Couch potatoes come in all ages. But the youngest ones are often those most pummeled by television advertising. They are also the most susceptible to the lures of snappy advertising and least able to distinguish commercials from real programs.
Children in this country simply watch too much television -- 25 hours a week on average -- and since 1984, when the FCC rescinded guidelines limiting commercials during children's shows, kids have been subjected to more than their share of commercials -- including whole shows designed around specific toys, making them, in effect, program-length commercials.
After a 22-year effort by Action for Children's Television, Congress has passed a Children's Television Act which would restore reasonable limits on advertising time during children's programs and require the Federal Communications Commission to consider a broadcaster's record in providing educational and informational programming for children when the station's license comes up for renewal. Actually, this is the second such act Congress has passed. Ronald Reagan vetoed a similar bill in 1988, and since then children's television has continued its abysmal descent into mediocrity and worse. Surely President Bush -- the education president -- will take a more sensible stand.