Another Medical Study Proves Television is Bad for Children. Yawnsies.
With the Television Critics Association summer press tour winding down today, networks and critics alike could almost see the light at the end of the swag-filled tunnel. Then, out of nowhere, comes news that could shake the medium to its core: Television viewing causes high blood pressure in children. I mean, sure, Yo Gabba Gabba can be very exciting, but when it contributes to the epidemic of childhood obesity, we have a problem. Will there be boycotts or protests or cautionary forwarded emails between suburban mothers? Maybe right after that Dora the Explorer DVD is over.
The strange (or predicable) thing about the annual tradition of medical professionals telling parents that sedentary activity in front of a screen causes significant health and behavior problems is that it never seems to fall on open ears. There will be no television industry symposia dedicated to getting kids off the couch or classes at the local library about how to give your child more exciting options than Finding Nemo (a tall order, let's be honest).
As health care starts to become a central issue of our day, hopefully childhood obesity will replace childhood violence as a primary parental worry. A quick glance through the recommendations of the American Academy of Pediatrics indicates that violence is still the preferred alarmism, but it's time for the AAP and the government to step forward and find a new way to recommend that kids watch less TV. Though studies will appear from time to time that note how television and computer exposure improves creativity or reading scores, it also seems to be contributing to the largest public health concern since lung cancer came on the scene.
It's difficult to keep children entertained, no doubt, but someone needs to take the lead.
It's not TV. It's HBP.