The first time I read that Barack Obama had said that parents should “turn off the TV set and put away the video games“, I just cringed. Of course I agree with the sentiment, but it seemed to me that saying such a thing out loud, by a politician, would be political suicide.
Looks like I was wrong. Obama has returned again and again to his theme of parents turning off the TV and putting away the video games. All, without any real political damage.
Why would that be?
I think the real sea change has been the obesity epidemic. Before this epidemic (as a national problem, instead of just an individual problem) hit the public consciousness, concerns about kids glued to the screen could be dismissed as exaggerated. Not anymore.
Concerns about low school achievement in the States (especially as compared internationally) have been with us for quite a while. And almost exclusively it has been the schools and teachers that have been blamed. But as the United States loses its ability to compete internationally, and especially after this huge financial crisis, Americans are starting to think that perhaps more also has to be done by parents and by society in general (for example subsidized after-school programs and summer programs like the “Boys and Girls Club”).
Anyway, here is a 2005 speech where Obama discusses in greater detail his position on TV and video games and their effects on children.
Update: see also A Change to Less TV