The headline read, "Too much TV psychologically harms children: study." Or, for those of you unfamiliar with the parlance of the fourth estate, "There's a study out that says that TV is bad for kids." The fact that I read this story while staring at a slightly rectangular screen, I took it with a grain of salt, but less than I would had I seen if first on CNN.
The folks at the University of Bristol want us to know that kids who "spend hours each day in front of the TV or games console have more psychological difficulties like problems relating to peers, emotional issues, hyperactivity or conduct challenges, than those who don't." I could suggest that they talk to the pasty-faced kids eating paste whose parents don't allow a television in the house and see how well they interact with their peers, but that might seem a tad hostile. But what would you expect to a child of the TV generation? Most of the history I have witnessed has taken place on TV. Some of my happiest moments have come bathed in its warm glow. I remember who shot J.R. I remember seeing the Fonz jump the shark before it became a national trend. Captain Kangaroo started my day, and Johnny Carson ended it. Like most parents of that age, mine were alternately concerned and apathetic about the hours my brothers and I spent in front of the tube. My grandparents were probably worried about how my mom and dad spent all those hours with their ears pressed to the radio, and their parents fretted about the effect that vaudeville was having on them.
I tell my son to turn off the TV or close up the laptop. I try and count the minutes he spends in front of screens of any sort, and it makes me crazy. Especially when I try and justify the way my couch faces the big slab of pixels. It's video feng shui. Still, it is hard to argue with the wisdom of Aristotle, who insisted on moderation of all things, but then again, his buddy Plato had us all staring at shadows on the wall of a cave a couple thousand years ago. I wonder if his kids were hyper too.