We worry about so many dangers to our children—drugs, perverts, bullies—but seldom notice the biggest menace of all: the multibillion-dollar marketing effort aimed at turning the kids into oversexed, status-obsessed, attention-deficient little consumers.

- Barbara Ehrenreich

Every activity a child engages in during his busy day refines some set of skills. Reading is practice; writing is practice; sports is practice; engaging in fantasy games is practice; and interacting with people is practice. All these activities in some way help prepare a child for the challenges of adult life. Television is also practice, but not for any activity. Television is practice for inactivity.

- Lawrence Kelemen

If you came and you found a strange man... teaching your kids to punch each other, or trying to sell them all kinds of products, you'd kick him right out of the house, but here you are; you come in and the TV is on, and you don't think twice about it. 

- Jerome Singer

See these tvSmarter webpages for more information:

TV & Young Children


TV Statistics - How Much Do Kids Watch?

TV Versus Playing

TV Versus Reading

How Does TV Effect Schoolwork?


TV & Aggression

TV & Obesity

TV & Depression

Cognitive Effects of TV

"Angeline Lillard and Jennifer Peterson, both of the University of Virginia's department of psychology, wanted to see whether watching fast-paced television had an immediate influence on kids' executive function -- skills including attention, working memory, problem solving and delay of gratification that are associated with success in school. Television's negative effect on executive function over the long term has been established, the researchers wrote Monday in the journal Pediatrics, but less is known about its immediate effects. To test what those might be, Lillard and Peterson randomly assigned 60 4-year-olds to three groups: one that watched nine minutes of a fast-paced, "very popular fantastical cartoon about an animated sponge that lives under the sea;" one that watched nine minutes of slower-paced programming from a PBS show "about a typical U.S. preschool-aged boy;" and a third group that was asked to draw for nine minutes with markers and crayons. Immediately after their viewing and drawing tasks were complete, the kids were asked to perform four tests to assess executive function.  Unfortunately for the denizens of Bikini Bottom, the kids who watched nine minutes of the frenetic high jinks of the "animated sponge" scored significantly worse than the other kids." -  Los Angeles Times (Sept 2011)  and  Pediatrics (Sept 2011)  and Medical News Today (Sept 2011)  and  USA Today (Sept 2011)  and  Science Daily (Sept 2011)  and  Mail Online (Sept 2011)  and  PsychCentral (Sept 2011)  and  Earth Sky (Sept 2011)  and  Obesity Panacea (Sept 2011)  and  The New York Times (Sept 2011)  and  San Francisco Chronicle (Sept 2011)  and  Psypost (Sept 2011)  and  sott.net (Sept 2011)  and  Psychology Today (Sept 2011)  and  Live Science (Sept 2011)  and  US News Health (Sept 2011)  and  MedPage Today (Sept 2011)

"Christakis's mice were divided into two groups, one in a normal environment and one in which the mice were overstimulated. After the first 10 days of the mice's lives, the overstimulated mice's cartons were bombarded with audio from cartoons and flashing lights that were in rhythm with the audio for six hours a night. Their mothers also remained in the cartons with them. Then they tested cognition, behavior, and activity in the mice. They found that the overstimulated mice were hyperactive, took more risks, and had learning problems.” - Medical Daily (July 2012)  and  Scientific Reports (July 2012)  and  Seattle Mama Doc (Jan 2012)  and  You Tube (Dec 2011)  and  NCBI (July 2012)  and  International Business News (Feb 2012)  and  Neuro Research Project (July 2012)  and  Roots of Action (2012)  and  tvSmarter Blog (March 2014) 

"Middle-class 6-year-olds matched for sex, age, pretest WPPSI IQ, and TV-viewing time were blindly assigned to a restricted TV-viewing group or an unrestricted group. Restricted parents halved subjects' previous TV-viewing rates and interacted 20 min./day with subjects for a 6-week period. Unrestricted TV parents provided similar interactions but did not limit viewing. Results tentatively suggest that TV restriction enhanced Performance IQ, reading time, and reflective Matching Familiar Figures scores." - Journal of Applied Developmental Psychology (Winter 1980)

"Watching too much television can change the structure of a child's brain in a damaging way, according to a new study. Researchers found that the more time a child spent viewing TV, the more profound the brain alterations appeared to be. The Japanese study looked at 276 children aged between five and 18, who watched between zero and four hours TV per day, with the average being about two hours. MRI brain scans showed children who spent the most hours in front of the box had greater amounts of grey matter in regions around the frontopolar cortex - the area at the front of the frontal lobe. But this increased volume was a negative thing as it was linked with lower verbal intelligence, said the authors, from Tohoku University in the city of Sendai. They suggested grey matter could be compared to body weight and said these brain areas need to be pruned during childhood in order to operate efficiently. ‘These areas show developmental cortical thinning during development, and children with superior IQs show the most vigorous cortical thinning in this area,’ the team wrote." -  Daily Mail (Jan 2014)  and  Washington Post (Dec 2013)  and  Cerebral Cortex (Nov 2013)

