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Children and Television and Health

Eddie Mair | 17:22 UK time, Monday, 19 February 2007

You heard the arguments on the programme: what do YOU think? Some comments may feature on the programme on Friday...

Comments

  1. At 05:39 PM on 19 Feb 2007, Big Sister wrote:

    Moderation is the key. Some viewing is undoubtedly stimulating to young children's imagination, so could be beneficial, but prolonged viewing, which isn't sufficiently balanced, by creative play, etc., is unlikely to allow for the rounded development that every child needs if they are to grow up to be resourceful and attentive.

    One little boy I know spends most of his non-school time watching television. He does not play well with other children, and when he does, he tends to repeat the violent patterns he sees in the cartoons shown in much children's t.v. I fear for him in the future, quite frankly, especially since he frets when he is not allowed a screen to view.

  2. At 05:40 PM on 19 Feb 2007, jumper wrote:

    Parents use TV as a pacifier and sedative. It is the soft option and rots childrens brains.

  3. At 05:48 PM on 19 Feb 2007, Chris Ghoti wrote:

    The question about children and television is never going to get a definitive answer, but I agree with Big Sister that moderation in children's viewing as in children's eating, drinking, and anything else would be good -- same as a bit of moderation doesn't generally hurt adults either.

    On the subject of pictures, the blog today has so many pictures that it has no room for content... How about not putting *all* the piccies on the front page?

    And whilst I am being a grouch, it would be pleasant if when I went to a previous day's blog, I got access to all that previous day's threads rather than the first one only. It used to be possible to go back and find something I was interested in, now it seems not to be. So in three days' time all I will see from here will be the thread about television, not that this matters when the rest is all pictures, but...

  4. At 05:48 PM on 19 Feb 2007, chai jones wrote:

    "Television shows you everything and tells you nothing."
    As the Head Learner at a Primary school I advise children and parents to aviod television,limit its use or throw it out altogether. I don't own one and wouldn't give one houseroom. Showing poor examples of social interaction through soap operas, game shows and violent detective 'thrillers' its hardly somewhere we should send children to learn, to feel good about themselves or the world around them. Helping prepare the evening meal, a genuine discussion of the day at school and work, and interactive board games on the livingroom table with a few jokes and a laugh are all great alternatives. Watching television is not an activity and it certainly does not activate the mind the heart or the soul of the young.Chai

  5. At 05:49 PM on 19 Feb 2007, brambo wrote:

    The beginning of our children's 'internal' exile from the potentially civilising influences of their parents and wider families begins with the TV, computer and entertainments centre in their bedroom. This social phenomenon has occurred whilst other time-honoured civilising customs such as the shared family meal has disappeared. How an children and especially boys become civilised if they share more time with the internet or the output of multinational advertisers and entertainers rater than their families? At the end of the day parents buy the TVs, computers, gaming consoles and in doing so are sowing the seeds of conflict, antisocial behavior and anomie in their children.

  6. At 05:51 PM on 19 Feb 2007, angela cross wrote:

    So, cbeebies in moderation is a good thing? Why then does it continually refer to what is coming up next and next and next if not in order to prolong the length of time watched?

  7. At 05:53 PM on 19 Feb 2007, elena wrote:

    As a mother of two yong girls of 7 and 6, I face a daily struggle with the tv, to the point that I am actually considering life without one at all. My children only watch the BBC children's channels, and I generally would agree the quality of the programmes is very good as is the online content to go with them. I also make sure their watching is time limited, generally they choose what programme to watch, the tv comes on then it goes off again, and the tv is certainly not allowed on on school mornings. Sounds good enough? well, if it was up to them, their day they would be scheduled around the tv and they would do little else.
    As far as I am concerned, the problem comes with the battle of wills we face daily, constantly. They do not seem able to use their imagination any more to engage in any other form of play. is generally the line I am faced with. If we make it through the first 30 mins of moans and grumpiness, we may be on the right path. Is it worth it? I wonder more and more often. Perhaps not. Perhaps the tv needs to go and then we will have a normal family life again.

  8. At 05:54 PM on 19 Feb 2007, chai jones wrote:

    "Television shows you everything and tells you nothing."
    As the Head Learner at a Primary school I advise children and parents to aviod television,limit its use or throw it out altogether. I don't own one and wouldn't give one houseroom. Showing poor examples of social interaction through soap operas, game shows and violent detective 'thrillers' its hardly somewhere we should send children to learn, to feel good about themselves or the world around them. Helping prepare the evening meal, a genuine discussion of the day at school and work, and interactive board games on the livingroom table with a few jokes and a laugh are all great alternatives. Watching television is not an activity and it certainly does not activate the mind the heart or the soul of the young.Chai

  9. At 05:56 PM on 19 Feb 2007, Laura wrote:

    The commentators said that it was up to parents to regulate how much time their children watch 'screens'. The trouble with this is that so many parents today have abdicated their responsibility, let their children make decisions and have no concept of that wonderful old-fashioned fail-safe mechansim called COMMON SENSE. So many parents these days kowtow to their children; why? I do not know. But I do know this behaviour is having serious consequences for children and I have seen the effects of this on my own 14-year-old nephew who spends most of his life in his bedroom (where he has a tv and plays games, etc) or in the bedroom of his one and only friend where they stare at screens constantly. He is socially inept, is overweight and has no other friends. I see this as a social disaster and blame his mother entirely for the way he is. It is really so sad.

  10. At 06:09 PM on 19 Feb 2007, toby burtt wrote:

    My mother used to comment that I seemed to learn more from TV than from going to school. Instinctively she had identified my dyslexia and through using a VARIETY of educational inputs (books, radio, tv and film) I easily obtained a Masters Degree later in life.

    Now I work in education as a project officer and have opinions about quality.

    Children's programmes are not as educational as they used to be. Programmes could stop trying to be 'friends' with the viewers and they would be far more effective and watchable.

    Learning without being 'taught' is the most effective learning.

  11. At 06:16 PM on 19 Feb 2007, The Stainless Steel Cat wrote:

    I'm not totally convinced by this study. Let's take a typical Saturday when I was around eight years old...

    I'd start watching (after a breakfast where I'd eat while reading my new comics) something like Flash Gordon, then Swap Shop, then Grandstand, then the afternoon film, then more Grandstand, then the news, then Basil Brush, Doctor Who, The Generation Game, The Two Ronnies and possibly Dixon of Dock Green. All told, over 12 hours in front of the telly.

    Am I an obese weirdo with no communication skills?

    No.
    (Shut up at the back there.)

    Why not?

    Because all that time, I was also reading; writing; drawing; playing with Lego; or playing cards, Scrabble, Monopoly or Chess with my parents.

    I really did watch all thet TV - I could chat all week to my friends at school about the detailed plots of Saturday's Doctor Who episode, or how I would never have swapped a Dinky UFO Interceptor for Mousetrap or anything else I'd seen, but I could also talk to them about the story I'd written, or my latest Lego spaceship or how I'd managed to get a seven-letter word on a double-word-score...

    If the study is right, what's happened to children's multi-tasking skills since I was a kitten?

