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The Plug-In Drug: Television, Computers, and Family Life

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How does the passive act of watching television and other electronic media-regardless of their content-affect a developing child's relationship to the real world? Focusing on this crucial question, Marie Winn takes a compelling look at television's impact on children and the family. Winn's classic study has been extensively updated to address the new media landscape, inclu How does the passive act of watching television and other electronic media-regardless of their content-affect a developing child's relationship to the real world? Focusing on this crucial question, Marie Winn takes a compelling look at television's impact on children and the family. Winn's classic study has been extensively updated to address the new media landscape, including new sections on: computers, video games, the VCR, the V-Chip and other control devices, TV programming for babies, television and physical health, and gaining control of your TV.


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How does the passive act of watching television and other electronic media-regardless of their content-affect a developing child's relationship to the real world? Focusing on this crucial question, Marie Winn takes a compelling look at television's impact on children and the family. Winn's classic study has been extensively updated to address the new media landscape, inclu How does the passive act of watching television and other electronic media-regardless of their content-affect a developing child's relationship to the real world? Focusing on this crucial question, Marie Winn takes a compelling look at television's impact on children and the family. Winn's classic study has been extensively updated to address the new media landscape, including new sections on: computers, video games, the VCR, the V-Chip and other control devices, TV programming for babies, television and physical health, and gaining control of your TV.

30 review for The Plug-In Drug: Television, Computers, and Family Life

  1. 5 out of 5

    Alina

    I read this book when my 31 year old daughter was born. I could not convince my husband to give up television altogether but we incorporated many of Ms. Winn's suggestions. As a professional who evaluates pre-schoolers I highly recommend this book to all parents.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Anastasia

    7/11 So far, I'm less than impressed with this book. Being someone who is already wary of television and who has pretty much restricted her son from watching any, you wouldn't think Winn would have to work to impress me. This is the 25th anniversary edition and it almost seems like it wasn't updated at all. She provides references but they're all at the end of the book; no footnotes! Chapter 1: TV is bad because people who watch a lot of it don't spend time doing other higher quality things. Okay 7/11 So far, I'm less than impressed with this book. Being someone who is already wary of television and who has pretty much restricted her son from watching any, you wouldn't think Winn would have to work to impress me. This is the 25th anniversary edition and it almost seems like it wasn't updated at all. She provides references but they're all at the end of the book; no footnotes! Chapter 1: TV is bad because people who watch a lot of it don't spend time doing other higher quality things. Okay, I buy this. Chapter 2: Watching TV induces a state like a bad drug trip. There's no scientific evidence cited in this chapter at all. It's all anecdotes. Chapter 3: It's really hard to stop watching TV, for a number of reasons. But is it an addiction? Well, according to the one scientific study she cites, the answer is no. But that doesn't matter to Winn; she writes: "If television viewing is so bereft of value by most measures of well-being, and yet takes up the greatest part of people's leisure hours, it becomes moot whether it is defined an an addiction or simply a powerful habit. (Italics are mine.) Update 7/13 Chapters 4-7 are better. They focus more on research, on how children's brains need movement to develop, on how watching someone else do something is not the same as having the experience yourself and therefore children don't learn much from watching TV. Winn spends a lot of time attacking Sesame Street, but she shows that it needs criticism since it gets so many undeserved accolades.

  3. 5 out of 5

    booklady

    You don't need to read this book if you're already convinced of the importance of reading and the dangers of too much TV on your children and family life, but if you're ever looking for the studies which confirm what you already know in your heart, this is a good place to start. Turn off the TV. Take your kids to the library or the nearest bookstore. Read!

