Television and video games are bad for kids. Many parents, whether they permit child screen time or not, accept this as gospel.
Author Steven Johnson offers a different perspective.
“Parents can sometimes be appalled at the hypnotic effect that television has on toddlers…,” writes Johnson in Everything Bad is Good For You: How Today’s Popular Culture is Actually Making Us Smarter. “The same feeling arrives a few years later, when they see their grade-schoolers navigating through a video game world, oblivious to the reality that surrounds them.”
Johnson goes on to explain that the child’s silent, zombie-like gaze at the television screen is not a sign of mental atrophy; it’s a sign of focus.
As Johnson notes, a toddler’s brain is constantly looking for new stimuli. In a house with few changes from day to day, the television is the most surprising thing the child will encounter.
The television—the new stimuli—requires close scrutiny, hence the child’s laser focus on the screen.
Could your child’s “zombie” appearance be a sign that they are focused, engaged, and perhaps getting a few more wrinkles on their brain?
Naturally this argument has its detractors.
There is some research that indicates that while exposing infants and toddlers to television does not harm them, it also does not improve their language and visual motor skills at age three.
Other opponents point to rampant violence, disturbing images, and sexual content, as cause to avoid television and video games.
The debate is probably as old as the television itself.
To my readers: What is your philosophy on kids and television? Do you know any TV or video game zombies? Do you adhere to the American Academy of Pediatrics recommendation (No TV for kids under 2; and 2 hours per day for older kids)?
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