  12. At 06:20 PM on 19 Feb 2007, Fiona wrote:

    Absolutely agree that moderation is the key, as is the case with everything in life. As a working mother to a 4 year old and 2 year old I am frequently torn between the desire to spend time doing things with them and the sad reality that I have a house to clean, clothes to wash etc and very little time to do that so then yes its true the tv does become a useful babysitter for a short while. That said I think the quality of programming aimed at their age group (i.e. cbeebies) is excellent - on the whole the programmes they see are educational and inspiring - lots of craft programmes inspiring my son to make things for example, Boogie Beebies which gets them up dancing, Something Special; teaching sign language etc. Its beyond that age group that it seems to degenerate into non-stop cartoons, often with a fairly violent theme and of no real quality or substance. Regular froggers on here will know I have talked often about our hopes and plans to move to rural France - with an acre or so of land and lots of pets and the opportunity to live a far more outdoor lifestyle that is my plan (dream!) to keep my two from falling into the same trap. Only today I called into a friend's and her 14 year old was totally transfixed in front of the tv with his play station barely grunting a hello. I would never ban a television from my house because I think it doesn't have to be to that extreme - last night for example my 4 year old and I snuggled up on the sofa watching a couple of wildlife programmes that he was totally fascinated by and learned something from. However I will certainly do everything I can to avoid my children turning into your typical playstation-playing, cartoon network-watching, internet chat room-chatting, silly language texting brain dead teenager that seems sadly all too common now. If you ban everything you disapprove of how can you ever teach children about moderation? We as parents have to instill the idea of "enough is enough" into our children so that can carry that will-power into their adult lives and avoid excessives of any sort.

  13. At 06:29 PM on 19 Feb 2007, Diana Welams wrote:

    Chai, I'm sorry, but what on earth is a 'Head Learner'? Teachers teach and pupils learn. Does that make you head pupil? Or is your job title the sort of corruption of the English language which ought to be banished?
    I must go and sip some calming camomile tea.
    Diana

  14. At 06:36 PM on 19 Feb 2007, Big Sister wrote:

    Yes, SSC, you were doing other things at the same time ...... Sadly, the scene in many living rooms these days will reveal young children glued to the TV and doing nothing else.

    I'm not anti TV, as it happens - nothing wrong with a bit of entertainment, and TV can also be educational. However, nothing can beat personal experience, and you only get that by DOING things!

  15. At 06:43 PM on 19 Feb 2007, Anne P. wrote:

    The point which seemed new to me and struck me most was the suggestion that there is actually modification of the developing brain in the very young (and he seemed to refer to the under 3s here) which meant permanent changes in the ability to concentrate.

    Since the consequences of this are so serious and the research potentially verifiable by repetition, it seems to me essential that someone takes this up to establish (a) whether there really is an effect and (b) whether it is reversible.


  16. At 06:57 PM on 19 Feb 2007, Humph wrote:

    Chris Glub Glub (3)

    When you use the calender to go to threads on other days you actually go to the last entry for that day. I hope that you realise that you can use the "previous" and "next" arrows, that appear between the chairman's entry and the comments from us, in order to go to other threads on that day, or indeed other days.

    H.

  17. At 07:01 PM on 19 Feb 2007, Nick Webster wrote:

    I must confess that I did not catch the TV discussion tonight, but I lived without a TV for eight years and it was great. Now I have kids and a wife, all of whom point blank refuse to give the thing up. And yes, I do watch it occassionally. I even enjoy it sometimes (isn't Jeremy Clarkson a scream?)

    So what's my point? Well a tip for parents, really. You know (with the possible exception of 'The Stainless Steel Cat' - why don't you use your real name?) that the TV has an off button. Teach this to your children. This morning, I told them at about 8am, 'OK guys we're turning the TV off in 10 minutes at the end of the programme. Tell me what you want to do next, and I'll go set it up.' The result - over an hour of painting, followed by playing out with friends. I feel that probably compensated for the brain rotting effects they no doubt experienced earlier.

    And yes, we did have some clearing up to do after the painting. Being a parent is noisy and messy, but TV is anesthetic and should be used in moderation only to avoid the side effects. That, surely, is common sense!

  18. At 07:05 PM on 19 Feb 2007, yogabird wrote:

    just discussed this with my daughters, age 5 & 3 (well, with the big one really) We're going to introduce 2 tv free days each week, one of which is a weekend day, and they are going to think of other things to do. I am really looking forward to this since i rarely switch it on if there's no-one else in the house and would love an experiment to get rid of it. Sadly, my husband will hear nothing of this 'craziness', being something of an addict!

  19. At 07:15 PM on 19 Feb 2007, Gillian wrote:

    I agree with everything that has been said about moderation, and would argue that there are programmes which do indeed activate the mind, heart and soul. I have a 15-year-old son who watches lots of telly, plays video games, and uses the computer to do research, communicate and play. He also plays some sport or other four evenings a week and at the weekend as well as during the school day. He is fit and healthy and does well at school.He also has a wide circle of friends who socialise without resorting to using any kind of screen or displaying any anti-social behaviour. If this were not the case I would moderate his screen-time.I have in the past removed the telly and the games console when he was not concentrating enough on his school work. Most parents I know use their common sense, and this is another example of how one theory will never fit all families.

  20. At 07:23 PM on 19 Feb 2007, Nick Webster wrote:

    Good on you, yogabird! Why don't we get together for a Radio evening, leaving the spouses babysitting in front of the Box?!?

  21. At 07:29 PM on 19 Feb 2007, terry wrote:

    An excess of anything usually has unpleasant side-effects. TV is no exception.

  22. At 09:11 PM on 19 Feb 2007, inez wrote:

    'Television, the drug of the nation' so sung the Disposable Heroes of Hiphoprisy (for full lyrics see http://www.samulilintula.net/netti/tv.html%29

    The problem, as the research seems to suggest, isn't content but the medium itself. It's fast-paced, hypnotic, passifying, addictive nature.
    Why, for example, are so few of us mobilised to take action to remedy society's ills? Perhaps it's because we are being hypnotised/drugged by television. Not just the young, all of us.

    Personally I would like to see all personal ownership of television banned.
    Radical, I know and as my friends keep pointing out 'the whole country would be up in arms'. Indeed this action would probably mobilise around 90 percent of the population, when the fact that our planet is facing destruction mobilises perhaps a mere 10 percent to actually actively do something about it.

    But hey, instead of each of us sitting in front of our own little box, we could have a 'community television'. 'What community?' I can hear you asking. Exactly. Another effect of television that is often overlooked is its role in the demise of community. We don't need others anymore for our entertainment, company, education. We literally lose touch with other human beings.

    If we got rid of personal televisions we could still enjoy the good things about it, without suffering the arguments with our children, the addiction, isolation, brain mutation etc.

    Let's stop pretending we are in control of something that so obviously controls us.
    Challenge yourself: switch it off, get together with friends, talk, laugh, joke, tell stories, plan a revolution...

    Inez

  23. At 10:49 PM on 19 Feb 2007, Stewart M wrote:

    I have to agree with Fiona's comments . The small childrens programmes are, I feel, on the whole great. Boogie Beebies gets my three year old up and dancing. Once you start trying to cater for 6-15 year olds its too difficult.

    Mine, 6&3, I feel watch too much TV. But its on and not always watched. They get bored and walk away, draw, play come and talk to parents (well its usually Daaaaaaad can I have ...... or Daaaaaaaaad I'm hungry etc.)

    TV being on and then parents basically ignoring the kids is teh problem not the TV as a tool.

    And I can't get the hang of the signing.

