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Teens: Under the Influence of TV

Research shows that TV and video games are hazardous to our kids' health. You can protect them by learning the right ways to monitor what and how much they're watching.
Restrict or Not to Restrict?
Under the Influence
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Aaeon McConomy

My wife and I have always been careful about what our kids see on TV, and that includes video games. So we were none too pleased last year when our son, then 15, begged us to buy him Resident Evil 4. Knowing we'd object to the M-rated (age 17 and older) zombie shoot-'em-up, he plied us with every argument in the book: "Most kids my age already play it." "The game's not going to turn me into a violent person." And the clincher: "You've said I'm old enough to make my own decisions, and I wish you would live up to that." He had a point. Though we had our doubts, we granted his wish.

It's a compromise familiar to any parent of a tween or teen. As kids get older, even the most cautious moms and dads begin to ask themselves how much they really need to worry about the harmful effects of television. Three out of four parents say they're concerned, yet few actually restrict viewing -- and when they do, it's usually to make sure kids do their homework and chores before plopping down in front of the tube. In a survey of more than 2,000 children between ages 8 and 18 by the Kaiser Family Foundation, only 13 percent said their parents imposed limits on which shows they could watch; even fewer had rules about video games.