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Thanks for these data and for the Bronfenbrenner quote. This is a valuable addition to the discussion.
I wonder, however, if these TV data are still valid. My impression is that children are now spending more time at computers--playing games, communicating with others through Facebook, etc.--and less time watching television than was true even a few years ago.
I'm not as negative about TV watching as some are. I think children learn a lot from television and computer play. In fact, there is reason to believe that the increase in abstract reasoning ability that characterizes each new generation is a result of children's increased time with virtual worlds--through TV, computers, etc. (I'll post an essay on this sometime soon.)
The downside of lots of TV and computer play, of course, is that children aren't outside getting vigorous exercise, exploring the real physical world, and interacting with other kids face to face. But here I think we run into the problem of what is cause and what is effect. I tend to think that the time children spend involved with television, computers, and other electronic media is more the result of their reduced freedom to play and explore outdoors than a cause. Children need to get away from adult supervision for a good part of their day. If the only way they can do that is by immersing themselves in TV shows and computer play, then that is what they will do. Who can blame them?
Pursuit of passions requires time for play and self-directed education.
Moral growth is promoted when we allow little ones to act on their instincts.
If allowed to help, toddlers become great work partners later in childhood.
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