Monday, February 18, 2008


There is an article in today's Washington Post about the corrosive effects of television on our nation. Here's a link to it: The Dumbing of America

For those of you who aren't inclined to read a column about how television viewing erodes the quality of our national discourse, perhaps you'd be interested in reading a book about how television erodes the quality of your personal life.

There's an engaging book on this subject called Get a Life by David Burke and Jean Lotus. It's a hard book to find on this side of the Atlantic because it's published in Great Britain by a small publisher. Its cover looks like this:

It's full of attitude and opinion. The authors are feisty and provocative. They strike me that way even though I'm on their side. They write things like,

"Television doesn't give you experiences. it takes them away."

Here's more:

Myth #6 Television gives parents peace.

Many parent say, "Sometimes I just need some time to myself and I put the kid in front of the TV for a bit." They think television is helping them deal with the demands of parenting.

But just the opposite is true. TV is designed to wind kids up. Frantic cartoons, screaming presenters and loud multicolored commercials go streaming into your child's eyes and ears. They they come out again with a bang, at mealtime or bedtime.

TV spoon-feeds children a steady dose of rapid-fire, happy noises so they never learn to create their own good times. They become more needy and more demanding of:

• hyperactive stimulation

• ...products you can't afford in ads that are designed to make your child pester you

• TV ideals that have nothing to do with the upbringing you wanted to give them

• reassurance and comforting after watching violent programmes.

I'm already convinced of their point of view. I haven't had TV in my house since 1969 when I moved away from home to go to college.

When our kids were little, they sometimes spend time in other people's homes where TV was on. We could tell: on the next trip to the grocery store our kids would throw tantrums for Captain Crunch (or whatever) cereal they'd seen on TV.

"Have you ever tasted it?" we'd ask. "No but we want it! We need it!"

We learned to avoid the cereal aisle.

Here, click on the photo below of two pages of the book to get a sense for what's inside this book.

Thanks to the internet, I'll bet you can find a copy of the book online.

If it gets you to cut the cable/satellite TV out of your life, you'll be glad you tracked it down.


Culmom37 said...

I am totally guilty! Although I don't seem to watch TV during the day, I love to watch at night!

Dan Gurney, Mr. Kindergarten said...

Who isn't?

With computers these days it's difficult to keep screen time at zero. (I guess I could give up computers!)

Thanks to my computer, I see some YouTube video and on occasion some Yahoo! news clips. My computer plays DVDs. We've got one of those cheap Netflix accounts.

At least we don't have channels piped in on cable or dished up via satellite.