  4. 4 out of 5

    Lloyd Dalton

    This book sat on the shelf for a while, because I assumed I already believed everything it had to say. I was wrong. The best parts are the stories of families who have removed the TV from their house, either temporarily or permanently: The first weekend was brutal. In the absence of television, it is very difficult to keep three children occupied from sunup to sundown. We were desperate for relief. A note I made on the first Saturday captures the ambiance of the household: "I'm so exhausted I coul This book sat on the shelf for a while, because I assumed I already believed everything it had to say. I was wrong. The best parts are the stories of families who have removed the TV from their house, either temporarily or permanently: The first weekend was brutal. In the absence of television, it is very difficult to keep three children occupied from sunup to sundown. We were desperate for relief. A note I made on the first Saturday captures the ambiance of the household: "I'm so exhausted I could vomit...Toys are being scattered faster than I can pick them up." Our children are playing together, real old-fashioned playing. The two middle children made up an entire musical entitled Dolphins in the Desert. When the kids had nothing to do, they went out and made a secret hideout -- played there for many days. Personally I find I can tolerate Saturday housework as a working mother a lot better when I don't see my husband loafing near the TV. The kids really sat there for quite a while, just as if they were watching. It was pathetic. But it made us absolutely certain we'd done the right thing by chucking the set out.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Lindsey

    This book has been on my to read list for a while. This topic, how television and other "screen time" effects the individual and family, has always interested me- probably in part due to my obsession with Fahrenheit 451. I thought that the book made some really good and interesting points and a lot of the arguments in it rang true to me... However this book has the same problem as "last child in the woods." it is only loosely based on studies and scientific research and instead contains broad in This book has been on my to read list for a while. This topic, how television and other "screen time" effects the individual and family, has always interested me- probably in part due to my obsession with Fahrenheit 451. I thought that the book made some really good and interesting points and a lot of the arguments in it rang true to me... However this book has the same problem as "last child in the woods." it is only loosely based on studies and scientific research and instead contains broad interpretations of hand picked studies and observations the author thinks will reinforce her opinions. This is not necessarily a bad thing, but this style of writing and research does send up red flags and discredits some of the information found in the book. That being said I do agree with a lot of her points and have seen television addiction as a very real problem in people that I know. The issues in this book should be thought about and dealt with in every household and because of that it was worth the read.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Sharon

    I really did not see our family as having a TV addiction before I read this book. My five year old would watch "shows" every afternoon but I did not think that was a big deal. Just to prove we were not addicted I decided we would have a week of no TV. What a shock! He was not a happy kid and would argue for TV every day. We compromised on Friday being our TV day. After a few weeks, he adjusted and now he rarely asks to watch. I don't believe that TV is bad or that it will harm your child's life I really did not see our family as having a TV addiction before I read this book. My five year old would watch "shows" every afternoon but I did not think that was a big deal. Just to prove we were not addicted I decided we would have a week of no TV. What a shock! He was not a happy kid and would argue for TV every day. We compromised on Friday being our TV day. After a few weeks, he adjusted and now he rarely asks to watch. I don't believe that TV is bad or that it will harm your child's life long potential, I just love watching what he spends his time doing now instead of TV. We read a lot more books, do arts and crafts, and he actually plays with the millions of toys we have (once in a while he's even bored). There have been many arguments against TV based on content (good arguments), I liked this book because it focused on what your child is not doing while spending time watching TV (Playing!!) I wished her stats would have been more unified...

  7. 5 out of 5

    Lobug

    This book really makes one think about the role of TV in our lives- and the consequences. TV is so accepted- it used to be actually pushed on families. Now, over 20yrs after this book was first written, maybe we can see even more of the realities of what TV does to us and our kids. It's an eye-opener, for sure; and even a bit frightening. Even so, this is a very worthwhile read, and I highly recommend it. I'm not giving it 5 stars because I disagree strongly with some of the philosophy in it- bu This book really makes one think about the role of TV in our lives- and the consequences. TV is so accepted- it used to be actually pushed on families. Now, over 20yrs after this book was first written, maybe we can see even more of the realities of what TV does to us and our kids. It's an eye-opener, for sure; and even a bit frightening. Even so, this is a very worthwhile read, and I highly recommend it. I'm not giving it 5 stars because I disagree strongly with some of the philosophy in it- but the basics are quite good, and it is worth reading just for the sake of making you think about why you have a TV and how you use it. This is not a book that mainstream media will support. For that reason alone, maybe it's worth taking a look at.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Jenifer

