By: Rochelle Beckstine
The Jackson Herald
April 7, 2004
TV: A dirty word?
Every hour preschoolers watch television each day boosts their chancesby about 10 percentof developing attention deficit problems later in life, reported Lindsey Tanner, an Associated Press medical writer on Monday in her article, TV Linked to Kids Attention Problems.
Its a good attention-grabbing lead to her story. She follows it up with [the study] suggested that TV might overstimulate and permanently rewire the developing brain, butno worriesalthough the brain changes are permanent, children with these problems can be taught to compensate.
All a bunch of very scary predictions for parents already pounded by the findings of so many studies that we question whether up is up and down is down.
The study Tanner cites, which was published in this months edition of Pediatrics, interviewed parents of 1 and 3-year-old children on television viewing habits and then followed up when the child was 7 with questions about attention span. They found that children who watched more TV at age one and age three were more likely to be labeled by their parents as having difficulty concentrating, acting restless or impulsive and being easily confused.
Lead researcher Dr. Dimitri Christakis admits that the researchers have no idea what kind of shows the children in the study were watching, but he feels it does not matter. And that is where the studys faults begin. It has no information on whether any of the children were actually labeled as having ADHD or ADD, only the parents perception of their seven-year-old children. And there is no evidence this is a cause and effect relationship; it is very possible that television viewing can be a product of having an attention deficit disorder, not the other way around. But the researchers dont address this.
At a National Literacy Trust conference March 15, 2004, research with far less flaws was presented by Dr. Robin Close arguing that age-appropriate educational programs benefit children between the ages of 2 and 5.
She found evidence that attention and comprehension, responsive vocabulary, some expressive language, letter-sound knowledge and knowledge of narrative and storytelling all benefit from educational programs. To be of the most benefit, the programs should have a balance of new and familiar words, interesting material for adults to encourage them to watch with their child and formats that allow for interaction and participation through songs and questions. By watching a particular episode repeatedly (on the VCR), the same researchers found that children can learn valuable skills and parents can encourage the learning by explaining any words which are new. But shes not in favor of all kinds of television. Close reports that children between the ages of 2 and 5 who watched programming aimed at a general or adult audience had a lower vocabulary and poor expressive language. She found that older siblings are a prime reason children are not watching age-appropriate television shows. Close concluded by recommended parents ensure children are watching age-appropriate shows and that they keep television viewing at a minimum for all children as no one really knows how much TV is too much.
TV is a trend that will be addressed time and again by researchers. Widespread television viewing is fairly new and so the field is open for anyone with a Ph.D. to publish a report. As an educated parent, I am not quite ready to disassemble my TV. Studies can be alarming especially when researchers make broad generalizations and bold statements. But some value can be taken from Closes research. I think that limiting preschoolers to age appropriate programs just makes good sense. So does encouraging children to do things other than watch TV, after all there is a great big world out there children need to explore, too.
Rochelle Beckstine is a columnist for MainStreet Newspapers.
By: Jana Mitcham
The Commerce News
April 7, 2004
Taking the scenic sights for granted?
In the midst of clutter, congestion and traffic elsewhere, my husband and I feel increasingly grateful and fortunate to come home to the Adams family homeplace in what is still the country of Madison County.
But having grown up in Jackson County, and still at work there, I note the changes all around me every day. The new subdivisions, the new businesses, the new roads and graded off areas for more new development.
The county has changed drastically in my lifetime. (As an example, my sister was telling me recently about someone asking her why she gave directions that included the second paved road. Yes, there were many dirt roads in the county one of which we grew up on and really not that long ago in the grand scheme of things.)
Yes, I think about these changes and, Ill admit, I feel a certain sense of dread and apprehension as I look around and hope that we arent completely consumed in a flow of asphalt in years to come.
I recently attended a meeting the Rural Development Commission held in Jefferson to discuss future bike and pedestrian pathways in the region, including Jackson County.
During the course of the meeting, a regular attendant at area planning meetings suggested that there should be some consideration of preserving some scenic highways and byways like Hwy. 15 between Commerce and Jefferson, for instance.
Oh, I thought, I come that way to work every day, after following Hwy. 98 from Madison County into Commerce.
Yes, it is a scenic route.
And oh, I thought, with a jolt of unpleasant realization, it might not always be that way.
While I do enjoy the sights along the way to work in the morings and the lack of heavy traffic in the evenings (not to mention the beautiful scenery along Erastus Church Road and Hwy. 334 on my non-work excursions to Athens), I wonder if Ive been taking for granted that those scenic routes will always be that way. I do cringe when I see a For Sale sign now in what has been rolling pastureland. Oh, no. A subdivision.
I think about Hwy. 124 from Jefferson to Braselton and how, just a few short years ago, it used to be a nice, rural drive with houses dotted here and there just look at it now. Subdivision city.
Do we realize how fortunate we are to have some scenic areas left? Do we know how to keep some of them scenic and relatively clutter-free?
Ill admit, there are some mornings when the look-around drivers (look to the left, look to the right, loooook back to the left.....slow, slow, weave, weave) make me crazy and late for work, but Ill take that any day over congestion and clutter and more and more asphalt and more and more subdivisions.
So, yes, Ill slow down, too, and look around, too. And the sights are nice.
Of course, I do take advantage of the amenities now closer to home than in past days the restaurants, the Home Depot for flowers and plants, the stores and I know that economic development is key to continued services, but I hope that such development can be contained, rather than sprawling out and out and out, as has happened in other counties, with duplicated services and stores just down the road from one another.
The county and municipalities do have future land use plans that are supposed to contain different versions of growth in different areas, and I know its unrealistic to think that the sprawl of homes wont only continue.
At the meetings I attend on planning and development issues, where subdivision after subdivision is proposed and developer after developer speaks, I feel a great deal of sympathy for the long-timers who are being crowded in and edged out by new growth. (If I am completely honest, I do feel sympathy, but less of it, since they sort of started the wave, for the transplants who say, We moved here to get away from growth and development. Its not really their fault, of course, as the wave of growth is inevitable, but, still....)
Yes, I do feel apprehension at what lies ahead.
Enjoy it, people say when they hear we live in the country. Itll get you next.
Now, having said all of that, I do have to applaud the people who are making an effort not to block the wave of inevitable growth washing over Jackson County in a flow of asphalt and bricks, of course but to at least somewhat direct the flow and temper it a little.
The Quad Cities Planning Commission, for instance, has been meeting for months to develop a veritable book of consistent codes for its four cities. In the midst of various growth and development issues, that groups has also been looking at tree replacement requirements and limitations on parking lots (what a sad, wasteful sight is a giant, empty parking lot in front of a giant, empty store, shut down so a bigger and better version could be built two miles down the road).
Its still massive development on the way, to be sure and who said that is all good, except maybe those who stand to make a lot of money and then head back to their home somewhere else? Just as the saying goes that the good old days werent always so good as those waxing nostalgic would like to think (myself included, I guess), so the opposite is surely true that future progress isnt always what its cracked up to be in the long run.
But at least there will be some trees still standing.
And possibly some bike trails and some greenways and maybe even a few of those scenic byways weve taken for granted in the past.
Jana Adams Mitcham is features editor of The Jackson Herald.