  24. At 10:53 PM on 19 Feb 2007, Alex wrote:

    I agree with the comments made byToby, Fiona and the Stainless Steel Cat.

    I am a single parent, I try to do as much as possible with my daughter outside school.

    However the world has changed much since the 70's when I was a child. I would love her to be able to go outside and have adventures of her own with friends. But there are some important difference which need to be stated :-

    The sense of community has gone. Not many people would get involved if they see a child in trouble;

    Fields and woods have been bought up for housing and development;

    Local parks are often vanderlised, have broken glass, condoms and if your really unlucky used needles lying around;

    Mobile phones are a double edged sword. They can allow you to get help, but can also be used for sick individuals to organise attacks on unsuspecting individuals (happy slapping); and

    Cars are more readily available, which means that monsters can cruise along looking for children. This is not paranoia, my sister and brother were nearly abducted this way on seperate occassions, and they weren't young children at the time.

    I also watched a fair amount tv. in my youth and have retained much knowledge from television documentries and other types of programs.

    It's very easy to blame parents for all social ills, but take a look at the big picture.

    Balance in all things

    Alex

  25. At 10:56 PM on 19 Feb 2007, Fifi wrote:

    Gossipmistress - you go right on being Gossipmistress as long as you like. If it's good enough for me and Yogabird, it's good enough for you!

    * atchoo! *

    Fifi

    PS Nick Webster ... don't be offended, it's great to have robust debate on the blog, but personal comments like that don't go down too well around here.

    I'm sure you didn't mean it horribly! ;o)

  26. At 11:24 PM on 19 Feb 2007, jonnie wrote:



    When I heard this trailed this morning on BBC News 24 with the words
    "And coming up later, how your children could turn in to telly tubbies if they sit and watch television all day" , I felt compelled to make a comment on the beach regarding the clear 'lack of news' which I did.

    When I realised that PM was covering it as a news story I was surprised.

    With the greatest respect to tonight’s editor, was it Jeremy? I feel that the majority of Froggers would have dodged that one as a PM story.

    Now if Dr Aric Sigmund (an Associate Fellow of the British Psychological society) has nothing better to do than conduct 35 academic studies in why kids might be better off reading or playing than sitting in front of the box all day then he needs a more productive job to do. What a load of tosh!

    This was an interview about the obvious. I've heard Aric before on this topic and listening to the references to Melatonin levels I very nearly flipped to 2CR! (A local mindless radio station)

    And as for poor Richard Deverell, being wheeled in to defend this rubbish! .. What was that all about?

    The only two comments above that I agree with are 'The Stainless steel Cat's (who's name I love) and Terry.

    Even you, Eddie, pushing Richard on Televisions in kid's bedrooms, parents are aware - and if not, they won't be listeners to Radio 4.

    I was shocked at the whole interview -- mainly because, as said, it was on Radio 4, and secondly because the main reason I listen to Radio 4 is because I have a base level of intelligence.

  27. At 11:27 PM on 19 Feb 2007, jonnie wrote:

    Oh and I agree with Stewart .. but he just popped up!

  28. At 11:59 PM on 19 Feb 2007, Ed Iglehart wrote:

    There was a related matter as subject on channel 4 (a TV channel) last night. It concerned feral children and the apparent fact that language development in humans only takes place in a relatively narrow window,, e.g. before seven or eight years of age. And that after that the capacity is severely degraded or absent.

    Just thinking that isolation within a TV doiminated world may be little different from being raised by dogs or apes.

    xx
    ed

  29. At 12:19 AM on 20 Feb 2007, jonnie wrote:



    When I heard this trailed this morning on BBC News 24 with the words
    "and coming up later, how your children could turn in to telly tubbies if they sit and watch television all day" , I felt compelled to make a comment on the beach regarding the clear 'lack of news' which I did.

    When I realised that PM was covering it as a news story I was surprised.

    With the greatest respect to tonights editor, I feel that the majority of Froggers would have dodged that one.

    Now if Dr Aric Sigmund (an Associate Fellow of the British Psycological society) has nothing better to do than conduct 35 academic studies in why kids might be better off reading or playing than sitting in front of the box all day then he needs a job to do.

    This was an interview about the obvious. I've heard Aric before on this topic and when I heard the references to Melatonin levels I very nearly flipped to 2CR! (A local mindless radio station)

    And as for poor Richard Deverell, being wheeled in to defend this rubbish! What was that all about ?

    The only two comments above that I agree with are 'The Stainless steel Cat's (who's name I love) and Terry.

    Even you, Eddie, pushing Richard on television's in kid's bedrooms.

    I was shocked at the whole interview -- mainly because it was on Radio 4.

  30. At 12:29 AM on 20 Feb 2007, Aperitif wrote:

    Blimey, an awful lot of lurkers have suddenly become vocal on this thread! Welcome all!

  31. At 12:56 AM on 20 Feb 2007, Aperitif wrote:

    I really don't like the term "kids" to be used in place of "children". Something about it jars with me; it seems so... disrespectful. Is it just me? People do seem to bandy it about without concern.

  32. At 01:06 AM on 20 Feb 2007, ian hart wrote:

    Having recently studied an on-line overview of happiness research, it emerges that there are two distinct states which can be experienced: one is the excited or elated mood and the other is that of peace, at-oneness and tranquility. And in fact, the most pleasurable state is where both these emotiions occur simultaneously.
    So, bearing this in minc, I ask you, when was the last time and if so, how often do you feel this when sunk in front of your purported-to-be enjoyment generator.
    I would hazard a suggestion that he who exercised his creative energies in the production of the programme or who watches the result of his artistic endeavours is the real one who reaps the available rewards.
    Who at the end of their life have you ever heard regretting the fact that they didn't watch more? What do you remeber better, your favourite TV or meaningful life experiences? Doesn't real life offer the potential for much richer pickings?

  33. At 01:57 AM on 20 Feb 2007, jonnie wrote:

    Amazing Appy eh! -- For a 'no news' story!

    However I was always taught at 'Journalism school' -- 'if you want to get them talking discuss what's being talked about in the local pub!'

    It's normally one of very few topics!

    1) The Weather
    2) Everything cost more when we went Decimal
    3) Everything’s going up in price despite Decimal
    4) The Weather
    5) Hanging -- Should the Death sentence....

    6) Melatonin rise in urine **Shock horror report** is your kid watching too much telly!!

    7) The Weather
    8) The Radio 4 theme tune
    9) The Archers
    10) Dear Feedback, my picture still hasn't appeared in Eddies 'Windows of YOU World! Could I have a John Humphry's Egg cup to make up for their error!

  34. At 06:28 AM on 20 Feb 2007, The Stainless Steel Cat wrote:

    Nick (17):

    Interesting point there. If people on this blog know me as The Stainless Steel Cat, as do people on the USENET newsgroups, and on various web places, in what way is it not a "real" name?

  35. At 06:58 AM on 20 Feb 2007, The Stainless Steel Cat wrote:

    Big Sister (14):

    That's depressing. Can it just be increased telly-watching that's destroyed the multi-tasking abilities of young children? Or is it some societal change that's raised the status of telly?

    Incidentally, I've realised that thirty years on, I still write and play with Lego while watching telly, as shown by this (rather lazily put-together) web-site:

    http://web.mac.com/catofsteel/iWeb/Site/Welcome.html

    Oh yes, and Nick, if you're desperate to know my other real name, it's on there somewhere...