"Subsequent work by Malach and colleagues has found that, when we're engaged in intense "sensorimotor processing" - and nothing is more intense than staring at a massive screen with Dolby surround sound while wearing 3-D glasses - we actually inhibit these prefrontal areas. The scientists argue that such "inactivation" allows us to lose ourself in the movie" - Frontal Cortex (Jan 2010)

"There was greater frontal lobe activation in children when they were engaged in a picture book reading task with their mothers, as opposed to passive viewing of a videotape in which the story was read to them. Social and verbal engagement of the mother in reading picture books with her young child may mediate frontal brain activity in the child." -  Pubmed (Oct 2009) 

"The EEG studies similarly show less mental stimulation, as measured by alpha brain-wave production, during viewing than during reading."  -  Scientific American (Feb 2002)

TV & Depression in Children

"British children who spend most time in front of televisions and computer screens have lower self-esteem and greater emotional problems, according to a study published today by Public Health England." -  The Independent (August 2013)

"Children who spend longer than two hours in front of a computer or television screen are more likely to suffer psychological difficulties, regardless of how physically active they are." - Science Daily (Oct 2010)  and  CNet News (Oct 2010)  and  Live Science (Oct 2010)

"As we approach Halloween, it is important for adults to remember to be sensitive to the needs of children. Joanne Cantor has documented how seeing the wrong movie (e.g., teen horror movie) at the wrong time (under 12) can scar a person for years (e.g., making them afraid of the dark, needing to sleep with a light on)." - Psychology Today (Oct 2010)  and  Mind Your Media (May 2006)

"Teens who spend more time watching television or using computers appear to have poorer relationships with their parents and peers, according to a report in the March issue of Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine, one of the JAMA/Archives journals." - EurekAlert! (March 2010)  and   Science Daily (March 2010)  and  MedPage Today (March 2010)

"High levels of Television viewing and low levels of physical were both independently associated with psychological distress. An additive effect was found in that the combination of high television viewing and low physical activity was associated with the highest levels of psychological distress." -  Child-Psych.org (June 2009)  and  Pediatrics (May 2009)

"Teens who spend long hours watching television are at higher risk for depression as adults, a new study finds."  - Health News (Feb 2009)  and  Los Angeles Times (Feb 2009)  and  MedPage Today (Feb 2009)

"Researchers found that children who watched more than two hours of television per day from age 2 1/2 until age 5 1/2 were more likely to develop sleep, attention, and aggressive behavior problems than those who watched less." -  Science Daily (Oct 2007)  and  WebMD (Oct 2007)  and  MedPage Today (Oct 2007)  via  Unplug Your Kids  (Oct 2007)

"Our homes are crammed with labour-saving devices and electronic entertainment that previous generations couldn't even dream of. Surely our children should be growing happier every year? According to figures released last month, one in ten children now suffers from a clinically-recognised mental health problem.... A damning survey by the National Consumer Council, reported in the Mail, revealed that children who watch too much television and spend hours on the internet are "greedy and unhappy". "These children argue more with their families, have a lower opinion of their parents, and lower self-esteem than other children," the report said."  - The Daily Mail (July 2007)

"In a letter to The Daily Telegraph, 110 teachers, psychologists, children's authors and other experts call on the Government to act to prevent the death of childhood." They write: "We are deeply concerned at the escalating incidence of childhood depression and children's behavioural and developmental conditions."  -  The Daily Telegraph (Sept 2006)  and  Mail Online (Sept 2006)


"While any individual publication can be picked apart and perhaps even dismissed, it is highly unlikely that dozens would skew the same way.   Every month in the medical journals new papers suggest that without skillful management from adults, media influences children for the worse.  Not only behavior but poor sleep, attention problems, obesity and even long term adult lifespan have been linked to screen time.   Much like Nate Silver’s view on the elections, the odds are poor that study after study would randomly reveal these negative effects."  -  Psychology Today (March 2013)

Scientists Recommending 1 to 2 Hours at Most

"Many parents want to curb their children's TV time, but aren't sure how to go about it, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP). The AAP researchers offered these suggestions:" - Life123 

"The Japan Pediatric Association, for one, is warning parents about the potential adverse effects of relying on smartphones, tablets, and other mobile devices to serve as “babysitters.” “When children become upset, many parents give them a smartphone to keep them quiet,” the association’s executive director, Hiromi Utsumi, told The Japan News last week." - Associations Now (Nov 2013)

"Limit the amount of total entertainment screen time to <1 to 2 hours per day. Discourage screen media exposure for children <2 years of age. Keep the TV set and Internetconnected electronic devices out

of the child’s bedroom." - AAP Policy (Oct 2013)  and  CNet (Oct 2013)  and  Scientific American (Oct 2013)

"For health benefits, children (aged 5-11 years) and youth (aged 12-17 years) should minimize the time they spend being sedentary each day. This may be achieved by: Limit recreational screen time to no more than 2 hours per day; lower levels are associated with additional health benefits."  -  Canadian Sedentary Behaviour Guidelines  and   Sedentary Behaviour Research Network (July 2011)

"Limit children's total media time (with entertainment media) to no more than 1 to 2 hours of quality programming per day." - AAP Policy (Feb 2001)

