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Early Television Exposure a Possible Factor in Attention Deficit Disorder

(Editors note: To our knowledge there has not been a study linking ADHD to the television. However, even if the "BOOB TUBE" is not the actual cause, it may very well exacerbate the problem. The good doctor's language may be strong...but the idea of TV. being a factor warrants a closer look.)

Two or three times a week I see children in my office whose parents - sometimes reluctantly - request Ritalin (methamphenimate) prescription so their ADD child will perform better in school. I used to think the Attention Deficit Disorder child was a creature, like the Learning Disabled child, invented for the purpose of explaining away some abysmal failure of education in our modern homes and schools. However, while many ADD-labeled children are just fidgety kids whose subconscious minds work overtime to unplug them from the sometimes "daymare" of classroom curricula, there is, I have come to appreciate, a real syndrome here, and the cause of this devastating problem is intensive exposure to television at a very early age.

Let me build my case by digressing, it may seem, to a true story of my youth. When I was in 8th grade, my mother suggested a replication of long-known research for my Science Project; an experiment in "imprinting." Baby chicks were hatched in the presence of an object, a six-inch model of a circus clown, who rotated endlessly on his pedestal as long as he was plugged in. The chicks lived with this curio for only three days or so. Eight weeks later, the chicks were released in our yard along with a full grown hen and the clown - plugged in and rotating with his happy, painted smile. Without hesitation, the chicks gathered about the clown chirping away. The hen, their real mother, might have been on Mars for all the attention they paid to her. The idea of imprinting as applied to human babies hit me with full force one day as I was in the office with and eight-year-old boy and his mother. As the child's eyes swept the room they would pass eerily by me as though I wasn't there, despite my best efforts to engage his attention. As a family physician, and a father of six, I pride myself in my ability to relate to children. But neither I not others can engage ADD kids: they are always looking for their "clown," the TV set.

Those of you who know ADD children, may realize that the characteristic diversion of their gaze every few seconds or so bears an unmistakable resemblance in pattern and timing to the pattern of camera\scene changes on an ordinary television program.

It is obvious to me that virtually all variants of ADD, including antisocial behavior, victimization of other children as if they were inanimate objects, and "hyperactivity," can be laid at the door -in whole or in part- of the "Universal Mind," television. Monkey see, monkey do, after all.

Reprinted from Moore Report International, Box 1 Camas, WA 98607 (360) 835-2736