  36. At 08:20 AM on 20 Feb 2007, Vyle Hernia wrote:

    Appy,

    I also dislike the word, "Kids." [for real kids refer to blog about goats under Vyle H].

    Another expression I dislike is "Hi" - which I found myself using yesterday - gaaah.

    BTW, congratulations on at last eliciting a message from Chairman Mayor.

  37. At 08:55 AM on 20 Feb 2007, Big Sister wrote:

    AnneP: I agree - this developmental aspect is extremely worrying and I wonder how much of the epidemic of ADHD diagnoses may be related to it. Thinking back to my own childhood, I probably watched about 30 minutes of children's television daily maximum from the age of, at a guess, 3 or 4. I also 'Listened with Mother', which helped develop listening and storytelling skills, as well as developing my vivid imagination(!) - seriously, visualisation is an important skill which helps develop imagination and creativity. I suspect, too, from my knowledge of cognitive psychology, that the stimulation of these areas of the brain are important in the development of neural pathways, etc., and, conversely, the lack of such stimulation could result in atrophy.


    Alex: I don't think people underestimate the pressures upon parents these days, and the way the options for some appear very limited, especially when urging children to go out and play with their friends in the street would also raise different, but equally valid, issues. However, it is possible to encourage children to engage more in gameplaying with friends and in taking up inexpensive hobbies. It may take a bit of time at the outset, but it does reap rewards over time. For the record, while I was lucky enough to live with both parents, they both worked, from necessity, full time throughout my childhood from my sixth birthday onwards , so my own position was not particularly privileged.

    Inez and others: I think the changing nature of the content of children's TV in particular is possibly part of the problem. I agree that TV programmes which have education at their heart - and I include within this programmes such as Blue Peter (and, incidentally, isn't it interesting that this remains such a popular programme nearly 50 years on?) - have great merit. However, a great number of other programmes, in particular cartoons, I would suggest, overstimulate some senses, which may be fine in small doses (but if you have a cartoon channel available in your home, your child is likely to want to watch such shows on more than an occasional basis). There is a need to balance hyperactive images with programmes which require the brain to follow and concentrate. This doesn't happen in some households.

    Jonnie: I'm sorry the discussion is getting you down. Like you, I don't have any children, but I worked with children for many years and still have a great deal of contact with children of all ages now. I am concerned about their long term welfare and worried by the difficulties that too many children are experiencing one way and another as they grow up. Anything we can do to help them along the way can only be to their good - and, by the way, to ours ultimately.

  38. At 08:55 AM on 20 Feb 2007, Deepthought (John W) wrote:

    Aperitif (31), Vyle (36),

    As a child, I hated to be referred to as a kid, or more usually, with brother, as "the kids". This was never done by my parents, but the more casual acquantances when they bumped into them, for example in the market. I don't usually use the expression myself, unless I *do* mean to be disrespectful.

    "Hi" does seem to have caught on a bit more in my family, though, and although I don't intend to, I suppose that I do use it myself on occasion, especially if informality is the tone I wish to adopt.

    As I don't have children, I was not intending to comment here, but with the usual ability of the frog to veer off in unexpected directions.


  39. At 09:19 AM on 20 Feb 2007, witchiwoman wrote:

    Kind of interesting but not....I would have preferred to hear what studies/from where/how old the info/was kind of programmes were involved. All a bit sketchy and not really enough depth for me.

    Also still confused about why the link with autism was made in some trails/soundbites then not really discussed. I have a cousin, not quite teenage yet, who has been diagnosed as autistic. His parents, intially, seemed to want to find someone/thing to blame and I'm just wondering if this latest link will take the place of the MMR demon for some. (In his case I can't recall a lot of tv being watched in his early years but he certainly, now, seems to be able to relate more to film/cartoon characaters than those around him).

    Apart from that I can't really comment from comparative experience as I don't have children but I do concur that when I was growing up there was some tv around, but mostly we were out playing, inventing stories and games with neighbouring kids...tv was for wet days and even then we would generally end up watching films, or it would be on in the background. I can not really remember a time when we would sit and just watch the box (indeed, this only happens infrequently now - unless my brain is completely fried and multi tasking is completely beyond me).

    In general though, the recent bits of childrens tv I have seen on terrestrial is fairly dire...I think if I were to have any wee witchis the box would probably be relegated to a side room or only limited viewing allowed (for adults and offspring)

    Seeing as I didn't think I had much of a view on that I seem to have rambled alot!

    WW (I'm going to keep my nickname too!!)

  40. At 09:30 AM on 20 Feb 2007, Belinda wrote:

    I think that the CBeebies spokesman on yesterday's programme nailed the problem "CBeebies is aimed at 6-7 year old group" - why is any television channel 'aimed' at children? Surely the best deterrant to stop children watching the television for hours upon end is to stop catering significant portions of the schedule for them directly.

    I don't think there is an inherent problem in letting children watch television occasionally, but no child needs a TV in their bedroom where viewing is unregulated, and it certainly does not help that the entire culture of celebrity, leisure and media in this country,(and beyond) is built around the world of television.

  41. At 09:34 AM on 20 Feb 2007, Big Sister wrote:

    AnneP: I agree - this developmental aspect is extremely worrying and I wonder how much of the epidemic of ADHD diagnoses may be related to it. Thinking back to my own childhood, I probably watched about 30 minutes of children's television daily maximum from the age of, at a guess, 3 or 4. I also 'Listened with Mother', which helped develop listening and storytelling skills, as well as developing my vivid imagination(!) - seriously, visualisation is an important skill which helps develop imagination and creativity. I suspect, too, from my knowledge of cognitive psychology, that the stimulation of these areas of the brain are important in the development of neural pathways, etc., and, conversely, the lack of such stimulation could result in atrophy.


    Alex: I don't think people underestimate the pressures upon parents these days, and the way the options for some appear very limited, especially when urging children to go out and play with their friends in the street would also raise different, but equally valid, issues. However, it is possible to encourage children to engage more in gameplaying with friends and in taking up inexpensive hobbies. It may take a bit of time at the outset, but it does reap rewards over time. For the record, while I was lucky enough to live with both parents, they both worked, from necessity, full time throughout my childhood from my sixth birthday onwards , so my own position was not particularly privileged.

    Inez and others: I think the changing nature of the content of children's TV in particular is possibly part of the problem. I agree that TV programmes which have education at their heart - and I include within this programmes such as Blue Peter (and, incidentally, isn't it interesting that this remains such a popular programme nearly 50 years on?) - have great merit. However, a great number of other programmes, in particular cartoons, I would suggest, overstimulate some senses, which may be fine in small doses (but if you have a cartoon channel available in your home, your child is likely to want to watch such shows on more than an occasional basis). There is a need to balance hyperactive images with programmes which require the brain to follow and concentrate. This doesn't happen in some households.

    Jonnie: I'm sorry the discussion is getting you down. Like you, I don't have any children, but I worked with children for many years and still have a great deal of contact with children of all ages now. I am concerned about their long term welfare and worried by the difficulties that too many children are experiencing one way and another as they grow up. Anything we can do to help them along the way can only be to their good - and, by the way, to ours ultimately.

  42. At 09:44 AM on 20 Feb 2007, David, Norwich wrote:

    The real problem is that no matter how damaging television might be, no matter how many people might begin to agree that it is damaging, how on earth can it be controlled or stopped?

