“Dora the Explorer” tried. She really, really tried.
She and her monkey friend Boots marched through a forest, crossed a troll bridge (not a toll bridge. There’s a difference), forded a caiman-infested river and climbed a sentient mountain, all the while telling those 2- to 5-year-olds watching from home to get up and march with them.
A lot of kids’ television programs attempt to engage the audience to count, learn colors/shapes/music, or to exercise. I watched our toddler, in true Offutt form, stare at the TV as she sat on the couch eating pretzels.
Although I turned off the television and took the Toddler outside to play, I couldn’t blame her. When I was single, I would get up for work in the morning and watch a woman exercise on a cable TV channel while I ate ham and scrambled eggs.
In my defense, she was lots of pretty. The eggs were good, too, unlike TV, especially for children.
According to Scientific American, watching too much television changes the structure of a child’s brain. It worms its way into their skulls and whisks the gray matter to mush, kind of like I did with those eggs. These changes cause antisocial behavior, mental health issues, obesity and low verbal skills.
I guess that’s why I write instead of work in radio.
Linda Pagani, Ph.D., a psycho-education professor at the Universite de Montreal and researcher at the Sainte-Justine University Hospital Research Center in Montreal, said we suck as parents.
Well, not my wife and I personally, but most of us in general.
Her research showed too much television (more than one or two hours a day) for children younger than 2 can have them totally messed up by the time they reach fourth grade.
“Basically we saw kids who watch excessive TV at 29 months were more likely to be less productive in class as rated by their teachers,” Pagani said in a WebMD interview. “They were performing less well in mathematics. We also saw negative effects in anything that required effortful exercise.”
Yep, that sounds like an American, all right. If all this is accurate, why do we use the television as a babysitter?
According to a CDC survey, only 20.6 percent of Americans get the recommended amounts of exercise. A UPI story says, although that number is accurate, it doesn’t reflect how American’s feel about things. And how we feel is more important than what we do, right?
More than 75 percent of American adults want to get in shape, however only 31 percent of these people put in the effort. Forty-five percent get most of their exercise by hitting the “Menu” button on their TV remote.
Although children’s television programs like “Dora the Explorer” encourage children to learn about ecology, friendship, colors, math, animal species and exercise, the fact that the device these messages come through trains our brains to do the opposite just, it just, uh, what’s the word?
Oh, lord, I was thinking again. My head hurts now. Good thing I have Netflix. Maybe the Toddler will want to come inside and join me.
– Jason’s newest novel, “Bad Day for the Apocalypse,” is available at jasonoffutt.com.