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TV colours every aspect of a child's life. (News in Brief: Canada).

St. John's, NFLD--Television can colour virtually all aspects of a child's life, says a consultant with the Newfoundland education department. TV can affect the belief systems and values of kids, even the food they eat, the clothes they wear, the toys they want and the way they relate to their parents.

Linda Coles, a primary education consultant, told a panel discussion on media violence that the attitudes of children toward violence, physical health, interacting with peers, even their success in school can be linked to TV viewing. Coles said many children spend more time in front of the TV set than either in school or playing.

Adults should create an environment of trust where children feel safe because, when they feel safe, they're more likely to positively approach new experiences. But many TV shows for kids teach them to distrust others and contain underlying threats. She singled out Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and the Mighty Morphin Power Rangers as examples where "danger is always present and you have to be on guard. There are no strategies in these shows to resolve conflicts and feelings of fear," she said. There's not a lot of negotiation or conciliation. Violence against others is shown as the way to achieve autonomy and power. "This undermines people's sense of solving problems without fighting," said Coles.

Another panel member, Dr. Gary Jeffrey, child development specialist at Memorial University, said young people can access facts easily through computerized networks and new technology. But, he said, the biggest need of today's child is to learn to think. "The very thing television is doing is taking that away. There's a response cost that scares me."

Jeffrey said he doesn't know all the answers to controlling TV viewing, but "if we keep talking about it, we can control this beast." Parents should talk to their children about how things are done on TV so they understand what's real and what's fantasy.

Rene Wicks, program co-ordinator with the Conception Bay South School Board, said the public should be aware commercial TV doesn't exist for the general good or to enhance our intellect. "Its main purpose is to deliver us to the marketplace. We tend to think of television as programs interrupted by commercials--but I think of it as commercials interrupted by programs," she concluded.

Over a hundred years ago Cardinal Newman wrote: "Modern man is instructed but not educated. He is taught to do things and to think enough so as to do them; but he is not taught to think more." According to Dr. Jeffery's observations, in spite of all our progress-- things haven't changed for the better in the field of public education (St. Joseph's Workers for Life and Family, Nov. 16/01).
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Title Annotation:panel discusses television's influence on children
Publication:Catholic Insight
Article Type:Brief Article
Geographic Code:1CNEW
Date:Apr 1, 2002
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