Children and Watching TV - American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry (March 2001)

"Child care settings limiting screen time, including television, cell phone, or digital media, for preschoolers (aged two-five) to less than 30 minutes per day for children in half-day programs or less than one hour per day for those in full-day programs. Health care providers counseling parents and children’s caregivers to permit no more than a total of two hours per day of screen time, including television, cell phone, or digital media, for preschoolers, including time spent in child care settings and early childhood education programs." - Institute of Medicine of the National Academies (June 2011)

No TV / Low TV

"Whole Again: Our Family after Television"  -  Mothering (Dec 2011)

"What happens if you deprive a group of 7 and 8 year olds of computers, television and games consoles for two weeks?"  -  Science Daily (June 2007)

"Why We Tuned Out"  -  Fredonia (2002)

Breaking Out of the Box. Turn Off TV. Turn on Life.

"5 days away from computer screens boosts preteens' social awareness"  -  Los Angeles Times (August 2014) 

"How much time parents spend watching television is the single biggest determinant of how much their kids watch, a survey showed." - MedPage (July 2013)

"Limit media distractions in your home. Many children are not as good at filtering out noise as adults are. This means that having the television on while your child is trying to do her homework may interfere with her ability to concentrate. Limit your child to one hour of "screen time" per day. This means limiting television, electronic games and other forms of eye-candy."  -  Psychology Today (April 2011)

"We don't expect children to regulate their own dessert intake. Most kids, if allowed to make their own choices, would elect to eat more junk food than is best for their health. Instead of letting that happen, we guide them and set boundaries that over time teach self-care. Some children need more supervision, some children need less - but all of them need guidance. In the same way, it is imperative that instead of letting anything just happen to us, parents make intentional choices about the role of media in our lives."  -  Psychology Today (April 2011)

"Children spend less time watching television and playing video games if their parents are consistent about the limits they set on screen time and insist that they get exercise, a new study found. And children who strongly agreed that their parents set consistent rules about how much television they could watch were the least likely to exceed recommended daily screen-time limits (18.1%), according to the report published online June 14 in Pediatrics." - MedPage Today (June 2010)

"Children are more likely to watch high levels of television if their parents do, but parents do not need to be physically active to help their children to be active, a new study has found." - The Medical News (May 2010)  and  e! Science News (May 2010)

"Living in high income areas was associated with less television watching, a finding that held even when controlling for parental education, household income and race." - Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health  (2008)

"Public Program Helps Cut Kids' TV Time"  -  Statesman (June 2005)  and  Health Day (June 2005)

Stanford Student Media Awareness to Reduce Television (SMART) curriculum is being used in California and Michigan. SMART in San Francisco,  SMART in Canada

Like the sorcerer of old, the television set casts its magic spell,

freezing speech and action, turning the living into silent statues

so long as the enchantment lasts. The primary danger of the

television screen lies not so much in the behavior it produces -

although there is danger there - as in the behavior it prevents:

The talks, the games, the family festivals, and the arguments

through which much of the child's learning takes place and

through which his character is formed. Turning on the television

set can turn off the process that transforms children into people.

- Urie Bronfenbrenner

TV Contributes to Noisy Home Environment

"We've known for a long time that chronic noise is having a devastating effect on academic performance of children in noisy homes and schools" - Education World (July 1997)

"A child's brain has to work overtime in a noisy classroom to do its typical but very important job of distinguishing sounds whose subtle differences are key to success with language and reading. But that simply is too much to ask of the nervous system of a subset of poor readers whose hearing is fine, but whose brains have trouble differentiating the "ba," "da" and "ga" sounds in a noisy environment, according to a new Northwestern University study." - Science Daily (July 2009)

TV and Sleep

"Interestingly, the researchers found that those children who fell asleep later spent more time watching TV. This may be because of the content, or the increased light exposure. Regardless or the cause, it is consistent with what other researchers have found, and suggests that limiting screen time (or eliminating it altogether) may be an effective strategy for helping children and adolescents get an appropriate amount of sleep. This is important, as we know that insufficient sleep adversely affects cognition and behavior, as well as physical and emotional wellbeing." - Psychology Today (June 2013)

"The more TV children watch before bedtime, the less sleep they get, researchers found." - MedPage Today (Jan 2013)

"According to researchers at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's (CDC) Division of Adolescent and School Health, teens who spend two hours or more on non-academic computer use or video games every day are less likely to get enough sleep than their more "unplugged" peers." -  Psychology Today (Nov 2011) 

"Based on information recorded in the 2007 Youth Risk Behavior Survey (YRBS), just under 70% of students surveyed said they got less than eight hours of sleep nightly, Lela McKnight-Eily, MD, and colleagues reported. That lack of sleep was associated with an increased risk of a number of unhealthy behaviors including drug and alcohol use, physical inactivity, and suicidal thoughts, the authors wrote in Preventive Medicine."  MedPageToday (Sept 2011)

"Video games, mobile phones and TV are keeping children up at night, answers to a BBC questionnaire suggest." - BBC News (Feb 2010) 

"Children with TVs in their room sleep less" - E! Science News (Sept 2008)

