Mind the Media

The influence of media on children is nothing new, but it has new dimensions in today's world. The possibilities for education and enlightenment are great, but, as always, the on-screen realities can be grim. The "boob tube" still lives.

So it's with trepidation we learn that 65 percent of American kids have TVs in their bedrooms (see story page 1). But it's with something like hope that we hear about efforts to improve the content on that other screen, the home computer (story, page 4).

The youngsters with televisions in their rooms - often complete with VCR and remote - tend to do worse in school than their more deprived peers, according to researchers. They also do less with the family and don't have much parental oversight of their viewing habits. No surprise there. But certainly ample cause for parental rethinking.

And computer content? There could be an underlying issue here. Countless kids, we suspect, aren't into the Internet for "content." They use it primarily as a way to chat with friends. But that can change.

A nice parent-child project would be to seek out Web sites that really feed the intellect as they entertain. Organized efforts to aid that quest by developing new, engaging Web content and steering families toward it are welcome.

Even at this maturing stage in the media age, it's never too late to bring some intelligence into the picture.

(c) Copyright 2000. The Christian Science Publishing Society

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