    For an extreme example, imagine what would happen if a Bill was presented to Parliament banning television - those in charge of the media companies involved (including the BBC, I'm afraid) would unleash their full fury, and do everything destroy both the Bill and those who proposed and supported it. (This would include the printed press whose existance these days is completely intertwined with television.)

    Those in power rely on the support of television and the press.

    I know that was an extreme example (but we do try to ban handguns so we could try to ban televisions) - but at the moment that would apply to ANY attempt to control or moderate television output.

    David
    Norwich

  43. At 10:01 AM on 20 Feb 2007, Big Sister wrote:

    Belinda: I don't think there is a problem with specific programmes being targetted at certain age groups. The spokesman's comment merely reflected, I believe, their (generally praiseworthy) aim of producing programmes which relate to a child's developmental progress.

  44. At 10:22 AM on 20 Feb 2007, Molly wrote:

    Diane (13)
    Thank goodness for your response to 'Head Learner' in an earlier posting!
    At first glance I thought it must be a gifted child responding- strange!

    R egarding too much t,v. and having missed the programme(!,) can only say,in my opinion, that television at the expense of social interaction or phsical activity
    is bound to be detrimental to the child. On the other hand there is something deeply satisfying about sharing the enjoyment of selected programmes with your children, time permitting.
    We have never allowed televisions in the childrens' rooms-never been an issue! At one point, I nearly threw the t.v away.
    Then I remembered the "off" switch!

    Tough work, bieng a parent!

    Mollyxx

  45. At 10:36 AM on 20 Feb 2007, Annasee wrote:

    Fascinating discussion so far. Interesting how so many of us are against tv!

    We're not a house of "rules", but a simple tv management tool over our daughter's lifetime (9 years) has been "no tv in daylight". Not for her benefit, but rather any visiting friends who might want to sit in front of the screen instead of playing! (We made an exception for the Q Mother's funeral, & the occasional Trooping of the Colour type stuff.)

    I can't see that little (ie pre-school) children need tv at all, & ours didn't see any "children's " programmes ever. Because we home- educate & she has never been to school or nursery, there was never peer - group pressure to see programmes, & most of our home- ed friends don't own a tv. She is constantly busy & never complains she is bored, reads voraciously, & is constantly drawing & making things. Of course, this is much messier than nice clean tv watching, but I really believe the payback in the long run is so much more worthwhile!

    We do occasionally watch things together, sometimes Springwatch, or Gillian McKeith shouting at the junk food addicts (yep, we're food evangelists too, how boring can you be?). It was funny when a couple of years ago, our tv blew up. Daughter & I were quite happy not to replace it, but it was Daddy who looked traumatised & muttered "gosh that would be very brave..." so in the end we let him get another. He grew up with tv, I didn't. I read for fun, all the time, he doesn't. What does that show?

  46. At 11:01 AM on 20 Feb 2007, jonnie wrote:

    Another point, Aric mentioned fast editing as one particular factor -- has anybody actually watched any of Cbeebies -- name me one programme that has any fast editing.

    Re; BigSister,

    It was all a tad unbalanced as Richard Deverell was trying to defend Childrens BBC, whereas Aric was talking about television as a whole. CITV, Cartoon network.

    My two neices in Holland probably have far too much 'screen time' -- they seem to be doing well and tend to moderate their own televisual habits. They are now into series like 'The Blue Planet'

    There is a wealth of fabulous televison programmes, someone on a previous thread was being rather smug about the fact that they never watched and did not own a set. I personally feel they must miss out on a lot.

  47. At 11:01 AM on 20 Feb 2007, Belinda wrote:

    Big Sister (43): Have there been any studies which have shown that children's television does actually help their development and progress? Do children in TV-less households perform less well in school, are less willing to learn, are less knowledgable of the world around them, are more disruptive to society etc?

    I'm not making a point here, I'm genuinely interested to know. If TV programmes do not help children either socially or educationally, how is children-oriented programming beneficial at all?

    Of course, you could delete the word 'children' from above and insert 'adults' - the same applies. Children learn their behaviour from their parents (at least until school-age when peer groups take over) so perhaps if adults reduce their daily TV consumption, then their children may follow.

  48. At 11:12 AM on 20 Feb 2007, jonnie wrote:

    Re: Annasee,

    Do you think then that television has had any detrimental effect over your (SO)

  49. At 11:14 AM on 20 Feb 2007, Ed Iglehart wrote:

    May I be the first to congratulate Chai, the Head Learner for recognising that if we're not learning, we probably aren't teaching as well as we might.

    I'm fortunate enough to have never seen TV until I was thirteen years old, but can easily believe that too much of it could easily impair development in the crucial first few years as compared above to being raised in isolation from human contact.

    I've been really enjoying the book of the week on the savant/autistic syndrome.

    xx
    ed

    P.S. as to the myths absorbed while watching 'kids' TV, see this.

    We must examine the Myth of Redemptive Violence, the operative myth of the modern world, the ancient root of power systems and belief structures, which is at the heart of the domination system. This myth goes back beyond Judeo-Christian myths and has its origins deep in the Enuma Elish, the Babylonian creation story. It is rehearsed every Saturday in children's television cartoons and also in westerns, comics and much more; it saturates much modern political thought and the national security mentality. The form is simple: underdog is beaten nearly to destruction by an evil foe, miraculously rises up (or is miraculously aided) and defeats (but never fully destroys) the villain.
  50. At 11:29 AM on 20 Feb 2007, Francois Nel wrote:

    Only caught a snippet of the report that has sparked this debate [Note to BBC: please post a podcast of it on the PM site], but was reminded more than a little of the discussion re alcohol use and abuse.

    At the same time that reports about alcohol abuse by children have made the top of news bulletins, Fortune magazine ran a cover feature on the medicinal powers of red wine. This simply illustrates (again) that public perspectives on the issue range from advocating abstinence to promoting indulgence. The contribution by public health professionals - and the some industry players - has been to preach 'responsible use' AND to articulate what that means, i.e. guides on how many units a day is acceptable, etc.

    Suggestion: Perhaps the BBC - as the public broadcaster - could work with researchers such as Dr Arik Sigmund to develop guidelines on what 'responsible use of television/screen time' is AND articulate clearly by suggesting to parents (and others) how many minutes/ hours a day of 'screen time' would be acceptable.

  51. At 11:38 AM on 20 Feb 2007, jonnie wrote:

    Re; Ed I

    How different things would have been had you been brought up in the UK and had television though Ed!

    All the things that Valery Singleton taught us as kids - sorry (children).

    I bet I can do more things than you can with a bit of sticky back plastic, an empty washing up liquid bottle and a toilet roll.

  52. At 11:39 AM on 20 Feb 2007, Simon Worrall wrote:

    Belinda;
    I tend to concur with BigSis' comments about age-targetting. Of course, on the commercial channels it does make it easy for the advertisers to tailor their offer to particular age-groups also.

    You can't legislate against this kind of thing without either entering into a nanny-state or ultimately a police-state mentality. It has to come down to parents exercising a due measure and control over their offsprings' habits. That's what is missing these days. Mums and Dads cave in far too easily to buying the latest fad-dish gadgets, trainers, toys etc. just to keep the little sods quiet and stop the nagging.