"A growing body of research is finding that infants and children under the age of 3 who watch TV — even too much TV during the day — struggle with interrupted sleep and irregular bed and naptime schedules.  A recent study found that children under age 3 who watch television are at higher risk of disturbed sleep. Other studies have looked at the effects of TV viewing on older children and teens, and also found a link between TV, poor sleep and later bedtimes." -  Health Blog (Feb 2008) 

"TV Time Disrupts Tots' Sleep" - Health News (Oct 2005)

"Children who spend hours in front of the television could be storing up sleep problems for later in life, say scientists. Watching three hours or more a day leaves teenagers twice as likely to develop sleep problems when they get older." - Daily Mail (Oct 2004)

"Of the 280 examined in the Pediatrics study, those who slept for fewer than eight hours were the most hyperactive." - BBC News (April 2009) 

"Reducing the amount of sleep students get at night has a direct impact on their performance at school during the day. According to classroom teachers, elementary and middle school students who stay up late exhibit more learning and attention problems, Brown Medical School and Bradley Hospital research shows." - Science Daily - (Nov 2005)

"Feelings of depression and low self-esteem plague children as they advance through middle school because they get increasingly less sleep, according to a new study of 2,259 Illinois students. - Science Daily (Feb 2004)

Children & The Natural Environment

Pergams and another researcher set out to determine why visitation to national parks dropped 25 percent between 1987 and 2003.

Nature Conservancy President Steve McCormick said the study suggests Americans and their children in particular are losing their connection to the natural world.

Childhood pastimes are increasingly moving indoors - Free Range Kids versus Battery Cage kids

Last Child in the Woods: Saving Our Children from Nature-Deficit Disorder (2006)

"In a typical week, only 6 percent of children ages nine to thirteen play outside on their own. Studies by the National Sporting Goods Association and by American Sports Data, a research firm, show a dramatic decline in the past decade in such outdoor activities as swimming and fishing. Even bike riding is down 31 percent since 1995." - Alternet


"Adolescents may be more likely to start having sex before age 14 because of adult-themed TV and movies they watched when they were young kids, it was reported here. However, the converse was not found to be true -- having sex at an early age did not appear to make teens more avid consumers of shows aimed at adult audiences, according to a study led by Hernan Delgado, M.D., a pediatrician at Children's Hospital in Boston." - MedPage (May 2009)

"We next examined whether tweens were picking up on these messages, and that research was just published in Developmental Psychology. We wondered if the synergy between the fame-oriented content of popular TV shows and the opportunity to post online videos and status updates for "friends" and strangers created the perfect storm for a desire for fame. In our discussions, we asked preteens what they wanted in their future. Their number one choice? Fame." - Huffington Post (Jan 2013)

"Greater Exposure to Sexual Content in Popular Movies Predicts Earlier Sexual Debut and Increased Sexual Risk Taking" - Science (July 2012)  and  Psychology Today (Aug 2012)  and  Psychology Today (Aug 2012)

"The likelihood of 20-somethings moving to another state has dropped well over 40 percent since the 1980s, according to calculations based on Census Bureau data. The stuck-at-home mentality hits college-educated Americans as well as those without high school degrees. According to the Pew Research Center, the proportion of young adults living at home nearly doubled between 1980 and 2008, before the Great Recession hit. Even bicycle sales are lower now than they were in 2000. Today’s generation is literally going nowhere."  -  The New York Times (March 2012)

"While popular TV shows of past generations, such as "Happy Days," focused on values including benevolence, self-acceptance and tradition, today's shows emphasize fame as the No. 1 value, according to a new study."  -  Live Science (July 2011)  and   Parent Dish (July 2011)

"Teens who spend long hours watching television are at higher risk for depression as adults, a new study finds."  - Health News (Feb 2009) - More on this study - Los Angeles Times (Feb 2009)  and  MedPage Today (Feb 2009)

"Study First to Link TV Sex To Real Teen Pregnancies" - Washington Post (Nov 2008)

"Not only was viewing more romance-themed TV shows associated with teenagers having more traditional views of gender roles, but having these views was in turn associated with teenagers have more romantic partners and starting to go on dates from a younger age."  -  BPS Research Digest (July 2008)

"Teens Who Have TV In Their Bedroom Are Less Likely To Engage In Healthy Habits, Study Shows" - Science Daily (April 2008)

"A report of the American Psychological Association (APA) released today found evidence that the proliferation of sexualized images of girls and young women in advertising, merchandising, and media is harmful to girls' self-image and healthy development." - Science Daily (Feb 2007)

"Does Watching Sex on Television Influence Teens’ Sexual Activity?"  -  Rand Health (2004)

"Watching Sex on Television Predicts Adolescent Initiation of Sexual Behavior"

Pediatrics (Sept 2004)

"A steady diet of sex-saturated television might encourage teens to start sex earlier, a national survey of 1,762 kids suggests today."  -  USA Today (Sept 2004)

"A new study finds the more an adolescent watches television, the more likely they are to start smoking."  -  Bio-Medicine (Sept 2002)

