Stuart Jeffries examines the evidence in The Guardian:
Should parents worry about what television is doing to their children? Is it making them fatter, stupider, more violent? After all, TV has changed since today’s parents were children. It’s bigger, brasher and on all the time. There used to be something called the “toddlers’ truce” when TV went off air between six and seven o’clock so parents could put their children to bed; now kids’ cable networks broadcast 24 hours a day. In the old days, too, there was a kids’ slot called Watch with Mother; today there are fears that television is watched too much without mother, that the goggle box is being used disastrously as a virtual babysitter.
TV has moved on from the innocent world of Camberwick Green to become a fearful source of seemingly imponderable questions. Should parents be limiting the time children spend in front of the television? Does it matter what they watch? Parents’ fears are fuelled by surveys purporting to demonstrate that TV viewing is harmful. Last week, a report in the Lancet warned parents of a link between children’s excessive viewing habits and long-term health problems such as poor fitness and raised cholesterol. It also claimed that youthful TV addicts were more likely to smoke. More >>