J. M. Coetzee says children shun books for TV


smh.com.au Has An Article on a a rare interview broadcast on Swedish SVT public service television on Friday with Novelist J. M. Coetzee, winner of this year's Nobel Literature Prize.
Coetzee believes television has replaced books as a source of imagination for many children.
"I did have a sense that there was a certain devotion to the book in the family.

"A lot of children go through a phase of reading in a literally voracious way. It is their primary imaginative activity. Maybe that's an experience which is not so common any more with the presence of television in every home," he said.


Coatzee said, "I did have a sense that there was a certain devotion to the book in the family."

This is an argument I don't buy. I believe that TV might be robbing kids of other activity, but not necessarily reading. I grew up in a blue collar neighborhood where books were viewed with suspicion. In the pre-cable days, we only had three channels. While I was the oddball kid who did fill her spare time with books, magazines, dictionaries and anything with print on it, most of the other kids were busy running around the neighborhood, riding bikes, smoking in the woods and playing whiffleball.

I get really annoyed by arguments about how reading is not valued like it used to be. I would contend that it's never been widely valued except as an unpracticed ideal.

Television actually can be a useful tool, and not just in the area of educational viewing such as TLC or the Discovery Channel. Television has got so much really bad stuff on it that it makes an excellent training tool for those who wish to develop critical thinking skills. Just turn it on, select a channel, and ask yourself: what is wrong with what I'm seeing? You'll get the knack of it in no time.

I never really buy the argument that TV is ok because of "educational" things like TLC. First of all, if a kid gets the same educational information from a book, they aren't getting advertised to as well - never forget that TV depends on advertising. I'm not sure I see much of a benefit from 20 minutes of education broken up by 10 of advertising. Secondly, most so-called educational channels are very dumbed-down. The last time I watched an animal show on Discovery, I gave up on it quickly because they were more concerned with flashy graphics and impressive ways to change between scenes than they were with solid information.

I feel the same way, maybe cause I am older, and remember what it was like when there was (literally) nothing on tv.
I get impatient with the quick scene changes and funky static, as in Bill Nye, the Science Guy. Granted, it is aimed at media-numbed kids, not me.
My kids are voracious readers, but most of them will turn into tv zombies at the lift of a remote.
I have to set firm limits on their tv/computer time.

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