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 :-)