I was reading an article the other day in which a pediatrician announced that television is endangering millions of children throughout the world.
Apparently, test have shown that children’s brain cells can be permanently impaired if they are exposed to TV at an early age.
Believe it or not, experts issued similar warnings when I was a child. Not that we had television back then, of course, a lack which elicits cries of consternation from my children whenever I admit it in ill-advised moments of confidentiality. Apparently, a childhood bereft of the Ed Sullivan Show is a past less than perfect.
Nevertheless, my childhood was not hazard-free. We may not have had television, but we certainly had radio, to which we were allowed to listen no more than an hour a day after some medical expert convinced my mother that radio waves would damage her children’s sensitive eardrums.
Actually, parental prohibitons against innocent childhood pastimes have existed throughout history. My parents were told that watching silent movies in a darkened theatre would ruin their eyesight. Their parents were warned that raucous band concerts would give them migraines.
In Salem, children were discouraged from watching witches being burned at the stake because the heat from the fire might cause a skin rash.
In Elizabethan England, I’m told, mothers were warned against allowing their children to attend beheadings because of the danger of blood spatter getting into their little eyes and ears.
And many a Roman matron pleaded with her son not to sit in the Coliseum all day watching lions eat Christians, after Hippocates published a paper on the dangers of sitting for long periods on cold stone slabs in nothing but a toga.
As you can see, things haven’t changed much in the past 2,000 years, and there’s nothing to indicate that they’re going to change much more in the future.
You can be pretty sure that no matter what spectator sport is pursued by children in the years to come, there will always be someone with a medical degree ready and willing to pop out of nowhere and tell every parent in town how much damage it’s going to do their precious offspring in the future.