    Kids do not need a TV in their bedrooms. That's an absolute no-no in my book. Give a child a TV and that's the end of family life. We don't really need Sky either (other brands of multi-channel TV are available). Freeview gives you 50-odd channels of crap (including Radio 4 for Eddie's own brand of crap and FiveLive Sports Extra for Test Match Special)), Sky gives you, what?, 600 channels? Ten time the choice of crap for a princely £500 a year. Whoopee. And we bitch about the license fee at a fraction of that!

    Not forgetting that every TV needs its own license, so two children means nearly £400 for licensing alone. Add a full Sky package, plus extra feeds for the childrens rooms means a bill in excess of £1000 a year for total dross.

    Why?

    Si.

  53. At 11:43 AM on 20 Feb 2007, Rachel wrote:

    My first child watched no television at all in his early years. When he was about 4, I began to show him Teletubbies and parts of it scared him witless! He had real problems when he started school because they occasionally used video clips as part of the lessons and he couldn't focus on them, or found the most innocuous things frightening. I realised then that watching television is a skill to be learned like any other.

    So, I introduced it gradually and tried to watch it with him so I could help him make sense of it. I still restrict it and would never allow any of the children to have their own set or a computer in their bedroom.

    Computer games, however, appear to be taking over our household but I'm not convinced about the idea that they destroy children's social skills. The children love nothing more than to invite friends over to share their games and talk about them constantly.

  54. At 11:45 AM on 20 Feb 2007, Fiona wrote:

    Well a fascinating debate for sure! Perhaps I am taking some comments a little too personally (a consequence of the guilt that I constantly feel over whether or not I am doing right and good enough for my children), however, I do feel the television should be banned attitude is a little extreme (Inez - 22). Why on earth should it be banned? Individual ownership is down to individual choice - those that choose not to own or watch tv are doing so by their own choosing and I respect that. But I for one enjoy tv - and yet somehow I feel a little bit guilty owning up to that! I will absolutely refuse to allow my children a tv in their room when they are bigger, but I have no intention of ever living without one.
    Annasee (45), home educating my children is simply not an option for us. Financially we both have to work and besides I do not possess the skills and ability to give my children the standard of education I wish them to have. But as I said before (and as Stewart agreed with) the quality and educational value of cbeebies programmes is on the whole very good. Big Sister (43) you summed up what I am trying to say here perfectly. And Molly (44) absolutely agree about the satisfaction of watching select programmes together - as I think I mentioned in my earlier post, my 4 year old was fascinated by all the animals we saw on a wildlife programme together and he learned something from that. He was also engrossed in Kris Marshall reading on Jackanory Junior the other day - what is the difference between that and his teacher reading from a book to the whole class??
    Its knowing what to watch and what to avoid is the key - knowing where the off switch is and letting them know in no uncertain terms that it will be used when its time to go out/play/eat/talk etc. There are some excellent programmes on tv and there is some utter rubbish - the key is in being able to tell the difference and to know when to turn it off, and to teach your children to do the same for later in life.

  55. At 11:47 AM on 20 Feb 2007, jumper wrote:

    Are there any radio (digital?) progs for children and if not why does the BBC not try and make some good ones?

  56. At 11:49 AM on 20 Feb 2007, Big Sister wrote:

    Belinda: I'm sorry, I didn't express myself well in my earlier posting, to which you've responded.

    What I was intending to say was that responsible channels, such as CBBC, produce programmes that are geared towards a specific stage in a child's development. This is rather complex, and I don't want to make another overlong posting, so would refer you to the following websites, which might help illustrate the points I was struggling to make.

    Re TV and child development:
    http://www.bbc.co.uk/cbeebies/grownups/children_learn/technology/children_tv/

    Re Child Development stages (there's a brief breakdown here):
    http://www.raisingkids.co.uk/dev/dev.asp

  57. At 12:08 PM on 20 Feb 2007, jonnie wrote:

    Re: jumper,

    Yes there are some programmes. Radio 4 has one every Sunday evening called Go4it presented by Barney Harwood.

    Also there are 3 hours on BBC7 every afternoon. The little Toe show and the big toe show.

    It's rather amusing especially when they wiggle.

  58. At 12:11 PM on 20 Feb 2007, Anne P. wrote:

    Jonnie and Ed I. I too grew up without television, my parents eventually buying a Bush set when I was about 12. It had four push buttons at the front in preparation for the day when there were more than 2 channels!

    I listened endlessly to the Scottish Home Service, including schools programmes such as 'How things began' when at home ill, and read up to three books a day. I still prefer speech radio to TV and music channels.

    But I've just caught the end of a programme about Joyce Grenfell, singing a wonderful song called "I wouldn't go back to the world I knew" and like it or not TV is here to stay.

    As I suggested above, we need some good quality research to establish whether the bad effects of TV on children are due to the neglect of social interaction and provision of varied experiences, or to some permanent damage to the developing brain.

  59. At 12:19 PM on 20 Feb 2007, Ed Iglehart wrote:

    Jonnie (51),

    Ah, but I had a farming stepfather who, like most true farmers was a multi-skilled, all-capable human, as were his father and mother with whom we shared the farmhouse, barn, outdoor privy, and all. I learned to follow the plow with Grandpaw Fletcher and his old horse, to drive tractors and trucks and bulid dens in the hayloft.

    I don't reckon we'd have missed TV if we'd even heard of it. We did gather around the radio in the kitchen to listen to the Lone Ranger, Johnny Dollar (special investigator), The Shadow, Gene Autry, Roy Rogers (with Dale Evans and Trigger),.....

    The kitchen was warmed by a big wood range on/in which all the cooking was done, and My fiorst ever 'chore' (a great honour) was to split the kindling in the adjoining woodshed, where also chickens were beheaded from time to time. We had fresh milk, hand-milked from a couple of cows (the rest reared their own calves), and sometimes pigs and later pork.

    All this, and I'm only 65. It really wasn't all that long ago, but the world has changed beyond imagining.

    Decades ago, We mostly walked to work, Side by side with friends & neighbours We worked and walked together, Ate, drank, fought, loved & raised the young together, Grew old, returned to local soil together.

    Now it's better,
    We have improved communications,
    Roads & hyperspace, phones, TV, & cyberspace,
    Keep us 'in touch' with world events,
    Our glazed & insulated capsules keep us safe and warm,
    And free from nosy, noisy, noisome neighbours.

    http://home.btconnect.com/tipiglen/anewspecies.html


  60. At 12:22 PM on 20 Feb 2007, The Stainless Steel Cat wrote:

    Simon (52):

    Where do you live? Here in the UK, a TV Licence covers a household rather than individual TVs.

  61. At 12:38 PM on 20 Feb 2007, Big Sister wrote:

    Si: For what it's worth - you only need one TV licence per household, not per TV. The confusion arises in instances where there are houses of multiple occupancy, including student houses, where the situation is different. But if you have two + TVs in your house, you don't need additional licences.

    Now, must move on as David Cameron is on You and Yours. As some of you know, I dreamt about him recently so have a vested interest(!);o)

  62. At 01:17 PM on 20 Feb 2007, Annasee wrote:

    jonnie - yes, SO freely admits that his reluctance to read for pleasure is the result of his parents having the tv on ALL the time at home when he was little. Not that they necessarily watched it, more "for company" (they were immigrants to a strange land, his mother wasn't a native English speaker, & they were far from friends & family). He is actually better at reading for pleasure now, but still doesn't have the absolute compulsion to read that daughter & I have. We can't enjoy a meal without a book (unless friends are round!), but for him reading is only another pastime. I'm a fast reader, probably because we didn't get a tv til I was 12.

