Tuesday, 13 October 2009

Roger Scruton: TV will never poison my children’s minds

To my amazement the Australian Government has come out against television. Admittedly its report is confined to the effect on small children, and takes the form of undemanding guidelines: the report says that no child under the age of 2 should be allowed to watch telly.

But no section of the population is more addicted to the telly than politicians, who vie with each other for a place on the screen, and I have despaired of hearing the truth about this ubiquitous poison from someone with the power to control it. Governments that take a stand against television are as unlikely as distillers who oppose the use of alcohol or dairy farmers who campaign against milk.

It has been known for 20 or more years that television induces mental disorders, such as enhanced aggression, shortened attention span and reduced ability to communicate, and that these disorders involve an even greater social cost than the obesity and lethargy that are TV’s normal physical side-effects. Research by the psychologists Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi and Robert Kubey has shown that television is also addictive, setting up pathways to pleasure that demand constant reinforcement. As a threat to the nation’s health, it stands far higher than alcohol, drugs or tobacco, and the worry is that it may be too late to do anything about it, since the addiction is all but universal. Read more
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