Sometimes you read something that – to be perfectly honest – leaves you feeling hopeless and doomed. Something so depressing it makes you want to throw up your hands, shout “to hell with it all!” and head straight to the nearest bar. Something like this, from the LA Times.
_The latest figures from Nielsen have children’s TV usage at an eight-year high. Children’s health advocates warn of adverse effects.
More than an entire day — that’s how long children sit in front of the television in an average week, according to new findings released Monday by Nielsen.
The amount of television usage by children reached an eight-year high, with kids ages 2 to 5 watching the screen for more than 32 hours a week on average and those ages 6 to 11 watching more than 28 hours. The analysis, based on the fourth quarter of 2008, measured children’s consumption of live and recorded TV, as well as VCR and game console usage.
“They’re using all the technology available in their households,” said Patricia McDonough, Nielsen’s senior vice president of insights, analysis and policy. “They’re using the DVD, they’re on the Internet. They’re not giving up any media — they’re just picking up more.”_
While this has obvious implications for the future of hunting and fishing, it also goes beyond that and straight to the core of our fundamental appreciation for nature itself. No one is born a hunter, an angler or a hiker. We all start life as a blank slate and what gets etched on that slate in our early childhood shapes who we will eventually become. You, I and everyone else who enjoys the outdoors, be they a hunter, an angler, a hiker, a birder or whatever, didn’t get that way by mainlining 32 hours of high-definition methadone: we got that way by crawling around in the dirt catching bugs, climbing trees, building forts in the back yard and stomping around in creeks. You know, being kids. That childlike wonder, the curiosity, imagination and self-guided exploration of your surroundings. That’s the base from which everything else rises. Lose that – as we most assuredly are – and you’ve lost an entire generation of children. And for what? So they can grow up to be the same mindless, self-absorbed zombie consumers their parents obviously are?
Seriously, anyone who lets their small child watch 32 hours of television, video games and Internet a week should be smacked in the head with a rolled-up copy of Richard Louv’s “Last Child in the Woods: Saving Our Children From Nature-Deficit Disorder.”
American parents, WTF are you thinking? Put down your go*****ed cellphone, get your fat a***s off Facebook, turn off the TV and pay some attention to your kids. Take them outside, let them get dirty. Let them think and explore for themselves without the help of corporate-sponsored storyline.
Good gawd, didn’t this used to be called common sense?