Thursday, December 15, 2011

Don't give the kids Ritalin - Turn off the TV!

As a result of the accident, I stood home. My sister asked me to "babysit" my nephew. My babysitting skills are as follows: Do not let the child die. That's it. If I can do that, I'm half way there. My nephew is a sweet kid but he is hyper. He constantly has to play with his shoes or bounce a ball or hit something. The dude wont stop.

I burned the oatmeal, toast, and began to watch t.v with my nephew.

"Put it on that one!" ( a cartoon on Nickelodeon)
"Let me show you another cartoon that you will like."

I put it on Daffy Duck! That's right THAT Daffy duck and Porky Pig were on. You had two characters with different speech impediments. What can be better?

"Change it, That's boring man"

I changed the channel to Nickelodeon and the cartoons were loud. Cartoons for kids today have to catch their attention. So they must include noise and more noise, and lights and flashing lights, and music and noise and more noise. The mind has to cease thinking.

The Cult of the t.v had a loyal follower in my nephew albeit an unaware believer. He was hypnotized to the screen in a manner that would make David Koresh proud. I figured we go for a walk so I can rehab my back and enjoy the sunshine and on the way back I took him to the library where he looked lost. "There's no books here" he tells me. "There are thousands of book here", I tell him. He picks 4 and I become optimistic that the book may be mightier that the box.

We get home and the books are put away but the lights and chatter of the television draw him back. Another soul lost to the box.

I did a little research and found that studies have found that there is a link between t.v watching and long-term attention problems. In one study, kids were given a task immediately after watching Sponge Bob Square pants and the more they watched, the dumber they got (paraphrased)

This makes sense. It made me look back on the role of cartoons in our society. When I was a kid, School House Rock showed me how a bill becomes law, the function of conjunctions, and that three indeed is a magic number.

When I watched cartoons, Jazz or classical music played in the background and Bugs Bunny was making satire out of historical events. Henry Mancini played the jazz melody on The Pink Panther. Legend great Charles Mingus played the themes song on Peanuts. There was a fusion of music and art which is missing today. Incidentally, I find the Pink Panther one of the funniest cartoons AND THE CHARACTERS NEVER TALKED! Imagine that.

For all of the technology that the MTV generations has given us, it's come at a price that is to distracting to be seen.


  1. I try not to get too "damn kids and their rock n' roll" about things like this but you make a good point. Makes you wonder where that line is--are we too pessimistic about today's youth culture or is it valid?

    I have no idea what kids are watching these days, but I'm happy whenever I happen to catch the new MAD show. It has that mix of subtle and over-the-top humor I love about the magazine and think is good for kids. Entertaining without being seizure-inducing. Found this:

    (Also, dude, sorry to hear about the accident. Didn't know 'til now. Does this mean it'll take you a real hospital stay for you to start writing more? I can make that happen.)

  2. Also--you reminded me about this drawing I did in high school:

    Back then a friend and I started an Obey-style sticker campaign around TV graphics with captions like "The TV is watching you," and "think inside the box." It was fun. Now I don't leave the house.

  3. Have you noticed that this generation of kids never laugh as they watch cartoons? As kids, we used to laugh like crazy at Tweety Bird, Sylvester, Speedy Gonzales, Roadrunner etc. I set time limits for my 10 yr old grandson when he visits. 1 hour period. TV off. Otherwise he could watch for hours and never laugh.

  4. "I hope and pray that I will, but today I am still just a bill."

    Priceless. I never thought about the classical music angle to some of those old Warner Brother cartoons, but you're exactly right. In fact, I won a trivia contest on a radio a couple of months ago because I knew the actual title to the "Kill the Wabbit" song that Elmer sang. Toons today are hard for me to watch. They're sophisticated, sometimes gross and they do keep up a lot of distraction on the TV. I'm surprised that libraries aren't closing as fast as post offices. Great post!

  5. I can't stand kids cartoons these days. Our kiddos are watching nothing but the classics. At least when they're at home. Couldn't agree with you more!

  6. Very interesting... I really like it