    I think I don't like a lot of tv because either it's too slow (with books you can whizz ahead) or too fragmented & bitty, or I get distracted criticising the acting or the visual presentation of things like the news. I much prefer the radio generally.

  63. At 01:33 PM on 20 Feb 2007, Belinda wrote:

    Ed (59): I am a few years younger than you (not that many though!) and growing up in middle-of-nowhere Sweden, we also lived a similar lifestyle to how you described - albeit snowier!
    It is a lifestyle which I am yearning to get back to now, as I get older, but it is proving mostly impossible as, like you said, the entire world has changed in priorities and principles.

    It is probably for this reason that I am coming across like an old fart regarding Children's TV. I can't see the point of it and in my view, it does not lead to anything positive apart from a permanent babysitter for exhausted, over-worked and under-funded parents. No education that you can find on the TV can be beaten by going out into the world and experiencing it for yourself..of course, today, in this world, TV is probably the safer option.

    Big Sister - thank you for the links and I do understand what these channels are aiming to do, but I can't help but think that there are better ways to help the development of children, not to mention their parents!

  64. At 01:34 PM on 20 Feb 2007, Roberto Carlos Alvarez-Galloso,CPUR wrote:

    I agree that moderation is the key.

  65. At 02:08 PM on 20 Feb 2007, Perky wrote:

    Wow - so much to catch up on after a week away! I found the TV debate interesting - mainly because my two children take such different approaches to it. They are allowed half an hour a day on school days - always after school, not before. We have a very old playstation which is used occasionally for dancemat games and they have a couple of PC games each. They are 7 and 10.

    My daughter, the eldest, would far rather read than watch TV. That's just the way she's made. She loves documentary programmes - and the "Mythbusters" type of shows, which she might watch once or twice a month, if she's run out of things to read.

    My son is a TV freak and would happily sit in front of it all day. He's not allowed to and we have firm discussions once the half-hour has elapsed; if he moans too much he doesn't get any TV for the rest of the week. He watches the rugby at the weekend with his Dad and we all occasionally enjoy watching movies together.

    There will never be a TV in either of my children's rooms until they leave home and are old enough to decide for themselves. All that's needed is some backbone from parents - when I'm hassled and need some time to do chores or have some time to myself, they're sent off to read or to play - they can both keep themselves amused for hours.

    I really don't want to sound like a smug parent, but there's a balance between giving your children some chill-out time (which is what most of the adults here will use the TV for), where they can find out new things and be really entertained - and having their faces stuck to a screen. Whilst we were away, we watched a fantastic CBBC programme called "Suspect" where child detectives had to solve a mystery. My children were observant, questioning and analytical and then proceeded to act out their own mysteries once the programme had finished. It's my responsibility to keep their TV watching under control now so that they appreciate it as a medium later on.

  66. At 02:19 PM on 20 Feb 2007, witchiwoman wrote:

    Big Sis -
    you dreamt about DC?? I'm not sure how to respond!! Maybe if I didn't watch so much tv I could come up with something witty....

  67. At 02:56 PM on 20 Feb 2007, Belinda wrote:

    Ed (59): I am a few years younger than you (not that many though!) and growing up in middle-of-nowhere Sweden, we also lived a similar lifestyle to how you described - albeit snowier!
    It is a lifestyle which I am yearning to get back to now, as I get older, but it is proving mostly impossible as, like you said, the entire world has changed in priorities and principles.

    It is probably for this reason that I am coming across like an old fart regarding Children's TV. I can't see the point of it and in my view, it does not lead to anything positive apart from acting as a permanent babysitter for exhausted, over-worked and under-funded parents. No education that you can find on the TV can be beaten by going out into the world and experiencing it for yourself..of course, today, in this world, TV is probably the safer option.

    Big Sister - thank you for the links and I do understand what these channels are aiming to do, but I can't help but think that there are better ways to help the development of children, not to mention their parents!

  68. At 03:02 PM on 20 Feb 2007, Big Sister wrote:

    Roberto:

    I'm glad you agree. I wonder what the moderators think? ;o)

  69. At 03:21 PM on 20 Feb 2007, jonnie wrote:

    I love the 'makes' that they do on Cbeebies, this is a Rocket that Poi made recently !

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VFzoiRM06-Q

  70. At 03:34 PM on 20 Feb 2007, jonnie wrote:

    I love the 'makes' that they do on Cbeebies, this is a Rocket that Poi made recently !

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VFzoiRM06-Q

  71. At 03:43 PM on 20 Feb 2007, jonnie wrote:

    I love the 'makes' that they do on Cbeebies, this is a Rocket that Poi made recently !

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VFzoiRM06-Q

  72. At 04:16 PM on 20 Feb 2007, jonnie wrote:

    I love the 'makes' that they do on Cbeebies, this is a Rocket that Poi made recently !

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VFzoiRM06-Q

  73. At 04:56 PM on 20 Feb 2007, Fiona wrote:

    Jonnie - you're just a big kid (sorry child!) at heart yourself aren't you :)

  74. At 05:13 PM on 20 Feb 2007, Nick Webster wrote:

    Fair comment Fifi and no offence intended to The SSC or Yogabird. Sorry! TSSC - yes, and what indeed is real? Actually I feel that that feeds into the TV debate - I understand your point about multiple realities but am not sure that my great-grandmother would have...

    :-)

  75. At 05:33 PM on 20 Feb 2007, Ed Iglehart wrote:

    Belinda (66)

    Ain't nostalgia great! There was plenty of snow in Canada, but I have to admit that we sometimes drove all the way to Florida for a month or so in the winters when the fields were frozen solid. I can see that the barn is still standing, but someone has built a new house at the top of the orchard. The old farmhouse is hidden by its surrounding trees.

    Amazing that I can look down on the old place from a satellite, and we used to run to see whenever an airplane appeared in the sky!

    xx
    ed

  76. At 08:12 PM on 20 Feb 2007, Aperitif wrote:

    Jonnie (69-72), You love them that much? ;-)

  77. At 09:51 PM on 20 Feb 2007, jonnie wrote:

    Oh Appy -- The blog wasn't very well when I was posting them :-( just a series of Room 502's -- Now look what's happened !

  78. At 10:39 PM on 20 Feb 2007, Aperitif wrote:

    Hi Jonnie,

    It's so random here lately innit?

    How's Rupert?

  79. At 09:12 AM on 21 Feb 2007, Big Sister wrote:

    Witchiwoman: Yes, I really did. I'm still recovering from the shock myself. Actually, he came over rather well .... But I shall divulge nothing further. It's all a bit embarrassing.

  80. At 12:11 PM on 21 Feb 2007, inez wrote:

    Hi Fiona and all,

    I was not suggesting banning all television. I actually like some of what is on offer. However I am deeply concerned about the nature of the medium and it's central place in our 'culture'.

    My basic point is this: We have been embracing, with increasing speed, every new invention to make our lives easier and easier. Convenience is our ultimate goal. However each of these inventions that are supposedly so convenient comes with a price, because we continually fail to curb our appetites and suffer from overuse. Nothing wrong in principle with tv's, or cars, computers, mobiles, etc, everything in moderation, but the proof is all around us that the human race does nothing in moderation.

