A photographer named Wolfram Hahn created a photo series of children watching television.
The children depicted in this series are between three and twelve. Their regards are sad, with facial expressions rather to be associated with adults, unusual for children this age. They regard a spot below the camera; focusing on something in that space not revealed to the viewer. As such they seem lifeless like dolls, or bodies bereft of their spirits.
The photos hit me because I have a four-year-old brother who watches at least three hours of television a day. It’s usually educational programs on PBS or Noggin, but regardless of their value they still co-opt his imagination and train him to take cues from marketers. When he enters a supermarket, he asks for specific brands that are advertised on television and knows exactly where to get them.
A lot of us in our late 20’s are caught up in this multi-task / short-attention span culture, but at least we were spared the most harmful effects of television growing up. All I had to look forward as a kid was Saturday morning cartoons, but these days there are several channels that offer video crack to kids using the latest advances in psychology and brainwashing. I’m afraid that my brother’s brain will be wired differently than mine, and since I’m not his parent there is not much I can do about it.