No kidding, TV corrupts young minds

November 25, 1999

This is an edited excerpt of a Los Angeles Times editorial, which was published Friday.

THERE was a time when home, school and church were the primary influences on America's youth. Now, conclusively, the media must be recognized as equally important in the mix -- and the implications are frightening.

For not only are children spending huge amounts of time in front of a television or personal computer screen, they are doing it alone.

The increasing privatization of media use by children was one of the surprising and disturbing conclusions of the recently released Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation study, a bracing nationwide review of the media habits of children ages 2 through 18.

Some 53 percent of the children surveyed have a television set in their bedrooms, and be assured, parents aren't tuning into MTV with them. In fact, media diaries kept by some in the survey found that older children watched TV without their parents 95 percent of the time. Even for children 2 to 7 years old, 81 percent of TV time was spent alone.

So not only are children passively receiving a bombardment of questionable visual images, bathroom humor and slick consumer marketing, but they also are processing this information by themselves.

The message to parents is clear: Turn it off or watch it with them. Raise your children or TV will do it for you.

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