Wednesday, February 20, 2013

TV: From Problem to Solution

Last night I watched a program on Adam Lanza, the young man who did the Sandy Hook killings. Adam had numerous mental health problems. His mother had guns. Hi mother taught him to shoot guns. He was disenfranchised, moved from school to school, classroom to classroom. He played violent video games. He had few friends. His parents were divorced and he had cut off ties to his father or older brother. In short, he exhibited every warning sign that we're told to look for as parents and educators.

Adam's problems were deep and complicated. The solutions are too, but we have to start somewhere.

Yesterday this article from the LA Times was in our local paper.  Here are a couple of quotes from the article.

"A study conducted by the University of Otago in New Zealand concluded that every extra hour of television watched by children on a weeknight increased by 30 percent the risk of having a criminal conviction by age 26."

"'Young adults who had spent more time watching television during childhood and adolescence were significantly more likely to have a criminal conviction, a diagnosis of antisocial personality disorder and more aggressive personality traits compared with those who who viewed less television.'"

The solutions to this problem were simple:

1.  Limit children's television time to two hours or less. (Even this seems excessive to me.)
2.  Limit the programs they watch to educational or non-violent shows.
3.  Make television watching part of the solution (programs that promote positive behavior) rather than the problem.

Maybe these are small early steps that parents can take toward the prevention of violence in at-risk children. It made sense to me.

If you have a child in the home, how do you handle the television?


Chelsea Lewis said...

But isn't that like saying that frozen dinners lead to singleness because the more frozen dinners people report eating in a week the more likely it is that they're single? I think it's less likely that TV leads to troubled kids than that absent and uninvolved parents lead to troubled kids and also to a lot of unsupervised TV time on school nights. And kids who don't play well with others may tend to watch more TV in lieu of having friends; that doesn't mean TV took away their social skills.

That said, I do believe Sesame Street and Mister Rogers' Neighborhood brainwashed me into being a generally tolerant, open-minded, and nonaggressive person with a tendency to count to ten in Spanish and make up my own words to popular songs, so maybe if I'd been watching CSI as a kid, I would have grown up a criminal.

(Or a crime scene investigator.)

(Or just made a lot more crime-related puns.)

mamie said...

Well, yes, I see your point and it's a good one.

As I wrote those suggestions, I thought about that, the fact that most parents who care about their children's television habits already do those things and those whose children are, as you say, unsupervised won't make the change.

So then I move to thoughts about what we can do about the children who are unsupervised after school, whose parents are too stressed/preoccupied with their own problems/just plain don't care? Do you start with the parents? The children? Do it through churches? Schools? And then my head starts to spin.

Maybe one parent saw my post and gave it some thought and will be more aware of their children's television time and what they're watching. And maybe small steps will be just as effective (and more likely) than sweeping changes.

I appreciate your making this a two-sided conversation.