WSJ: It’s Really Here: TV for 6 Month-Olds

The WSJ article “It’s Really Here: TV for 6 Month-Olds” by Joe Flint (published in the Business & Tech. section of the March 30, 2015 issue) describes television programming for infants. The article describes the programming, technology, the business prospects and viewpoints.

It saddens me. For someone to provide a cheap, low-quality substitute for personal parental attention wreaks of negligence. And to the idea that “Education Stifles Creativity,” this exacerbates the problem. It is another form of knowledge pollution brought about by technology that sets back a person’s personal story.

“BabyFirstTV…is aiming its programming at children as young as six months.” “It launched in 2006…and now reaches more than 50 million U.S. households.” Got that, parents? Better get your shields up because we all know that much of television programming is a weapon of mass (mind) destruction. Short attention spans, addictive behavior, myopia, obesity, and an overall lack of interpersonal skills.

“What is important is what we put our kids in front of and we think we are offering the cleanest, safest alternative.” After the spin slows down a bit, look through your list again just a little harder. The cleanest, safest alternative is parent attention. And “In 2014, advertisers spent $1.2 billion on kids channels.” Hmmm, who exactly is the winner here? And is there any trace of intrinsic motivation?

“I know there is a lot of criticism about babies and and young kids watching TV, but I think in moderation and with parent supervision it can be a great benefit.” You might compare the benefits list to the detriments list. And which effects are more long-lasting and influence future behavior? I would mostly recommend physical interactive activity but in those depleted energy settings when we want to rest and relax, can we not make a better choice and fill the time with mindfulness activity (which involves closing the eyes) and perhaps even enhance it with music?

All in all, I view such developments as presenting greater challenge to the YCISL mission. Let’s hope enough parents recognize it as negative innovation – that is, one that promises undesirable influence and impact.

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