Turn off the tube and pick up a book

Kids Ink - From the Washington County Free Library Children's Department

Kids Ink - From the Washington County Free Library Children's Department

April 04, 2008|By CATHERINE HALL

Media is everywhere. In fact, you are engaged with media as you read this article. But not all media are created equal, and in the realm of media, the biggest, baddest villain is the television set.

TV makes us fat and stupid. Or so suggests the statistics. Take for example these statistics, taken from, the Web site of Common Sense Media, an advocate for parental guidance in children's media consumption:

· 63 percent of kids aged 8 to 18 live in homes where the TV is on during most meals.

· An average of one food commercial is shown every five minutes during Saturday morning cartoons.

· A preschooler's risk of obesity jumps 6 percent for every hour of TV watched per day, 31 percent if the TV is in their bedroom.

Of course, none of these statistics actually proves that TV makes us fat and stupid, but some researchers have drawn some convincing conclusions.


As adults, it is up to us to combat media addiction in our children by providing them with opportunities to engage in their worlds. Start with turning off the TV, since it is the worst culprit in time-consuming media. The Center for Screentime Awareness began a campaign entitled TV Turn-off Week in 1994 to encourage families to spend more quality time together.

This year the Washington County Free Library is hosting a weeklong series of events from April 21 to 25 during TV Turn-off Week. We hope to pry our county youth away from their screens and toward real-life experience. So let yourself come unplugged, and join us at the library for a week of family music, art and storytelling.

For more information, contact the Children's Department of the Library at 301-739-3250, ext. 132, or visit us at our downtown location.

Turn Off Your TV Week booklist

Want to read a book about the impact of television on young people? Come to the library and check out one of these:

· "Get Up and Go!" by Nancy Carlson; ages 3 to 7; an encouraging request for young kids to turn off their TVs and get active.

· "Kamishibai Man" by Allen Say; ages 3 to 8; before TV sets were common in Japan, kamishibai men traveled by bicycle telling stories to children using a "paper theater."

· "Super Guinea Pig to the Rescue" by Udo Weiglet; ages 4 to 7; little guinea pig learns that making real friends is far more important than worshipping a TV superhero.

· "I Don't Want to Sleep Tonight" by Deborah Norville; ages 3 to 7; in this lift-the-flap book, a little girl learns that TV and movies are often the source of her bad dreams.

· "Library Lil" by Suzanne Williams; ages 3 to 8; a librarian turns a rough, TV-loving members of a motorcycle gang into avid readers.

· "Where the Sidewalk Ends" by Shel Silverstein; ages 6 and older; "Jimmy Jet and His TV Set" tells the tale of a boy who watches so much TV that he becomes one.

· "Cody Unplugged" by Betsy Duffey; ages 7 to 9; Cody is forced to go to camp, where he must live an entire week with no TV, video games or computer.

· "Charlie and The Chocolate Factory" by Roald Dahl; ages 8 to 12; find out what happens to Mike Teavee, who loves TV and violence more than anything else in the world.

· "A Dangerous Secret" by Ian Bone; ages 9 to 12; learn what happens to a boy who feels more real when he is watching a movie than when he is living his own life.

· "The Bridge to Teribithia" by Katherine Paterson; ages 10 to 13; what do children do when they don't have television?

· "The Library Card" by Jerry Spinelli; ages 10 to 13; four stories about young people discovering the library and books, including a girl who is experiencing TV withdraw during a TV blackout.

· "Compass in Blood" by William E. Coles; ages 14 and older; a TV journalist and a college student seek to uncover the truth about a city's most notorious crime.

Where to learn more

To learn more about media over-consumption and its role in the lives of children, you might want to visit the following Web sites:

· - Common Sense Media advocates for "media sanity, not censorship."

· -Kaiser Family Foundation is a leader in conducting studies linking entertainment media consumption and health.

· - the Kill Your Television website, run by journalist and teacher Ron Kaufman, provides links to many anti-TV resources along with some self-published articles.

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