    Perhaps it is time to move away from so-called personal freedom to choose and towards a concept of actions taken for the greater good.

  81. At 12:18 PM on 21 Feb 2007, Clare Lipetz wrote:

    The issue is not just about TV but what are our children doing the rest of the time? If TV is their only stimulation that would be awful. My kids watch TV and also read, swim, walk the dogs etc in their leisure time. Just because they like rubbish like Pimp My Ride doesn't stop them achieving in and out of school or turn them into hooligans.

  82. At 12:39 PM on 21 Feb 2007, Ed Iglehart wrote:

    Sorry folks,

    My #75 gave a link to the destruction of rainforest rather than to the growing woodlands at North Glen

    Must do better next time!
    xx
    ed

  83. At 02:24 PM on 21 Feb 2007, Ed Iglehart wrote:

    Inez,

    Good points. We seem to want a world where we can do every job once and never need to consider maintenance. The same attitude leaks into interpersonal relationships, we want everything to be without consequences. I seem to recall someone referring to a zipless somethingorother....

    As to TV, an old favourite of mine. It's been stapled to the office wall for years.
    xx
    ed

  84. At 03:23 PM on 21 Feb 2007, inez wrote:

    Hi Ed,

    Thanks for that.

    One of my favourite cartoons is one depicting a man looking at his television in shock while he cries: 'It's a box! We've been watching a box!'

    or a whole family, including the cat, transfixed and goggle-eyed, glued to the telly. One of them says: 'Why don't they just DO something?'

    Sorry they are better when you see them but can't find them on the net. They are from a while ago.

    Anyway, makes me sound like I don't appreciate good telly, I do. In fact I appreciate bad telly sometimes too. I just consider myself a very weak individual so I don't have either a telly or a car, because I know I would give in to temptation. Or end up arguing with my little boy. Life is more peaceful like this.

  85. At 04:03 PM on 21 Feb 2007, witchiwoman wrote:

    Big Sister -

    So long as he doesn't pop up on the Beach - Charles Dance has caused more than enough excitement (though I wish Sean Bean had stuck around longer...)

    Inez - v interesting points. The more I think about it the more I think life without tv may be worth a shot. I remember a brief period staying in a hostel in the Australian rainforest - no tv, no radio...it was quite magical and such a different way of being.

  86. At 04:54 PM on 21 Feb 2007, stewart M wrote:

    My Kids are into "The sound of music at the moment"

    Yes I mean the film .They love the songs. 3 year old is leaning the actions for "So long, Farewell". And they have both tasted their first Champagne!

    This is surely educational. It teaching acting/copying skills? and Music.

  87. At 04:55 PM on 21 Feb 2007, Fiona wrote:

    Hi Inez - good points and I do tend to agree really despite my pro-telly stance. A big part of me would love to remind the world 50 years and live a simpler, slower, purer life than I do now - everything is too convenient and throw away these days.

    Excellent cartoon Ed :)

  88. At 08:37 PM on 21 Feb 2007, skirm wrote:

    Hi, Kids.

    I've been watching my lot since AS's report and wondering:

    Is it fair to draw an analogy between TV and diet? My daughter would be quite happy at the minute to watch Disney Channel on NTL (VirginMedia) 24hrs a day. I know she would eventually overdose on this diet of repeats and go off and do something less boring instead but I find it useful to engage her on this so that we can negotiate some agreements that might translate into other aspects of our lives. So we've agreed the following:

    There is a "number of programmes" limit instead of a time limit. Longer programmes tend to be more nutritious and less confection in my humble opinion. Rather than turn the telly on and watch whatever is on at the time she should go to the TV schedule guide and see if this episode is one she has seen before. If it is then the won't waste her quota on this but will set a reminder on the system and do something else (messy).

    I find this a great way to make both of us aware of the amount of screen time. It also translates well so as soon as she wants on the PC to play, mainly BBC, Disney or Bratz we take the opportunity to agree a coming off time. There's always a 10 minute whinge but this gives me an opportunity to be magnanimous... and squeeze some future chore out of her.

    Of course we don't always remember to do this so it's just like real life but it means we have something to talk about at the dinner table.

    Her brother isn't quite so engaging. If I try to curtail his watching (Simpsons, Scrubs, Futurama, South Park) he goes off in a huff and reads a book just to wind me up.

  89. At 09:44 PM on 22 Feb 2007, nikki noodle wrote:

    hi eddie, "love the show" and wow!

    One point I'd like to add (and i dont have a telly) is that humans have an inate capacity to remember and then recall images - we dream 'rehashes' of our day interspersed with imagined scenarios.

    What TV does, is to cut between real life images (news, documentaries and so on) and fictitional ones without any difference between the two.

    So that it is entirely possible to glimpse a view a skyscraper falling down, and to NOT know whether one feels facinated (wow) or shocked, until the sound reveals it to be a film or newsfootage.

    [BTW, I am possibly one of the few Radio 4 listeners who have not seen footage of the twin towers disaster.]

    what this does to a brain i dont know.

    But from what i hear on the radio, the distiction between fact and fiction on TV is already blurred, with 'reality' shows, TV trials,

    I believe (without any scientific basis) that this must have an effect on one's capacity to be 'uncinical' or in that old fashioned word, naive.

    I think a bit more innocence might not be a bad thing all round.

  90. At 10:32 PM on 22 Feb 2007, Aperitif wrote:

    Hi Nikki (89),

    I see where you're coming from, but I have to say that I don't believe that 'not being cynical' equates with being 'naive'. Even if these are opposites (and I'm not sure they are as I've known people I could describe as both), surely they are on a continuum and the best place to be is somewhere in between? My own solution us to be what I feel is best described s 'sceptical' -- I always wonder about a source of information and consider all of the reasons I can conceive for the spin that may have been put on it. But I don't automatcily believe the best case -- as that would be naive -- or the worst -- that would be cyincal. Surely this is a sensible approach? Otherwise we would all be extremists! I think you're advocating moderation in the rest of your post, so I was a bit struck by your call for naivety. Is that what you meant?

  91. At 01:28 PM on 23 Feb 2007, inez wrote:

    Hi there,

    Just received this link from a friend.

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/programmes/from_our_own_correspondent/6368057.stm

    The effects of modern technology in action. They are losing, before our very own eyes, something that was lost long ago in our own.

  92. At 01:43 PM on 23 Feb 2007, nikki noodle wrote:

    Aperitif (90)

    moderation is good, if i had the confidence in my ability to use the 'off' button.

    But personally, i'd just want to know what happens next...

    As for naive, i guess you're right, its not the opposite of cynical. I think i feel like i know what i mean, but cant quite put my finger on it. It s connected to an open enquiry to the world and people, as oppossed to a disinterested 'closed' heart and mind, set in ones ways, and mistrusting the motives of everyone.

    x

  93. At 02:38 PM on 23 Feb 2007, Aperitif wrote:

    Nikki (92), Right, got you -- and I think I agree: Too many people wear cynicism with pride and deride naivety; I don't think there is any pride to be had in cynicism. An enquiring mind is surely open to all possibilities: always choosing to believe the worst is lazy, as well as a short step from unhappiness.

    As for using the off button -- yeah, you're right; it's harder than it should be!

    A, x.

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