"Most parents underestimate the impact movies have on their children. This study clearly shows that adolescents are much more likely to smoke or drink if their parents let them watch R-rated movies" - Science Daily (Feb 2002)

Sexual Objectification of Children

"Why 6-Year-Old Girls Want To Be Sexy" - Huffington Post (July 2012)

"Girls in grown-up, sexualized clothes rated as less intelligent and moral " - Psychology Today (Sept 2012)

"New Feminist Coalition Slams Sexed-Up Images of Girls" - Alternet (Oct 2010)

"A steady diet of exploitative, sexually provocative depictions of women feeds a poisonous trend in women's and girl's perceptions of their bodies, one that has recently been recognized by social scientists as self-objectification -- viewing one's body as a sex object to be consumed by the male gaze." - Alternet (Aug 2008)

"A report of the American Psychological Association (APA) released today found evidence that the proliferation of sexualized images of girls and young women in advertising, merchandising, and media is harmful to girls' self-image and healthy development." - Science Daily (Feb 2007)

"Report of the APA Task Force on the Sexualization of Girls" - American Psychological Association (2007)

"SPARK - Sexualization Protest: Action, Resistance, Knowledge" - SPARK


"But two restrictions remain. You have to be young. You have to have a very particular body type and long, perfect hair. The edits to Merida reflect those priorities. Her famous hair, which took six Pixar employees—a mix of artists and engineers—three years to design, has been smoothed out, made less kinky, less frizzy, and less alive. Her waist has been slimmed down, emphasizing her breasts, but at the expense of Merida's solid frame, which is a real shame given the way Brave celebrated Merida's pleasure in her body's capacities." - Slate (May 2013)

"We next examined whether tweens were picking up on these messages, and that research was just published in Developmental Psychology. We wondered if the synergy between the fame-oriented content of popular TV shows and the opportunity to post online videos and status updates for "friends" and strangers created the perfect storm for a desire for fame. In our discussions, we asked preteens what they wanted in their future. Their number one choice? Fame." - Huffington Post (Jan 2013)

"While popular TV shows of past generations, such as "Happy Days," focused on values including benevolence, self-acceptance and tradition, today's shows emphasize fame as the No. 1 value, according to a new study."  -  Live Science (July 2011)  and   Parent Dish (July 2011)

"The fundamental here is that when children watch television they are not in other fundamentally important activities for cognitive and social development." - Huffington Post (Dec 2010)

"Television and Children" - University of Michigan (Aug 2010)

"TV should be banned for toddlers and severely rationed for other youngsters to protect their health and family life, a leading psychologist will tell MEPs today."  -  Mail Online (Aug 2010)

"In what researchers call the first report of its kind, a review of 173 studies about the effects of media consumption on children asserts that a strong correlation exists between greater exposure and adverse health outcomes." - The New York Times (Dec 2008) 

"The Pornification Of A Generation: A new book traces the migration of porn culture from adult theaters to the mainstream—and asks what that means for kids." - Newsweek (Oct 2008)

Psychologist warns of "educational television" myth - Reuters (Feb 2008) via Unplug Your Kids

What do I need to know about children and television? - University of Michigan (June 2007)

Parents see media, not sex, as top worry: study - Reuters (Feb 2007)

"Middle school students who watch TV or play video games during the week do worse in school, a new study finds, but weekend viewing and gaming doesn't affect school performance much." - USAToday (Oct 2006)       More on the same study - Telegraph (Oct 2006) - More on the same study - CBS News (Oct 2006) - and more MSNBC (Oct 2006) - and more Softpedia (Oct 2006)

Childhood TV and gaming is 'major public health issue' - New Scientist (April 2006)

Childhood pastimes are increasingly moving indoors - Free Range Kids versus Battery Cage kids - USA Today (July 2005)

What About Play? When "screen time" and drills replace open-ended play, kids lose out - eRethinking Schools (2005)

PERSONAL HEALTH; TV's Toll on Young Minds and Bodies - The New York Times (Aug 2004)

"...a study which examined the association between maternal depression and television watching in children" - Psychology Today (2002)

Kids' Brains Must Be Different - Excerpted from Endangered Minds (Oct 1999)

Strangers in Our Homes: TV and Our Children's Minds - Susan Johnson, M.D. (1999)

"sleep disturbances and stomach ailments were frequently reported as resulting from a child's viewing of something frightening on TV" - Parenthood in America (1998)

Television and Children (University of Michigan)

CNN on the effects of TV on Children

CNN - Study: 'Electronic baby sitter' overexposes youth to sex, violence

CNN - Television's effects on kids: It can be harmful

CNN - Watchdogs: TV ruder, cruder despite ratings

Educational TV

Imagination is more important than knowledge, for while knowledge points to all there is, imagination points to all there will be - Einstein

But what about educational TV?  TV is an effective means of passive learning.  Unfortunately TV (educational or not) associates a very rewarding experience with no effort.  Before TV there was no equivalent experience other than day dreaming.  So kids get used to learning and being rewarded with no effort on their part, in other words watching TV is actually training their brain to be lazy. Then when it's time to start school, learning takes effort and is quite boring compared to TV.  Even play takes effort, hence the common observation that kids who watch a lot of TV are less interested in playing.

