The American Academy of Pediatrics frowns upon excessive television viewing by children. They discourage television viewing for children younger than 2 and recommend limiting children’s television time to only 1 to 2 hours of quality programming per day. The AAP has stated:
Although there are potential benefits from viewing some television shows, such as the promotion of positive aspects of social behavior (eg, sharing, manners, and cooperation), many negative health effects also can result.
I had always disagreed with the AAP’s stance on children and television. My kids watched plenty of television and they were smart, happy, well-adjusted children. Television viewing resulting in negative health effects? That’s just crazy talk! Ha, ha, ha, ha – that was me laughing at the AAP’s television viewing recommendations. But it turns out the AAP was right and I was wrong. Television can be harmful – I have witnessed firsthand one of the negative health effects the AAP warned us about. It’s a negative health effect known as AsSeenOnTVitis and…*sob*… my 3-year-old son suffers from it.
I never believed it could happen to our family, to my son. I never thought my son could have a problem. He watched educational shows on PBS and Nickelodeon, quality programming favored by the AAP. Commercials? Oh, he didn’t like commercials, he loathed them. He loved his shows so much that he would get angry when commercials were on. Commercials were a disruption, an annoyance. My son didn’t pay attention to commercials. At least that’s what I thought. The signs were there, but I didn’t see them. Was I oblivious? Was I in denial? I’m not sure, but somehow I missed the subtle warning signs of AsSeenOnTVitis.
It started out just like any other ordinary day. My son was watching some quality educational programming on television and I was using television as a babysitter closely monitoring my son’s television viewing:
J: We need that! (pointing to the television)
I glanced up at the television – it was a commercial for Aqua Globes. Aqua Globes, the easy-to-use watering bulbs. Aqua Globes, the solution for automatic plant watering. My son wanted me to buy Aqua Globes. I chuckled at his request but assured him that we didn’t need Aqua Globes because (1) we only have 2 plants and (2) I am quite capable of watering my plants without any fancy schmancy automatic watering system. Even if it is only $14.99.
My son’s sudden interest in Aqua Globes was odd but kind of cute, so I wasn’t overly concerned. I figured it was an isolated event, a one time occurrence. But the following week he told me I needed to buy a Chia Pet. Then it was Bendaroos. Now I was getting concerned. As soon as he heard the cheesy voiceover of one of those As Seen On TV commercials, he would instantly stop whatever he was doing and stare intently at the television. He was fascinated by these commercials. Completely mesmerized. He was convinced our household wouldn’t be complete unless we bought a Perfect Brownie Pan, Bendaroos, Moon Sand, a Topsy Turvy, Wonder Hangers, a Bumpit…the list went on and on. If he saw it on TV, he wanted it. All the signs of AsSeenOnTVitis were there, but I still couldn’t accept it. AsSeenOnTVitis? No, not my son! But it hard to deny it after this conversation:
Me: What are you getting me for my birthday?
J: A Big Top Cupcake
Me: What are you getting Daddy for his birthday?
J: A Touch n Brush
Me: What are you getting your brother for his birthday?
J: A Snuggie
Sigh, I can no longer deny it. My 3-year-old son has AsSeenOnTVitis.
How could this happen to my son? How did he contract AsSeenOnTVitis? Is it because I didn’t breastfeed him? Is it because I had him vaccinated? Why was my son obsessed with crappy products advertised on TV and what could I do about it? Well, I could do nothing and enjoy the Big Top Cupcake he’s getting me for my birthday next month. But if I do nothing, how far will his addiction go? Will he steal my credit card so he can purchase a ShamWow? Will we have to send him to see addiction specialist Dr. Drew Pinsky and will he be cast in Dr. Pinsky’s new VH1 reality show As Seen On TV Rehab? No, I couldn’t stand by and do nothing – this was my son and I had to rid him of this terrible ailment. So I racked my brain trying to come up with a cure for AsSeenOnTVitis. After many sleepless nights, I realized that the answer was simple – a DVR! A DVR can eliminate commercials. A DVR can cure my son. A DVR can put an end to AsSeenOnTVitis! We need to lobby the American Academy of Pediatrics, our cable companies, and our congressmen to recommend and provide DVRs to every household. I say one child, one DVR. Let’s all work together to eradicate AsSeenOnTVitis once and for all. I can’t bear to have another child suffer from AsSeenOnTVitis like my son has. Please, don’t let AsSeenOnTVitis happen to you.