If our toddlers had been outside playing in the 'fresh air', speaking words precociously or giggling with delight at something 'real', we would have happily celebrated this behaviour. But we weren't about to admit that our children were excited about television. Being happy about our children watching the 'idiot box' was not something we could admit to.
Troubled by what her daughter was watching, and by how this made her feel as a parent, Emily Booker set out to learn more about children and television: listening not only to scholars and experts in the field, but to children themselves. What she found was that the 'problem' of children's addiction to screens is actually, in part, a grown-ups' problem. Speaking to children about what they watch and why reveals a steadily consistent response: they love to seek out programs that are 'fun'. But their choices are often a source of anxiety for parents, and appear to provoke a need to censure and control the child's enjoyment. At a time when children's lives are increasingly regulated, and the pressures of parenting are felt ever more keenly, this important book teaches us much about the value of entertainment, not only for children but for adults.
If you've ever suffered from a throbbing guilt-gland when your kids are glued to the screen - here's your antidote. - Kathy Lette Ground-breaking research into the importance of screen time, and fun, for our over-regulated children. A compelling book. - Catharine Lumby