Well, why not just have the kids go to school and learn from educational TV? Education is about more than just info aquisition, it's also about learning skills, such as reading, writing, math, etc. And learning skills takes effort.  After thousands of hours of effortless learning (and being rewarded) kids are that much less motivated to make that effort. And that's something that makes life much harder for our nation's teachers.

For those kids not raised on TV, making an effort becomes second-nature. This would help explain this study: ...watching a lot of television during childhood means you are a lot less likely to have a degree by your mid-twenties, according to new University of Otago research

Maybe it's the failed work ethic of todays kids

Self-Discipline More Important Than IQ ?

Passive Learning From Television (pdf)

Habit Learning - TV Makes Learning Less Efficient

Young Children Need to Play!

The Importance of Reading

Reading versus Television

Marketing to Children: Countries where ads targeting children are banned or restricted

"In the United Kingdom, Greece, Denmark, and Belgium advertising to children is restricted, and in Quebec, Sweden and Norway advertising to children under the age of 12 is illegal." - Wikipedia

"Sweden Pushes Its Ban on Children's Ads"

Other Countries Restrict Advertising to Children

"A comparison group of children from Sweden, where advertising to children is not permitted, asked for significantly fewer items. It is argued that English children who watch more TV, and especially those who watch alone, may be socialised to become consumers from a very early age. "

"In Sweden it is considered unacceptable and is banned for children under 12 with the approval of the majority of the population."

"The province of Quebec in Canada has the lowest childhood obesity rates in the country despite having one of the most sedentary lifestyles. How is that possible? A study by Tirtha Dhar and Kathy Baylis found that Quebec’s 32 year ban on advertising to children led to an estimated: - US$88 million annual reduction in expenditures on fast food - 13.4 billion to 18.4 billion fewer fast food calories being consumed per year. The study also found that patterns established in childhood carried into adulthood, with French speaking young adults in Quebec being 38% less likely to purchase fast food than French speaking young adults in Ontario (where there is no advertising ban)."  -  Care2 (June 2012)  and   Journal of Marketing Research (2011)

"Tighter Regulations Recommended On Food Advertisements During Children's TV Viewing Times" - Science Daily (Oct 2010)

"A ban on fast food advertisements in the United States could reduce the number of overweight children by as much as 18 percent, according to a new study being published this month in the Journal of Law and Economics." - Science Daily (Nov 2008)

Marketing to Children

"Popular culture doesn’t want to raise human beings. Instead, it wants to create “human consumings” whose primary purpose in life is to spend and devour. Human consumings buy, buy, and buy in the mistaken belief that it will bring them happiness. You can observe ravenous young human consumings every day in the malls, buying clothes and shoes “they absolutely must have!” Happy children are human beings, not human consumings. Being involves children finding happiness not in things, but in experiences, relationships, and activities that offer meaning, satisfaction, and joy. The ability to just be grounds happy children in who they are rather than what they own, and gives them control over what brings them happiness." - Just Mommies

"What Do Santa and Ads Have in Common? Kids Believe in Both." - Psychology Today (Jan 2014)

"Exploiting Children One Commercial at a Time" - Huffington Post (June 2013)

"Yet the idea later proclaimed by the Jesuits is very old – give us a child till he’s seven and we’ll have him for life. It works. Many years ago a young son of my ancestors was kidnapped during a Russian pogrom. His father and brother spent years searching - everywhere. They eventually found him – living as a teenage seminarian in Constantinople. He knew nothing of his family. He had no wish to know. He just wanted to become a Russian Orthodox priest. It’s not only religious organizations that know the power of early training and indoctrination. So do food companies." - Psychology Today (March 2013) 

"The line between entertainment and advertising is becoming increasingly blurred. For example, The Hub, a television network aimed at children that has a 50 percent ownership stake by the toy manufacturer Hasbro was launched in 2010. Commercials aside, this channel’s programming is basically a direct marketing platform for selling Hasbro toys." - Psychology Today (Sept 2012) 

"Lower life satisfaction was found to lead to materialism among children who were frequently exposed to advertising." - Pediatrics (August 2012) 

"Infants to 3-year-olds: They're a new demographic marketers are hell-bent on reaching." - Ad Week (Sept 2011)

"Food and beverage corporations certainly know that advertising works. That's why these corporations spend more than a half billion dollars each year on advertisements for fast food and toy giveaways targeting teens and children. Despite the attention paid to the childhood epidemic of diet-related disease, they aren't slowing down their marketing." - Alternet (Jan 2011)

"How Modern Day Mad Men Are Making Our Kids Fat and Sick" - Psychology Today (Jan 2011)

"Today, preschoolers see 21% more fast food ads on TV than they saw in 2003, and somewhat older children see 34% more." - Yale (Nov 2010)

"Strong toy ad dollars on kids' TV networks are fueling a surprisingly higher-priced third- and fourth-quarter selling period. " - Media Post (Sept 2010)  via  Screentime Awareness

