I am glad I put off writing this article. Just this morning and quite by accident, I talked to a friend who is concerned about a five-year-old child she knows of who suffers from screen addiction.

All and any TV, 24/7.

Seemingly, no one who lives at the same address as the child knows where the OFF button is, or even where the plug is. Might be stuff to know.

I delayed writing because one doesn’t wish to sound like some old lady wittering about what “young folks” are doing these days.

But, no. Their differences from me are not the point here. Living on TV is like living on ice cream sundaes! One can’t raise a child on ice cream sundaes!

This New York Times article captures the problem:

In its 2013 policy statement on “Children, Adolescents, and the Media,” the American Academy of Pediatrics cited these shocking statistics from a Kaiser Family Foundation study in 2010: “The average 8- to 10-year-old spends nearly eight hours a day with a variety of different media, and older children and teenagers spend more than 11 hours per day.” Television, long a popular “babysitter,” remains the dominant medium, but computers, tablets and cellphones are gradually taking over.

“Many parents seem to have few rules about use of media by their children and adolescents,” the academy stated, and two-thirds of those questioned in the Kaiser study said their parents had no rules about how much time the youngsters spent with media.

Parents, grateful for ways to calm disruptive children and keep them from interrupting their own screen activities, seem to be unaware of the potential harm from so much time spent in the virtual world. 

When I was a small kid (1950s), I was allowed to stay up after 7:00 pm to listen to a famous pianist on the radio. Period. That was it. One needed a legitimate reason to seek entertainment.

Should we maybe return to that model, for children’s health?


Denyse O’Leary is a Canadian journalist, author, and blogger.

Denyse O’Leary is an author, journalist, and blogger who has mainly written popular science and social science. Fellow Canadian Marshall McLuhan’s description of electronic media as a global village...