We all know that too much T.V. isn’t good for the brain, right? Well, at least most people with common sense suspect so, anyway. But now we have proof: Current research shows that young children who watch more than two hours of the brainfryer a day are more likely to have attention problems as adolescents.

Duh. You mean that constantly changing visual images rapidly flashing on a screen – sometimes faster than the human mind can comprehend (anyone hear of subliminal messages) – might have long term effects. You don’t say?

Think about it for a second (I’d have you think about it for a minute, but veteran television watchers might change the channel): Television really does consist of rapidly changing images. As a medium, it does not engage your concentration. You just passively watch images and listen to the accompanying audio. No thinking or concentrating necessary. True, you are following a story (reality shows notwithstanding), but it’s still a passive activity.

One might make an argument for educational T.V. (like Discovery Channel, National Geographic, and the History Channel), but you still passively watch and listen, which does nothing for the development of focus or concentration. Add to that today’s popular programming – reality shows, awards shows, music videos – and the term dummy tube starts to take on a whole new accuracy, doesn’t it?

The study, carried out at the Dunedin School of Medicine in New Zealand, showed that children who watched two or more hours per day were at a significant risk for developing attention deficit disorders later in life. And those who watched over three hours per day were at even greater risk. According to Carl Erik Landhuis, one of the lead authors of the study, kids who get used to watching lots of attention-grabbing TV may find ordinary life situations – like the classroom – boring. It’s also possible, he adds, that TV may simply crowd out time spent doing other activities that can build attention and concentration skills, such as reading and playing games.

Yes, that’s exactly it. Activities like reading, solving puzzles, playing sports and other games, learning computers or instruments, all require focus and concentration. They also require thinking and problem solving which leads to the development of dendritic pathways in the brain and nervous system, which leads to overall brain development. I’m sorry but T.V. doesn’t do that – no thinking involved. Furthermore, learning to entertain oneself in the absence of mind-numbing image flashing is the gateway to the imagination. Give your kid a copy of Tom Sawyer, Harry Potter, Encyclopedia Brown, Nancy Drew, or whatever, and let them learn to stimulate their own vivid and priceless imaginations. And get them away from the dummy tube. Trust me, our autonomy and self-sufficiency as a civilization depend on it.

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