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Television time could be damaging infants

There is a mounting concern that the viewing of television may have an injurious effect on the brains of infants and young children. At birth the infant has just begun the stage of development where the eyes soon begin seeing views that are transmitted to the brain (the human computer). Visual stress can result in brain damage, much the same as other stressors such as poor nutrition, drugs, chemicals, abuse and trauma.

Cultural changes over the past 40 to 50 years have significantly changed the environment for children. Working mothers and single parents hand the nurturing, or varying amounts of it, over to daycare centers and baby sitters. It has been the common practice to innocently use the television as an entertainment tool.

The complexity of the eyes transmitting views into an infant or young person's brain is extremely complex and should not be entrusted to advertisers and television producers. The brain of an infant begins development early on in the womb, and at 9 months, still has several years to go before becoming fully developed. The learning process should be methodical and cognizant of the level of physical development. The forcing of visual information into a brain prior to its physical development could be harmful to the brain and may have far reaching effects on other motor skills. That little brain is commencing a monumental task of sending electrical impulses out to hundreds of muscles that control hundreds of body functions. Extreme caution should be used throughout the early years of life to feed the brain no more information than it, can properly store and not disrupting the brains development.

Content is not the only concern. Modern technology has exacerbated this concern with its changes in method of delivery. Everything is presented faster, with zooming, panning and fading nearly a thing of the past. Views are changed instantly. Topics are changed at breakneck paces that a tiny, developing brain cannot process.

Other troubling issues may be the instant change in brightness, defying the eye muscles that attempt to control the amount of light allowed into the eye. The instant changes in distance may also affect depth perception development.

Our society is now witnessing an increasing amount of unexplainable social behavior among the young such as attention deficit disorder, hyperactivity, autism and aggressive behaviors.

With scientific studies next to impossible and painstakingly long, this concern gets danced around and this very damaging practice continues, increasing the demand for mental health care and institutions where treatments are seldom very effective.

While the debate rages over the cause of this current epidemic, no certainty has been determined. Tube nurtured infant syndrome can be added to the list, even though the television industry may object.

The Surgeon General places warnings on cigarette packages. The same type of warning should be placed on every television sold and this alert should be posted in all obstetric and pediatric facilities.

This hypothesis has been developed from a collection of empirical information and the use of common sense. Lacking the substantiation of the scientific community, I am still convinced that most new mothers would not take the risk that this information is flawed.

Richard H. Crampton is a Gresham resident.