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view from the top : Numerous trails of Mount Naomi lead through some of the most spectacular alpine scenery found in the intermountain west./ Photo by Melissa Kamis
Today's word on journalism

Tuesday, September 7, 2004

"The First Amendment gives everyone -- including nuts -- free speech,
but free speech has a purpose: that the people may judge for themselves
and bury the nuts with indignation. We fail our founding fathers if we
let blowhards rage on talk radio, in little magazines and in nasty
books without delivering counterattacks.

   -- Barron's, Aug. 9, 2004 (Thanks to alert WORDster John Mollwitz)

TV will change your child's life, says Richmond librarian -- and not for the better

By Seth Quillen


March 30, 2004 | RICHMOND -- What would you do with an extra 30 hours per week? Maybe learn a foreign language, practice an instrument, play a sport or even bake a cake. Well you got it, Linda Bettinger has the answer, and it's as simple as turning off the TV.

Bettinger, who gave a talk Thursday night called "Is your TV out of control?" as part of the Richmond Library lecture series, says if you sit down and calculate the amount of hours spent in front of the boob tube per week you'd be pretty amazed.

Bettinger believes that television has a strong effect on us, especially children. She first started taking interest in the subject in 1984 when she was teaching first grade in Massachusetts. The first Karate Kid movie had just been released and she noticed that within the first week in theaters the kids' play had completely changed from their regular games to fighting and kicking games. She had no idea about the theory of media literacy at the time but just started noticing things.

Movies and TV are not the only thing getting into the heads of our children, Bettinger says. There are so many violent games out there right now and "you have to wonder if it's healthy for kids to be blowing heads off all day long."

She said the current top three video games right now are all strongly geared toward violence and sexuality.

Bettinger, who teaches media literacy to children at Greenville Elementary, is "not telling you to stop watching television or playing videogames, but the solution is in awareness and critical thinking." We have to know what they are playing, we need to sit down and play the games with them.

There has to be more dialogue, it's important to teach critical thinking because your kids are going to see all these things, whether you want them to or not, that will definitely influence their behavior if not discussed.

In her lectures with kids at the elementary school she teaches them to think about both the shows they watch and the advertising. Does this product do what it says it's going to do, what kinds of tricks are they using to make it seem more fun than it is?

"Commercials are very well done they spend millions on them, they're works of art,"said Bettinger. "And we have to be careful what messages they are sending to the kids."

Once the kids study the products and commercials they learn the tricky nature of the industry and are better prepared to defend themselves against their tricks and flashy ads.

And as for the Janet Jackson-Justin Timberlake fiasco, "I think it's good because it's got people talking about the issues, what should be seen and what shouldn't be seen. So many things have just been going unnoticed and for so long now," said Bettinger.

Bettinger remembers when she went to see Gone With the Wind in the theater and hearing the famous line, "Frankly my dear, I don't give a damn." She said the whole theater gasped.

"Parents are all bent out of shape over Janet [Jackson] baring her breast and the Super Bowl, but parents need to pay more attention to the MTV their children are watching, which is way worse," she said. "This is where they are learning about relationships."


Copyright 1997-2004 Utah State University Department of Journalism & Communication, Logan UT 84322, (435) 797-1000
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