1) using TV as a sedative;

2) indiscriminate viewing;

3) feeling loss of control while viewing;

4) feeling angry with oneself for watching too much;

5) inability to stop watching;

6) feeling miserable when kept from watching.

Sunday, October 15, 2006

TV watching consequences

I started to study the consequences of television on children a while ago and even started to develop a program who was teaching children how to "read TV or video programs" (media education).

It seems natural to everyone that children learn to read letters and books but not images (media education) and it is a mistake, particularly in our present world where images are getting more and more important.

Parents will not see the consequences of leaving their child watching television before a long time, probably not before he is 6 or 7 years old, however it could happen as soon as 4 years old as it did happen for the child of one of my friend. She rapidly cut down TV time and Video Game.

Lets start with 2 consequences of leaving a child watch TV :

- a lake of imagination: when the child need to escape in imaginary world he will turn on the TV and watch imaginary world that others made for him instead of making its own!

- difficulty to focus and concentrate: I heard many parents happy to see their children learn from television, learn shape, words... I understand that it does seem attractive that way, but the problem is HOW they learn: in a passive absorption of knowledge instead of searching for it. They do not open books, ask questions, interact, they just absorb. It will not be consequences free.

Children do not need TV they need entertainment and yes it is a little more challenging to teach them how to entertain themselves in the few first years (3 to 4 years depending of the child personality) than turning on the TV which is doing the job, but it is worth it! I

In fact it will be better for children to watch no TV or video at all before 3 years old and then no more than 20 minutes a day (and not every day) until 6 or 7 years old and never alone. Watching TV or video has to be an activity among others with no more importance than others, parents need to share it so the child can stay active in front of the screen, ask question, talk about it.

It is as badly damaging for the child if parents are watching TV when he is around, it is called environment pollution.

Below is a a news release of a new policy published in the August issue of Pediatrics, the peer-reviewed scientific journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP). (1999)

CHICAGO - A new policy from the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) urges parents to avoid television for children under 2 years old.

"While certain television programs may be promoted to this age group, research on early brain development shows that babies and toddlers have a critical need for direct interactions with parents and other significant care givers for healthy brain growth and the development of appropriate social, emotional, and cognitive skills," the policy says.

The new AAP statement on media education also suggests parents create an "electronic media-free" environment in children's rooms, and avoid using media as an electronic babysitter. In addition, it recommends pediatricians incorporate questions about media into routine child health visits, as education can reduce harmful media effects.

"With an educated understanding of media images and messages, users can recognize media's potential effects and make good choices about their and their children's media exposure," states the new policy.
According to the AAP, a media educated person understands that:
all media messages are constructed;
media messages shape our understanding of the world;
individuals interpret media messages uniquely; and
mass media has powerful economic implications.
Research strongly suggests that media education may result in young people becoming less vulnerable to negative aspects of media exposure, the AAP says. In some studies, heavy viewers of violent programming were less accepting of violence or showed decreased aggressive behavior after a media education intervention. Another study found a change in attitudes about wanting to drink alcohol after a media education program.
Canada, Great Britain, Australia and some Latin American countries have successfully incorporated media education into school curricula, the statement says. "Common sense would suggest that increased media education in the United States could represent a simple, potentially effective approach to combating the myriad of harmful media messages seen or heard by children and adolescents."
In addition, the AAP emphasized that media education should not be used as a substitute for careful scrutiny of the media industry's responsibility for its programming.
EDITOR'S NOTE: In 1997 the AAP created the media education campaign Media Matters as a way to educate pediatricians to teach families the importance of media literacy.

Sharing experience on the control of TV viewing

There are a lot of parents who want to share their experience on this issue of TV viewing and I wish to open the debate to this exchange, so please do post your comments here, so all of you will benefit from each other as you are not alone in this.
I am finding raising children TV free to be sometime really challenging, particularly when we are invited to somebody else place and I have to mention first that "we cannot come if the TV is on".
Another mom would also be interested to hear how other families deal with the television issue, particularly if you and your spouse are not (or were not) in agreement about it.
Another mom mention to me "what we see on tv largely does not reflect African American culture in a positive, realistic, balanced, nor accurate light. " and that is why her family do not expose her 3,5 years old to it.
There are so many reason, choices and challenge to share...

Friday, October 13, 2006

Tv and repetition

I often compared TV and Tabacco. People who love to smoke do not want to know about the damage that cigarettes are doing to them and if you tell them they careless because their immediate pleasure is more important for them than the whole picture: their future...

The academic of pediatric recommends NO TV before 2 years old at least.

One could start by thinking about the power of REPETITION. All parents repeat over and over and over again little things like "say please and thank you", "brush you teeth before going to bed", or whatever is your priority in behavior, until one day, he get it. Well, repetition works... And that is exactly what people are doing with commercial :-)