Kids. TV. Computers. Phones. What do you think?
Despite the strong headline, this is a really interesting article in the Guardian, with an interesting thread underneath. The unsurprising conclusion is that TV and screen time is bad for kids, and other countries have public health policies that actively pursue a reduction in this activity – but not the UK. Reading through the studies, it seems the dangerous thing is spending too much time sitting down, staring at a screen because it is sedentary. So does that include phones and computers too then?
I’m not a big TV-person, and I won’t let the baby watch much of it, but more for social reasons than medical. Kids TV is nuts these days – like a treble espresso for the eyes – no wonder kids can’t concentrate and get bored in school. There aren’t enough flying magic robots to hold their attention.
When I was a child kids TV was quite sedate – Thomas the Tank, Postman Pat etc. Even the more exciting things like the Turtles were tailored for British kids (I remember catching ADHD after seeing one episode of the American version on Nikelodeon.)
So maybe there’s a case for sedate, educational, relaxing children’s TV, in small doses, it did us no harm afterall. But does such a thing even exist?
Since I was a child, Postman Pat has become a qualified helicopter pilot, and Ted Glenn has moved on from general handy-man to become an expert in robotics, inventing mail-delivering robots – I’m not joking. This is clearly unrealistic, even taking in to account the possibility of a futuristic fully privatised mail service. Its economically inefficient and also massively inconvenient, and in no way suitable for a rural backwater like Greendale, where the infrastructure (helipads, air traffic controllers, robot charging-points etc) would be severely lacking.
Anyway. The thing is, kids love screens. Ada is absorbed by them wherever she sees them. She will stare over my shoulder at the TV in the doctors waiting room, she goes nuts for the wife’s Ipad, and she thinks my digital watch is ace. I’d like to see some kind of study on why they love screens so much- it seems almost innate. And as far as computers go – if looking at a screen is bad, does that mean even education things like Ipad games are out too?
The research reported in the Guardian Story is based on a number of older studies, and doesn’t seem designed to test the conclusions they have reached. I’d be interested to know whether there is any more thorough research in to why screen-time is bad. I would suspect that any child who watches 8 hours of TV a day also has a lot of other unmet needs, because basically it hints at a lack of human interaction, so of course that will be bad. Is 2 hours of TV/ipad etv bad for a kid who spends the rest of their time on a bike, in the garden, reading books etc?
In summary: screens bad, giving postman pat a helicopter even worse.