    Even though this "revised and updated" edition comes across as a bit dated, it is jam packed with interesting information from a number of studies and families about television's impact on our children, our families, and our lives. If nothing else, it certainly makes you question the amount of media time you want your children involved in.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Megan

    It doesn't take a lot of convincing for me to believe that t.v., video games, computer games, etc. are addictive and evil. I wanted to read this book, hoping to find out how bad they REALLY were. Were our family's time limits of 1 hour of media a day sufficient protection? On days when the kids watched more, how bad off were they? In reducing or ending our media time I felt like I was up against several difficulties: 1) My husband's job requires the introduction of most new technologies into our h It doesn't take a lot of convincing for me to believe that t.v., video games, computer games, etc. are addictive and evil. I wanted to read this book, hoping to find out how bad they REALLY were. Were our family's time limits of 1 hour of media a day sufficient protection? On days when the kids watched more, how bad off were they? In reducing or ending our media time I felt like I was up against several difficulties: 1) My husband's job requires the introduction of most new technologies into our home. We own them. We have to use them and try them out. Getting rid of them isn't an option. 2) My kids were completely impossible to motivate without the incentive of a media reward. I was afraid that if I took it away completely, they'd never do their homework or practice their piano because there was no reward in it for them. This had been the case in the past. 3) My husband had a t.v. in his bedroom as a little kid and stayed up til 11:00 most nights watching late night t.v. Despite his prolific viewing habits, he's turned out to be smart, successful, and very media savvy. I sometimes looked at him and thought, "Is it really that bad?" As much as this book was already preaching to the choir when it came to my attitudes about t.v., I had two problems with this book: 1) It was written in 1977. Even though it was updated in 1985 and 2002, most of the studies were done before 1980. The shows that they talked about kids watching were "Happy Days" and "Electric Company." They were focused, primarily on t.v. and a bit on VCRs. When written this book couldn't even imagine the scope of digital devices that would become a standard in most American homes. I'm not only battling the t.v. and X-Box and Wii, but I'm battling the 7 computers, the ipad, the DS gameboys, the itouch, the smartphones, the DVR, the DVD player and so on. There is a scope of media that wasn't even fathomable when this book was written. 2) Some of the major studies used in this book are either so over the top that I (a no-media believer) couldn't swallow the connection. Or they have since been dissproven. One major study was about a town in Canada which had no t.v. access. The childrens' test scores were recorded every year before the t.v. came on the scene, and then thereafter. Test scores dropped, particularly in the measures of creativity once the t.v. had entered the town. 10 years later however, they found that it was not the t.v. that dropped the test scores. It was the industrialization of the town and the influx of numerous immigrant and low income families who entered the town for the economic opportunities that industrialization brought. This is the whole reason the town got t.v. Of course, this book didn't record the newest information on this study, because this was one of the strongest cases in the book. I will admit that at least partly as a result of reading this book we turned off the t.v. and computers during the school week. Our kids now get 1 hour on Friday and 1 hour on Saturday IF their homework was all finished and their chores are all done. It has been the greatest thing we have ever done. I have no regrets. The kids are much happier and much better at entertaining themselves. They practice their instruments more. They are more diligent about their homework. And they aren't "sneaking" media time. One of the things that resonated for me was hearing the other parents interviewed about their reasons for why they won't "cut the cord" on the t.v. They were using the same weak rationales that I had been. It was disarming to hear it coming from someone else. Other things I learned: T.V.--even educational t.v. does NOT increase a child's vocabulary. In fact it decreases it. While watching t.v. the brain is in a state of passivity or stupor. It's not resting, because a child is not asleep, but it is not engaged. In an experiment where two groups of school aged children were read a story, one group saw the illustrations on the television screen while the other group saw the actual book illustrations. The same narrator read in both cases. Children who had the actual book read to them had a much higher comprehension of what happened in the book than did the children who had looked at the book illustrations on the t.v. screen. While t.v. may not be particularly destructive or detrimental, it takes time that could be spent much doing better things. Children could be playing outside, they could be crafting or creating. They could be socializing. They could be eating a family meal and talking about their day. Parents have always had a hard time keeping their children entertained all day long. Long before t.v. came on the scene, parents used sedatives and depressants to seek relief from the normal behavior of their children. They also controlled their behavior with starvation and public beatings. Mostly, this book just gave me the courage to do what I've been meaning/wanting to do for a long time. It helped me verbalize what I was already observing, but what I had felt powerless to change. Happy that we're on this end of the media battle.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Nikki Edgar

