Children's TV

July 19, 1999

When I speak to parents about children and TV, I focus on two issues: the quantity of media input and the quality of media input. Both issues were in the news last week, and the news is not good.

A recent study found that nearly half of all children ages 2 to 17 have a television set in their bedroom, and they now spend more than three hours a day in front of the tube. By the way, these are all-time highs in both categories.

The study done by the Annenberg Public Policy Center at the University of Pennsylvania also found that 28 percent of children's programs contained four or more acts of violence, that 45 percent contained "problematic" language, and that only a third of shows classified as "educational" under the guidelines set by the Federal Communication Commission were in fact "highly educational."

So when you look at the quantity and the quality of television our kids are watching you have to be concerned. Not that every minute has to be enriching. One commentator spoke out for kids to have some fun between listening to "Hooked on Phonics" tapes. But the sheer amount of time kids spend in front of a TV screen is cause for some concern.

In fact, it isn't just the time spent in front of a TV screen. Another study found that young people spend about 4-1/2 hours in front of a screen of some kind. When kids sat in front of a screen, it used to just be a TV screen. Now they spend time in front of a TV screen, a computer screen, a video screen, etc.

This latest study reminds us again that we need to evaluate the quantity and quality of our kids' media input. They spend too much time in front of a screen watching programs of questionable value.

I'm Kerby Anderson of Probe Ministries, and that's my opinion.