"Researchers at the University of Wisconsin and University of Michigan found that children aged three to five succumbed to the same marketing pressures as young adults, in that they understood the advertiser wanted them to buy something and that buying the product could make them happier." - CBC (March 2010)  and  Live Science (March 2010)

"Buy, Buy Baby: How Consumer Culture Manipulates Parents and Harms Young Minds" - Amazon (August 2009)

"Children’s television networks show 76 percent more food commercials per hour than other networks – and most of them are for high-fat, high-sugar foods, according to a new study." - Food Navigator (Nov 2009)

"Nine out of ten food advertisements shown during Saturday morning children's television programming are for foods of poor nutritional quality, according to researchers at the Center for Science in the Public Interest and the University of Minnesota." - Science Daily (April 2008)

"Spanish-language television is bombarding children with so many fast-food commercials that it may be fueling the rising obesity epidemic among Latino youth, according to research led by pediatricians from the Johns Hopkins Children's Center." - Science Daily (Feb 2008)

"Companies are accused of routinely hiring child and consumer psychologists to "help them target children effectively", with devastating consequences for the health and wellbeing of youngsters." -

The Telegraph (Dec 2007)

"A report of the American Psychological Association (APA) released today found evidence that the proliferation of sexualized images of girls and young women in advertising, merchandising, and media is harmful to girls' self-image and healthy development." - Science Daily (Feb 2007)

"Research has shown that young children—younger than 8 years—are cognitively and psychologically defenseless against advertising.6–9 They do not understand the notion of intent to sell and frequently accept advertising claims at face value.10 In fact, in the late 1970s, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) held hearings, reviewed the existing research, and came to the conclusion that it was unfair and deceptive to advertise to children younger than 6 years.11" - Pediatrics (Dec 2006)

"A report published this month confirms that television is effective in getting children to eat the foods advertised, driving up the association between television viewing and childhood obesity." - Food Navigator (May 2006)

"Watch Not, Want Not? Packard/Stanford Study Links Kids' TV Time and Consumerism" - Stanford News (April 2006)

"Researchers Say Prime Time for Kids Has Heavy Advertising for High-Sugar Foods" - WebMD (August 2005)

"Childhood for Sale: Consumer Culture's Bid for Our Kids" - DLC (August 2005)

"Consuming Kids: Protecting Our Children from the Onslaught of Marketing & Advertising" - Amazon (August 2005)

"Identifying determinants of young children's brand awareness: Television, parents, and peers " - Journal of Applied Developmental Psychology   (April 2005)

"What most surprised me were the results I got from my study, which found that the more kids are exposed to consumer culture, they likelier they are to become depressed, suffer from anxiety, or experience low self-esteem. I would have thought it was the other way around — that consumer culture was the symptom, not the cause." - Bloomberg Business (Oct 2004)

"The Stepford Kids" - Business Week (Sept 2004)

"Children under the age of eight are unable to critically comprehend televised advertising messages and are prone to accept advertiser messages as truthful, accurate, and unbiased, according to research analyzed by an American Psychological Association task force." - UC Santa Barbara (March 2004)

"Research shows that children under the age of eight are unable to critically comprehend televised advertising messages and are prone to accept advertiser messages as truthful, accurate and unbiased." - APA (Feb 2004)

"Children are big business. And that means my daughter is a popular kid these days. Taco Bell wants her, and so do McDonald's and Burger King. Abercrombie & Fitch has a whole store devoted to her. Pert Plus has a shampoo she'll love. Ethan Allen is creating bedroom sets she can't live without. ALPO even wants to sell her dog food. Even while I, like all American parents, am held responsible for the safety and behavior of my preteen, corporations spend over $12 billion each year to bombard her incessantly with messages that undermine my efforts." - American Prospect (Nov 2001)

"This is significant when we consider that the most essential product of the advertising industry is hunger. That is, commercials are intended to create a feeling of lack in the viewer, a deep ache that can only be assuaged by purchasing the product. As Dr. Neil Postman, chairman of the Department of Communications Arts at New York University, points out, “What the advertiser needs to know is not what is right about the product but what is wrong about the buyer.” So we hand our children over to Madison Avenue to be told, hundreds of hours a year, how hungry, bored, ugly, and unpopular they are and will continue to be until they spend (or persuade their parents to spend) a few more dollars. And then we wonder why our children feel so hungry, bored, ugly, and unpopular, and why they are so needy." - Simple to Remember (August 2001)  quote from To Kindle a Soul (August 2001)

"Effects of Reducing Television Viewing on Children's Requests for Toys: A Randomized Controlled Trial" - Journal of Developmental Behavioral Pediatrics (June 2001)

"Ever since he first started practicing, Berkeley, Calif., psychologist Allen D. Kanner, PhD, has been asking his younger clients what they wanted to do when they grew up. The answer used to be "nurse," "astronaut" or some other occupation with intrinsic appeal. Today the answer is more likely to be "make money." For Kanner, one explanation for that shift can be found in advertising. "Advertising is a massive, multi-million dollar project that's having an enormous impact on child development," says Kanner, who is also an associate faculty member at a clinical psychology training program called the Wright Institute. "The sheer volume of advertising is growing rapidly and invading new areas of childhood, like our schools."" - APA (Sept 2000)

"Regrettably, a large gap has arisen between the humane mission of psychology and the drift of the profession into helping corporations influence children for the purpose of selling products to them. The use of psychological insight and methodology to bypass parents and influence the behavior and desires of children is a crisis for the profession of psychology." - Commercial Alert  and  Commercial Alert (Sept 1999)

"Children as Consumers: Advertising and Marketing" - Sandra Calvert (Spring 2008)

Recommended Books

The Plug-In Drug : Television, Computers, and Family Life (2002)

Excellent and very readable explanations of why it is

that TV is so bad for kids.