    Very interesting! I learned a lot!

  11. 5 out of 5

    Don LaFountaine

    This was an okay book, updated 25 years after it was originally published, that made some valid points only then to go off on a tangent. The premise of the book is that kids are spending a lot of time watching television; so much screen time that they are not experiencing life, and not developing their skills and are becoming out of control monsters that parents, “through no fault of their own” and unable to control. Some of the points that she makes about how horrible television is are: - That i This was an okay book, updated 25 years after it was originally published, that made some valid points only then to go off on a tangent. The premise of the book is that kids are spending a lot of time watching television; so much screen time that they are not experiencing life, and not developing their skills and are becoming out of control monsters that parents, “through no fault of their own” and unable to control. Some of the points that she makes about how horrible television is are: - That it is not what the kids watch but how long they watch. To a certain extent, this makes sense. If a child is watching TV for hours and hours on end, they won’t be spending time playing, reading and/or interacting with their parents and friends. However, she then goes further to say that it does not matter how violent or non-violent the show is; there is no difference between watching Mr. Rogers and Sesame Street and watching shows that are filled with violence. Though hours of TV/screen time may not good, it doesn’t take a social scientist to know that hours of Sesame Street would be better for a 4 year old than hours of NCIS. - TV changes the state of being of the child, making it difficult to begin interacting again with others. Most people know from experience that what watching television can turn you into a sort of “zombie”…your brain shuts down, you kind of stare at the TV/screen, and you sometimes don’t want to stop watching when people come over. (You can see this very often with people and their cellphones.) She then goes on to say, using parental quotes, that children most often get post-television crankiness. This in turn is harmful and impedes a child development, and she questions if television is “a trip”, and if it is, it must be addictive. - The power of the screen is such that parents and children don’t have any control over it. The author says: “Just as alcoholics are only vaguely aware of their addiction, so people overestimate the control that they have over television and other screens. This may very well be true, but then the rest of the section is how parents just can’t control their children, how it’s TV’s fault, and how it really is not the parent’s fault for their kid’s behavior. - Computers in the classroom are just more screen time and are not terribly helpful. It has come to the point now that kids can’t do anything at school without an I-pad…homework, studying, and even interacting in class. This is an argument in which I wholeheartedly agree; I feel that technology in today’s school system has gone too far. - That television is so powerful and that dangerous that parents are throwing up their hands trying to discipline their children. According to the author, “By allowing parents to bring up undisciplined children, television may even have contributed to the exodus of mothers from the home.” What??? Evel Knievel could not have made that leap!!! An example of the discipline problem the author uses is quoting a parent saying that they tell their kids that they are done with TV and it will be permanently shut off, only to give the TV back when the kids get a little loud. Maybe the fault is not entirely the TV’s like the author wants the reader to believe, but maybe some responsibility belongs to the parents. All in all, this was an okay book. Written in 1977, and updated in 2002, the author makes some valid points; points that in our screen filled society are worthy to examine and take stock in. However, many, many times she would then go off on a tangent that to me made no sense. Surely kids spending much of their free time sitting in front of a TV, computer, I-pad, or cellphone does limit their play time, contributes to the obesity epidemic, and may have even contribute to the delinquency of today’s children in some ways. However, I would be willing to bet that if some of these parents who are quoted in the book got rid of their TV/screens, their problems would still be found in their homes. By not holding the inconsistent parenting and use of TV/screen time as a babysitter, and by solely faulting the machine, I feel the author does a disservice to the reader. If possible, I would have rated this book 2 ½ stars. However, since it is not, and there were too many times I read something only to end up shaking my head in disbelief to what I read, I gave it only 2 stars.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Rebekah

