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Studies agree: Bedroom TV is not a good idea for teens

September 25, 2008
Adirondack Daily Enterprise

If you don't have, or expect to have, a teenager in your home, you can be excused from wasting some of your valuable time contemplating the need to read this treatise or to purchase one more television set.

Personally, I would love to discuss your take on the subject, but frankly, since my own teenage brood has long since passed into maturity, please excuse me if I merely report the results of several research studies into the concept that television, especially in the bedroom, may be helping to create some bad teenage habits and detrimental body changes.

If you're still with me, contemplate this: When almost 800 teens were interviewed by Barr-Anderson D, et al, those who had a TV in their bedroom admitted to watching at least five hours a day at a rate of two to one compared to those without, and furthermore, they were found to also tend to have worse eating and study habits.

Okay, we've stated the findings; however, the problem that I have with such findings involves the question: So what can be done about it?

I'm sure that by now most of you reading this have heard about that infernal device known as the "Mosquito." Just in case you might have been unable to understand English as written by reporters from the United Kingdom, I'll take a moment to elucidate. It must have been the brainstorm of some "totally clueless" security techies that came up with the idea of creating an auditory device that emits an ultrasonic sound that can apparently only be heard by teenagers since the aging process gradually creates a condition in adults known as presbycusis.

Starting at about 20 years of age, humans slowly develop an inability to hear sounds at the upper and lower levels of the auditory scale. The idea was to utilize this irritating capability of the Mosquito in order to discourage youths from hanging around stores, shopping malls and private property, or wherever they might create a disturbance.

How shortsighted could these inventors from the UK have been to forget that today's teens are fully capable of turning this capability to their advantage by hijacking it for their own use when trying to avoid detection by their parents while indulging in some of their nefarious schemes involving messaging friends?

Labeling their own recordings of the sound Teen Buzz, enterprising youngsters created a method of spreading it from phone to phone using text messaging and Bluetooth technology.

So, why did I bother to bring up the Mosquito analogy? Suppose we take note of some conclusions derived from this study published in the May 2008 issue of Pediatrics and similar earlier ones:

Excessive TV watching is well documented in teens, and has been associated with negative behavioral and physical outcomes such as weight gain and hypertension.

Those with TV in the bedroom also tend to have worse eating and study habits.

Having a television in the bedroom is a stronger predictor of obesity than the amount of time spent watching it.

Refraining from placing a TV in a teenager's bedroom may be a first step in helping to cut down on usage and assist in controlling resultant associated poor behavior.

I have no particular reason to quibble about the first three conclusions, since they were based on statistical results. I do take issue, however, with the derived conclusion about keeping TV away from the bedroom being of much use. This might very well cut down on TV viewing.

On the other hand, anyone capable of behaving like a well-informed sloth, to my way of thinking, is not likely to be deterred very long from satisfying that sloth-like behavior pattern.

If teens can turn the Mosquito tool for adults into a tool for avoiding adult control, certainly deprivation from access to TV should not faze any enterprising young adolescent armed with today's technological background from turning that deprivation to his or her advantage.

Adult schemes for altering teenage behavior patterns have a distinct way of backfiring. Sulking, pleading, making allusion to peer comparison, threatening and similar approaches to gaining access to their desires are no longer required. Today's adolescent community possesses technological savvy capable of readily overcoming such obstacles. Adults beware - start now to become fully versed in that technology or be prepared to harbor a house filled with scheming sloths.



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