Endangered Minds: Why Children Don't Think And What We Can Do About It (1999)

Packed full of research and quotes from brain researchers. Explain how the environment effects the development of young minds.


The Power of Reading, Second Edition: Insights from the Research (2004)

Top of the Class: How Asian Parents Raise High Achievers — and How You Can Too  Hint: less TV for both kids and parents is part of the mix.

Childhood Lost: How American Culture Is Failing Our Kids (2005)

Glued to the Tube: The Threat of Television Addiction to Today's Family (2000)

"Mommy, I'm Scared": How TV and Movies Frighten Children and What We Can Do to Protect Them

Consuming Kids: Protecting Our Children from the Onslaught of Marketing & Advertising

Born to Buy: The Commercialized Child and the New Consumer Culture (2005)

  Article by Born to Buy Author

Kick the TV Habit!: A Simple Program for Changing Your Family's Television Viewing and Video Game Habits (1994)

Breaking The TV Habit (1982)

       Review of Breaking The TV Habit


Last Child in the Woods: Saving Our Children from Nature-Deficit Disorder (2006)

Remotely Controlled: How Television Is Damaging Our Lives and What We Can Do About It (2005)

       Interview with author of "Remotely Controlled"

The TV-FREE System

Getting Unplugged - How to beat TV addiction in four not-so-easy lessons

What to Do After You Turn Off the TV (1985)

A-Z to TV-Free a beautifully illustrated book,

written for young children to inspire them to turn-off the TV.

The Berenstain Bears and Too Much TV


365 Tv-Free Activities You Can Do With Your Child

365 Afterschool Activities: Tv-Free Fun for Kids 7-12

The Read-Aloud Handbook : Sixth Edition

The TV Kid - ages 9 to 12


"Study: Parents on Smartphones Often Ignore Kids" - Psychology Today (March 2014)  and  Pediatrics (March 2014) 

Recommended Websites

Bowling Alone 

Campaign For A Commercial-Free Childhood

Ellen Currey Wilson – The Big Turnoff 

Herber Valley Unplugged

I’m Missing All Of My Shows 

Instead of TV 

Kill Your Television 

Media by Choice

Media Violence Resource Center

People Unplugged

Plato's Cave

Play Unplugged

Screen Free Project

Screen Free Week

Television vs Children 

The New Citizen

Trash Your TV

Turn Off That TV

TV Smarter - Blog 

TV Stinks 

Unplug Your Kids 

White Dot 

White Dot – Forum 

Recommended Articles

"Television Addiction Is No Mere Metaphor"

University of Otago research - TV and Academic Achievement

University of Otago research - TV and Crime

Unplug Your Brain - by Jerry Mander

Why Turnoff Completely

The Dangers of TV

TV Promoting Guns

Television and Children (University of Michigan)

Strangers in Our Homes: TV and Our Children's Minds

Excerpted from Endangered Minds - Kids' Brains Must Be Different

How Background TV Undermines Well-Being

Electronic Screen Syndrome and the rise of mental disorders in children

1000 studies over 30 years

selling audiences to advertisers

How TV Teaches Stupidity

8 Changes I Experienced After Giving Up TV

Top 5 reasons NOT to watch TV this Fall

Spudding Out

Why TV Undermines Academics & Values

Newsweek is Bad for Kids

Bowling Alone - The Strange Disappearance of Civic America

TV Legitimizing Torture

The Assault on Reason

Twilight of the Books

Evolution Of Despair

Alzheimer's & TV

Preventing Obesity

Trained to Kill

Mind-altering media

Effects of TV - Before & After

A Powerful, Massive Protest: Diminish the Corporate Media's Power by Turning off Your TV for Good!

5 Ways Parents May Be Sabotaging Their Kids’ Health

Food companies manipulate kids and parents to create lifelong loyal customers

Is an overlooked source of childhood obesity staring us in the face?

Eight Reasons Why TV is Evil

"What most surprised me were the results I got from my study, which found that the more kids are exposed to consumer culture, they likelier they are to become depressed, suffer from anxiety, or experience low self-esteem. I would have thought it was the other way around — that consumer culture was the symptom, not the cause."

TV Limiting Technology

List & Comparison of TV blockers

Token Timer

Power Cop

Play Limit

Power Plug Lock

Time Machine

Eye Timer

TV Be Gone

TV Be Gone - Article

Stanford Student Media Awareness to Reduce Television (SMART) curriculum is being used in California and Michigan. SMART in San Francisco, SMART in Canada