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"Discipline, No Television, No Kidding"
April 21, 2004
by Tony Zizza

A new study suggests "television viewing by children at age 1 and at age 3 increases their risk of having an attention disorder by the time they are 7."

Well, duh. Ya think?

Researchers at the University of Washington "looked at the records" of more than 2,500 children who participated in a long-term health study. What did they find? Children who watch television at a very young age "risk having an attention problem by 9 percent for every hour of television watched a day."

Scary numbers. However, we can just throw them in the garbage because the researchers at the University of Washington "relied upon the reports of parents and their child's viewing habits." Furthermore, "the study used a measure of attention problems that indicates, but does not confirm, ADHD."

So there you have it. Another round of let's blame the chosen television viewing habits of children, not on the parents or the children themselves, but on an alleged disorder called ADHD.

We don't need studies to tell us that if you basically use the television as a babysitter for children or as glue to keep the family together, attention issues are the least of your problems. Your child is going to grow up to be a few sandwiches sort of a picnic. And quite frankly, lack the one thing children need more than anything else.

What's the one thing? Discipline. Remember this? My motto to parents is: discipline, no television, no kidding.

Believe me, some children have become so attached to the television, and parents have become such pals with their children, the television becomes a part of who the child is. Children and teens use the television as a safety blanket to cover them up from the rigors of abstract thinking.

This is extremely sad. I think some children who are perhaps 13 and older have chosen ignorance so completely with their own parents doing nothing to stop dangerous trends, the child dependent on television needs to see their parents actually throw the television out the window. No kidding. Broken glass? Who cares. A mess to clean up? Okay. Young minds are on the line, afraid to exit their comfort zone through reading, discussion and abstract thinking.

If you think I am the one who is a few sandwiches sort of a picnic, consider the premise that parenting styles can either make or break a child's view on discipline. Follow this real life scenario played out in homes accross America every day.

A child in the 8th grade has once again brought home horrible grades despite being in no activities and having parents "willing" to help. As a form of discipline, the television is taken out of the child's room. However, this form of discipline means different things to each parent and the child at hand.

To one parent, the television coming out of the bedroom means no television whatsoever for a specific amount of time until the child reaches specific goals.

To the other parent (and child), the television coming out of the bedroom means television can be watched - in the living room. The child can even watch shows like Average Joe and the Bachelor because the child watched these shows with one of the parents before bringing home horrible grades.

Parents must understand that children have the capacity to choose ignorance. Ignorance is largely a choice. It's often a result of choosing not to think and living a discipline-free life. You know, children used to exercise and study. Then, watch "some" television. Today, children have a better relationship with their "own" television than with their parents and peers.

Discipline, no television, no kidding. This motto has a real chance to save families. Will it? Or do more televisions need to be unplugged and share space with the great outdoors?

Zizza serves as Vice President/Georgia of Parents For Label and Drug Free Education. He writes frequently about parenting issues. Email comments to him at: tz777@yahoo.com

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