    I like reading things that foster my sense of moral superiority. ............ Now, having read it: It's all pretty obvious and intuitive. Well, almost all: there's also a lot that's totally illogical and not backed up by any evidence. Oh well. But for anyone torn on the issues of television and other "screen" forms of entertainment, the chapters A Defense of Reading, Computers in the Classroom, and Home Electronics challenge the most common defenses of television shows and computer games. The main I like reading things that foster my sense of moral superiority. ............ Now, having read it: It's all pretty obvious and intuitive. Well, almost all: there's also a lot that's totally illogical and not backed up by any evidence. Oh well. But for anyone torn on the issues of television and other "screen" forms of entertainment, the chapters A Defense of Reading, Computers in the Classroom, and Home Electronics challenge the most common defenses of television shows and computer games. The main points: 1)no matter how educational the program is intended to be, kids do not learn by watching a screen, especially very young children; they need eye contact and feedback that can only come from a person 2)the medium itself is detrimental in that children who get the instant gratification that comes with channel flipping and "magazine" style shows that switch quickly from one thing to the next do not learn how to invest themselves in things that may require more effort to "get into," but that eventually are more fulfilling (such as BOOKS!) 3)no matter how good a program, it can never compete with the things children would otherwise be doing with their time. There are the obvious things, like reading and playing outdoors, but the author points out that even the things parents are trying to avoid by plopping the kids in front of the TV, such as fighting with siblings, are necessary parts of growing up (in the case of fighting with siblings, the point is that that's how kids learn to compromise, share, work out differences...) There's a small nod to simple toys, too, which I found interesting. I'd always felt slightly repulsed by all the fancy new electronic toys (for children and adults)on the market, but couldn't pinpoint why. The author gives an example of a toy train: with a simple wooden train, a kid can roll it around under chairs and up sofas, make train noises, imagine what the conductor is saying, where the train is going, thus creating new stories every time to match his mood and bolster his sense of self as a creative, productive person; he can also make up stories about family members going away or coming back, or about himself leaving everything behind, thus working through issues he has no other way of addressing. But bring a kid a fancy, real-looking train that goes around on a track and toots real steam, and he'll be immediately drawn to it- people of all ages choose what's easiest. But there's not much he can do with it. He can look at it. Everything else is already done for him. And once that novelty wears off, he'll be that much more accustomed to passive entertainment, to instant gratification; it will be harder to convince him to play creatively as he did before, because that kind of play is harder- he'll continue to turn to easier entertainment which is, ultimately, less fulfilling.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Aaron

    As one might guess from the title, The Plug-In Drug does not present a very favorable impression of the influence of television in our lives. The book decries television’s detrimental effects on individuals, families, and communities from every angle imaginable (at least by me). These include: common sense about large doses of television‘s effect on developing children, scientific studies on the physiological effects of watching TV and large group correlation between TV viewing and other aspects As one might guess from the title, The Plug-In Drug does not present a very favorable impression of the influence of television in our lives. The book decries television’s detrimental effects on individuals, families, and communities from every angle imaginable (at least by me). These include: common sense about large doses of television‘s effect on developing children, scientific studies on the physiological effects of watching TV and large group correlation between TV viewing and other aspects of life (e.g. academics), historical trends that may be connected with TV’s prominent rise in everyday life (e.g. decrease in community involvement and socializing), and personal experiences of parents with TV and their families. The style of the book is simple and enjoyable. The book continually works to persuade the reader to a particular point of view, but is thankfully free from the shrillness that so often accompanies such efforts. As is always the case with books that present scientific information in a supportive role, I realize that there might be another scientific side that is not being presented. The most valuable part of my reading experience invariably comes from the personal thoughts that grow from the seeds that are planted by the book. More than informing me about television, reading this book helped me to realize ways in which I can be a better parent (not having anything to do with television in our home) and did so in a positive inspiring way. I am always grateful for books with such an effect. But with regards to television (and more generally, electronic media) it prompted me to think about the experiences, good and not so good, that I have had with television. As I have done so I must agree that the cons seem to outweigh the pros, that I myself have difficulty controlling my television habits, and that, quite frankly, I would probably be better off without a television at all.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Marshall

