Too Much of a Bad Thing Can Be Terrible

Dear Mr. Dad: My 11-year-old son sometimes watches the evening news with me and he seems genuinely disturbed by some of it. He keeps asking why all these bad things are happening. Frankly, my wife and I aren’t sure how to answer him or whether we should even allow him to keep watching at all. Is he too young to be exposed to TV news?

A: You certainly have a point. It does seem that with the exception of an occasional feel-good story, just about all the news on TV these days is alarming: wars, violence, natural disasters, foreclosures, and other events that most of us have no control over.
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Too Much Tube?

Dear Mr. Dad: My 18-month old son is suddenly obsessed with TV. He watches at least 3-4 hours per day. My wife doesn’t see the problem since it allows her to get stuff done around the house, but I’m worried. How much TV is too much?

A: Great question—one you have every right to be concerned about. Watching too much TV is a growing problem in our society—especially for children. Studies are all over the place, but they generally show that American children watch two to six hours of television per day. Plus they spend a few more in front of other screens, watching DVDs or playing video games.
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Screen time: Limiting TV and computer games without going overboard

Dear Mr. Dad: My wife has recently begun to worry that our kids spend too much time in front of the TV, computer, and video games. While I agree that it’s too much, I remember watching loads of television as a kid, and I turned out okay. Is all the hype about “screen time” really something to be concerned about?

A: This topic reminds me of the pickle so many baby boomer parents are in when talking about premarital sex or smoking marijuana—how can I tell my kids not to do the things I did when I was their age? My parents weren’t big TV watchers, but I could hardly wait for them to go out for the evening so I could settle into a comfortable evening of Batman, Superman, The Three Stooges, and a lot more. So why worry about our kids doing the same? Well, there are two issues here: content and time.

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