Are Kids Getting Dumber This Summer?

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Summer vacation for many children is already half way over and many families are failing to take advantage of the television set in their home to continue learning while school is out and television viewing by kids is soaring.

One solution is the television set right in the living room

Summer vacation for many children is already half way over and many families are failing to take advantage of one of the greatest opportunities to continue learning while school is out and television viewing by kids is soaring.

"One solution is the television set right in the living room," said Susan Scanlan, Co-Chair of the Smart Television Alliance and President of the Women's Research and Education Institute. "We have four recommendations we want to share with parents: communicate, control, recommend, and share. Applying these four can make TV a learning opportunity this summer, instead of a mindless, unhealthy media diet of too much TV, and negative programming."

According to data from the Consumer Electronics Association (CEA), there are approximately 285 million television sets in use in U.S. households. Without question, this represents an incredible opportunity for learning.

"Children's television viewing during the summer increases upwards of 150 percent*, so it is critical for parents and caregivers to take control of TV by making smart viewing choices and engage with the children in their lives, both while shows are being watched and after the program is over. Today's technology makes it easy to control what and when children watch TV," Scanlan said.

The Smart Television Alliance's (STA) "OutSmart the Summer Spike!" campaign calls on busy parents and caregivers to take control of what is seen on their televisions, using technology such as digital video recorders and Video on Demand or simply going to the local library and borrowing DVDs and VHS tapes recommended by children's media experts.
Scanlan summarized the four key recommendations:

Communicate. Talk to your kids.
Watch television programs with your children and talk to them about what they are seeing. Help them discern the difference between television and reality, find out what might confuse them, and what they have learned from the program.

Take Control of your TV.
While, television is frequently used as a surrogate babysitter, it can also be a powerful tool to educate, entertain and inspire as part of a balanced and healthy media diet.

The choice is simple: use it, don't let it use you! Take control of your television with technology from digital video recorders like TiVo DVRs to Video on Demand, or simply go to the local library and borrow DVDs and VHS tapes.

Get Recommendations.
Nonprofit children's media experts like KIDS FIRST!, Common Sense Media, and the Parents' Choice Foundation are in the business of evaluating quality content. We have pulled them all together on STA's website. Visit Smart Television Alliance Recommendations Section
to find programs recommended by these organizations and others and make choices that are right for your family. Sign up for the Smart Television Alliance Newsletter to receive our daily recommended tips for enhanced learning with summer time viewing.

Share. Spread the Word.
Don't just talk to your kids. Ask your friends and neighbors what programs they let their kids watch, and whether they are controlling their TVs. The 285 million TVs in America are all opportunities for continued learning -- or for kids to view violent, sexual or otherwise inappropriate programming. You may control TV in your home, but what are your children watching next door or at daycare or camp? The STA provides information and resources for parents, teachers, and caregivers alike. Visit our site and get involved.

  • According to analysis of Nielsen audience measurement data

About the Go to the Smart Television Alliance Web Site (STA):
The Smart Television Alliance is a new coalition of national nonprofit organizations united by a shared commitment to improving what our nation's children watch on television. Our mission is to help parents and caregivers use technology, online tools, and program recommendations from trusted children's media experts to make smart television viewing choices. By promoting the viewing of educational and informational programming, STA will build a market for more high quality children's TV shows.

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Christopher Turman
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