    This is a good book about television and its detrimental effects on children and families. What I found most interesting was the discussion on content. Most parents focus their concerns about television on censoring what their kids watch. There's a common belief that some programs are seriously damaging to children, while others can be educational and even downright healthy. The most common form of this belief is that watching violent programs causes kids to become violent, an idea that never sa This is a good book about television and its detrimental effects on children and families. What I found most interesting was the discussion on content. Most parents focus their concerns about television on censoring what their kids watch. There's a common belief that some programs are seriously damaging to children, while others can be educational and even downright healthy. The most common form of this belief is that watching violent programs causes kids to become violent, an idea that never sat right with me. While watching such programs may cause kids to become more aggressive, that's a far cry from "violent." This book points out that there is no research that studies whether peaceful programs causes kids to become more peaceful, something which sounds absurd and yet should be true if the opposite were true. There is evidence, however, that it's not the content that causes aggressiveness, but television itself, and that kids become more aggressive no matter what they watch. This focus on content is usually framed as a concern for the "needs of children." This book puts a whole different spin on this, that it's not really the needs of children that are the issue, but the needs of the parents. Children, this book points out, haven't changed much throughout history, and yet many put the blame for various cultural declines on the children, when they talk about "kids these days..." It's actually the parents that have changed, not the kids. Parents have found television an irresistable source of cheap and easy childcare, and it's the parents' choice how much television their kids can watch. This book makes the case that, though less passive activities may cause more stress for the parents, overall it's worth it. Turning off the TV tends to increase academic scores, bring families together, nurture a sense of community, and generally makes life more interesting.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Mike

    This book focuses of the effects of TV on Children. She persuasively argues that heavy TV viewing (3-6 hours a day) creates passive, irritable, and unimaginative kids. Her main point is that it is the primarily the medium of TV / Computers/ video games that leads to these undesirable traits and not the content of the programing, although that can have negative effects. Winn supports each argument with research and testimonials of parents. At times I felt she could have more supporting evidence, This book focuses of the effects of TV on Children. She persuasively argues that heavy TV viewing (3-6 hours a day) creates passive, irritable, and unimaginative kids. Her main point is that it is the primarily the medium of TV / Computers/ video games that leads to these undesirable traits and not the content of the programing, although that can have negative effects. Winn supports each argument with research and testimonials of parents. At times I felt she could have more supporting evidence, but I found those points to be true from experience. I was particularly struck by how many parents said they couldn't cope without TV. How could they cook dinner or do much else around the house if they couldn't use TV to entertain them for awhile? It is very tempting to use TV as a baby sitter. Application I realized that my lack of desire to read more weighty books has decreased greatly. One strong correlation is when we went from dial up to DSL. I find I would much rather surf the web than read or even watch a long involved movie. Even though we don't watch much TV, we do use the web a lot. I can see how the quick stimulation from quick rapid information has killed my desire to read a long Dickens novel. Oh, and by the way, Winn found that heavy TV and computer users don't read much. Hmmm...I think I see a connection.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Jon

