From the Detroit News 11/7/99
Women and Cars: Drive time offers kids talk time
In-vehicle entertainment systems create antisocial behavior for parents and children, therapists say.
By Ann Jobs
**Q. My sister just got a minivan with a video and game-playing station in it. She has it on all the time! I say that’s wrong and I hate to think how it will affect my two nephews. What do you say? **
A. Several communication and child development experts that we checked with here at the Women’s Auto Help Center agree with you. They warn parents about the dangers of media saturation and recommend moderation in the use of such entertainment systems. A couple even urged parents to avoid these in-vehicle systems altogether.
While children are engaged in movies and video games, “they’re not relating to people,” said Michael Gurian, a family therapist and author in Spokane, Wash. “We’re cutting off their social and moral development.”
He sees in-vehicle entertainment centers as unnecessary and says they could creating more
tension within a family. The devices cut children off from nature as they focus solely on the screen inside the vehicle rather than the scenery outside)."
In his book, The Good Son: Shaping the Moral Development of Our Boys & Young Men
(Tarcher/Putnam), Gurian encourages parents to set limits on time spent in front of TV, movies and on video games – in and out of vehicles.
Joanne Cantor, mother of a 10-year-old boy and professor of communication arts at the
University of Wisconsin, said she would resist buying a van with an entertainment center. Author of Mommy, I’m Scared: How TV and Movies Frighten Children and What We Can
Do to Protect Them (Harcourt Brace), Cantor said she doesn’t want to condemn parents who
use a vehicle entertainment center to keep kids busy. But she’s concerned that high media exposure can “develop your child into a constant consumer.”
She said car-shopping parents should realize that if the entertainment center is inside the van, “there’s going to be a tendency to use it all the time. There’s going to be this pressure to use it maybe more than you want to.”
Mark Singer, professor of social work at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, was blunt: “Parents should not be using a television set as a baby-sitter. There are a whole number of ways that children can be entertained (while traveling).” But Ellen Galinsky, a mother of two grown children and president of the Families and Work
Institute and author, said she could see how keeping children occupied in the car could
contribute to safer driving.
“I didn’t want (my children) to be fighting while I drove,” said Galinsky, author of Ask the Children: What America’s Children Really Think About Working Parents, (William Morrow).
On the other hand, she said car time can be very important, particularly to older children with whom parents often struggle to relate.
“You’re not staring at each other, yet you’re trapped in this capsule,” she said. “Parents need to develop their conversation skills with their children. I would hate for parents to miss an opportunity to talk with their children in the car.”
(Emphasis mine) I think it ironic that the autor of this book, Asking Children, would say this. Of course the kids want a tv/vcr/videos in back.What kid wouldn’t. This is where the parent steps in and decides what is best in the long run and short run for the developement of their child. The cite of highway safety is silly and she is justifying her own inability to control her children through games, conversation and interaction. If you asked a kid every night what they wanted for dinner, they’d probably say candy, pop and pizza. I suppose she’d give them that too.