Kids' TV Viewing Needs Monitoring by Parents
Rosenberg, Mark, Daily Herald (Arlington Heights, IL)
A recent Supreme Court decision regarding sexually explicit programming on cable television reaffirms the need for parents to supervise their children's television viewing.
The decision struck down a law that required cable systems to limit such programming of late night hours when children were not likely to watch. The judges ruled that another section of the law that provided for lock boxes to block programming would be sufficient control for parents.
The government had argued that parents needed the protection of the law to help them block adult entertainment, while the court decided such restrictions violated First Amendment freedom.
This case highlights the important role that parents play in guiding their children, especially when explicit programming is available.
I often ask children how they spend their time after school and, with little surprise, hear of two to three hours or more in front of the television. Too often, the program choices are unsupervised or videos and games have unacceptable content.
Media influence can by very strong, especially on young children who are unable to distinguish imagined and real life portrayals. Frequently, the message is portrayed in a real life setting that is accepted at face value by children.
A number of studies show that television exposure influences aggressive behavior as well as use of tobacco, alcohol and other drugs.
When a parent discusses a child's aggressive behavior with me at an office visit, one of the first questions I ask is about time spent watching television and playing video games. Usually, the answer is that the child watches programs such as "Power Rangers" or friends are watching and the playground has become a place to imitate what they have seen.
Parents can influence children and their viewing habits. One important way is to teach children to be intelligent consumers of the media. …