    Books exposing some previously little-noted social problem often date badly--SILENT SPRING and UNSAFE AT ANY SPEED may be cultural touchstones, but you don't see many people reading either one these days. Winn's call-to-arms against TV's tyranny over our lives, first published in 1978, is definitely an exception to this rule, and her additional material about computers, video games and so on only makes a great book even more relevant to the present. A true iconoclast, Winn isn't afraid to attack Books exposing some previously little-noted social problem often date badly--SILENT SPRING and UNSAFE AT ANY SPEED may be cultural touchstones, but you don't see many people reading either one these days. Winn's call-to-arms against TV's tyranny over our lives, first published in 1978, is definitely an exception to this rule, and her additional material about computers, video games and so on only makes a great book even more relevant to the present. A true iconoclast, Winn isn't afraid to attack icons such as Dr. Spock (who suggested in a 60s edition of BABY AND CHILD CARE that a small child should have a TV in his own room if the family could afford it, then dropped that advice from later editions). Interesting to compare the cover photos on different editions of Winn's book: the pocketbook edition of the original has a group of boys and girls (complete with a token black for each sex, seated next to each other) gathered around a very 70s-looking set with rabbit ears, the trade-paper 80s version shows a more spread-out group of fewer kids and was taken from the back--presumably to produce a more effective display of the way TV controls young minds--while the most recent update has a cute little boy lying on the couch with remote in outstretched hand, offering what free time he has to the gods, or demons, of popular culture.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Kerith

    Yes, this was the revised edition but much of it was original, I could tell, and still very relevant. I found this book to be quite a valuable read, if a bit depressing. I came to the book with already set opinions on television and young children so I suppose it was preaching to the choir, but what she sets out in here makes so much sense that readers with differing opinions could learn a lot, change their minds, have great discussions on the matter. The premise is that too many people place em Yes, this was the revised edition but much of it was original, I could tell, and still very relevant. I found this book to be quite a valuable read, if a bit depressing. I came to the book with already set opinions on television and young children so I suppose it was preaching to the choir, but what she sets out in here makes so much sense that readers with differing opinions could learn a lot, change their minds, have great discussions on the matter. The premise is that too many people place emphasis on the quality of the TV shows, that if the kids are watching decent shows the quantity of the TV time doesn't matter. Her point is that if your children are sitting in front of the TV all day, they are not learning to amuse themselves (in a less passive manner) -- and that it is addictive. The revised edition also discusses the impact of video games and computers. My one complaint was a very definite whiff of blame placed on "working mothers" throughout the books, as a reason for the "decline of the family". Lovely, thanks for the sexism.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Rick

    This is a really great book, well written, considered, and hugely thought provoking. I have two young boys and the description of kids staring, slack jawed at the television really resonated. There were two key messages, that still seem to be missed in popular discussion of the impact of TV on kids. Firstly that it is not so much what is watched - but the fact that the time spent passively watching TV is time spent not doing something more developmental (ie almost anything else). 2-4 hours a day This is a really great book, well written, considered, and hugely thought provoking. I have two young boys and the description of kids staring, slack jawed at the television really resonated. There were two key messages, that still seem to be missed in popular discussion of the impact of TV on kids. Firstly that it is not so much what is watched - but the fact that the time spent passively watching TV is time spent not doing something more developmental (ie almost anything else). 2-4 hours a day of staring at a screen is an awful lot of time that could be productively used on other pursuits. Secondly that TV for kids is primarily used by parents as a surrogate babysitter (I know I've been guilty of this) rather than as an educational tool. I would love to do without a TV, but suspect my other half would not agree (unless I can get her to read this book too.)

  19. 5 out of 5

    Andrea

    For me, this book is amazing and this woman has an almost uncanny ability to put her finger right on the heart of the matter. I feel like she is giving words to so many of my greatest concerns as I struggle with my children, myself, and the use of screens in my house. Unlike many non-fiction advice/ self-help books, this one is not repetitive and could not be properly summed up in a paragraph or two. I have skimmed it and am now reading it through from the beginning. When I finish I think I will For me, this book is amazing and this woman has an almost uncanny ability to put her finger right on the heart of the matter. I feel like she is giving words to so many of my greatest concerns as I struggle with my children, myself, and the use of screens in my house. Unlike many non-fiction advice/ self-help books, this one is not repetitive and could not be properly summed up in a paragraph or two. I have skimmed it and am now reading it through from the beginning. When I finish I think I will start over--I really want to internalize so much of what she is saying. It is a very exciting and inspiring read (for me).

