A Shared Passion

I watched President Barack Obama’s speech Tuesday night. For those of you who missed it, he covered everything from the economy to the war in Iraq. And once again he urged parents to turn off the television and read to their kids.

I’m beginning to think that President Obama really cares about the topic of television and children. After all, he’s been talking about it since at least 2004, when he made the same plea at the Democratic convention in the speech that brought him into the national arena.

It makes sense for Obama to be passionate about inspiring parents to use the off button a little more on the idiot box. The amount of TV kids watch affects their health and school performance, two other topics Obama cares a lot about. Kids who grow up in poor health and without a good education can’t do as much to improve the economic situation or the environment.

Obama has an uphill battle ahead of him, which is probably why he keeps repeating his message about television and video games. I’m hoping that expectant parents and the parents of young children in particular are listening to him. Creating good habits in the beginning is so much easier than waiting until kids are already hooked, and the evidence about the effects of television on babies and toddlers is well documented now.

I like what author Elizabeth Pantley has to say on the subject in an excerpt from her book, Gentle Baby Care. She gives new parents much-needed information, listing the pros and cons of television and citing the recommendation by the American Academy of Pediatrics that children under two not watch television. Although she strongly discourages its use, she is sympathetic in her approach.

“Using extraordinarily careful selection and restraint, a little bit of television can provide a parent with much-needed down time, or time to catch up on tasks that need adult-only attention,” Pantley says.

Surely, parents can hear what she has to say, and if our new president continues to reinforce the message as well, we might just experience a change we can believe in. I’m counting on as much.

Blessed Be!


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