  20. 4 out of 5

    Mark

    Right on. Winn argues (convincingly) that the current structure of the debate over television is missing the point. It isn’t so much the content (though that obviously matters as well), it is the act of television watching that is so problematic. “…Given the amount of time most children spend at the single experience of television watching, the question of whether the stuff they learn from the programs is helpful or harmful pales in importance when compared to questions about the experience itse Right on. Winn argues (convincingly) that the current structure of the debate over television is missing the point. It isn’t so much the content (though that obviously matters as well), it is the act of television watching that is so problematic. “…Given the amount of time most children spend at the single experience of television watching, the question of whether the stuff they learn from the programs is helpful or harmful pales in importance when compared to questions about the experience itself and the time devoted to it – whether that is helpful or harmful.”

  21. 4 out of 5

    Brandy

    This was good, if a little dated. Some parts were updated and some were not, though on the whole they were still applicable. I've read a number of books along these lines, so most of the information was not new to me, so I think that made it a little more of a slower read for me. Lots of research information, which can be interesting at times and a pain to wade through at others. A good read though for those looking for a scientific evaluation of the effects of TV, movies, and computers, beyond This was good, if a little dated. Some parts were updated and some were not, though on the whole they were still applicable. I've read a number of books along these lines, so most of the information was not new to me, so I think that made it a little more of a slower read for me. Lots of research information, which can be interesting at times and a pain to wade through at others. A good read though for those looking for a scientific evaluation of the effects of TV, movies, and computers, beyond what you may instictively know already! :o)

  22. 5 out of 5

    Inggita

    the author is too single-minded but the value of the book is to remind already exhausted parents that TV shouldn't be trusted as their kids' babysitter. 'course! but if the kids grow up without TV they will be deprived of the knowledge of the pop culture - then how would they stand the chance of winning those TV trivia game shows??

  23. 4 out of 5

    Caitlin

    This book was definitely eye-opening. Of course, I was already wary of too much television, but the author caused me to re-examine my own habits from a different perspective which was eye-opening. Although perhaps the conclusions were not new, many of the explanations and suggestions were helpful and worthwhile.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Staceylayton

    I didn't anticipate much more than a guilt trip out of this book, but her point of view is more realistic than I expected. In fact she's suprisingly insightful. And I like the little chapter she includes about how parents in the decades before TV was invented managed to keep their kids out from under foot for long stretches.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Eric Bell

    Winn argues that the harm in television watching is not in the content, but in the excessive amount of time children spend fixated upon the screen. While the study may be a bit too in-depth for your average reader, it has just enough scientific backing to help a family with a television addiction kick the habit.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Genevieve

    Quite possibly the most terrifying book I've ever read. I did like that she gave some specific, doable guidelines in the end even for those of us that aren't quite ready to literally throw the television out. But I'm definitely trying to make it the exception and not part of the daily routine anymore. I just recognized far too many of the negative patterns in this book.

  27. 5 out of 5

    drublood Duro

    This book served as a good reminder for me that every minute of the day does not have to be filled with background noise. However, I found the research that went into the complete elimination of all forms of visual media to be a bit spotty and difficult to swallow.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Sarah

    Great argument for getting rid of the tv or at least really limiting what the kids are watching. This book changed our view of the television and has really restricted our kids from watching a lot of crap, or a lot of anything really.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Chris

    I think we all too seldom consider the addictive aspects of the passive act of television watching especially regarding its effect on children. I will confess to have skimmed over the last half of the book. Guess I was sold before I read it.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Tracy Lowe

    Interesting. A bit out of date now. Unfortunately, I felt it got a bit too 'preachy' at points. The argument was presented with a huge bias and I felt it could have been toned down a bit as well as presenting more of the other side.

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