A Disenchanted Playroom

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.

You can see the photos at his web site. An article was written about it in Art In America.

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.

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Anonymous
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Arjewtino
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I recently found a photo of me as a 6-year-old watching TV and it scared me how unhealthily engrossed I was by the screen.

This is an important and revealing art form that should have been explored earlier.

Arjewtino’s last blog post: I waited 28 years to go back to Portland.

Anonymous
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As a mother of a 4 year old, there are two comments I have: 1. these images are as manipulated as the show’s they’re complaining about. Clearly the TV is placed lower than the kids so their eyes gaze down, sad. And secondly they edited the many pictures they took of each child to choose the ones that proved their point. I’d also add that these pictures look like they were in a studio which might have been frightening to the child as well – all adding to the effect. My child watches limited TV and has many moments of laughs and smiles and engagement – these kids may have too, depending on what images they were showing them when they snapped these photos. Secondly, TV can serve an important purpose in everyone’s lives – especially educational TV. It can allow a parent a much needed break (which means they can be a better parent after a 30 minute show) and let’s a child relax. As long as TV is limited and not used in place of social contact, there are plenty of studies that show TV can be beneficial. Trust me, I’ve researched this a plenty.

Hope
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I learned English from watching TV, but as soon as I got a computer (when I was 12) I turned it off and dove straight into the more interactive medium. TV is not all-evil, but it does have a lot of problems just like most mainstream information outlets.

Being in the design field, I understand keenly how things are deliberately made to appeal to human psychology, and I try to keep it away from myself so I don’t become another mindless consumer. I don’t buy anything expensive, and I try not to buy anything at all aside from food/basic toiletries.

Kids are very easily swayed by the messages of “want” and “buy this!” I was somewhat like that when I was younger, but my mom always kept a tight check on it. Really, the problem also lies with parents being too lenient with their children and letting them have anything they want, and buying on credit.

The Internet is next on the advertising frontier. Google, by the way, is by far the most successful ad agency online right now.

T.
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For me growing up, 3 hours of TV would have been a light day. TV was basically my babysitter.

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Bobby Rio
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I think we were all equally fucked… now were getting mind fucked by the internet

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Andrew
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I have to disagree with you on one thing: there IS something you can do. Be an active, engaging brother and get him away from TV by showing him that life is a lot more interesting!

Seduction Chronicles
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I think everyone my age pretty much has ADD to a certain degree.

Seduction Chronicles’s last blog post: Who Else Is Sick?.

Nomadz
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Interesting post.
Made me think of an artist whose works i saw a few years ago (i forgot his name, unfortunately). He shot short videos of people dancing alone in a nightclub, then edited the video to suppress sound, lights and surrounding people. The result was almost scary : you could see only one lonely guy or girl, with a grim expression, convulsing in weird moves as if he had epilepsy… This is not “manipulation”, as someone said, but de-contextualization, which is always a good way to modify your perspective on things by reducing them to their most basic expression.
About the people “dancing” in the nightclub, it kind of confirmed what i already thought : to go dancing in clubs, you have to be either 1)Chasing a one night-stand ; or 2)Completely brain-dead.
At least there was some kind of action.
TV is worst. You could as well be in a vegetative state, and the tiny pictures on screen would still make their way to some place in the back of your brain.
Thanks God i don’t have a TV.

Anonymous
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Don’t worry about your four year old brother. He’s getting his head wired differently, but he’ll also come to life with different skillsets. He’ll probably know more about server side apps, Struts, PHP, ORB’s and C# than you will. He might even be able to take apart your cell phone (probably cell earpiece by then) and hot wire it to another network. TV is just an entry point. Growing up in a data intensive world, he’ll learn to process information faster than you.

Nomadz
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TV alone doesn’t teach children to process information, only to accept / believe.

shadi
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i agree with andrew. roosh, as his older brother, you can step in and give your parents your views and suggestions on peeling him off the tv. i do that with my siblings all the time, and they take my advice seriously since i’m closer in age gap then they are w/their kids.

tho i’m not sure what kind of healthy example you’re setting with your own basement-dwelling, reclusive lifestyle :).

shadi’s last blog post: Are you serious?.

yourecoolsometimes
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the photographer is definitely cool… love the pics… and you expressing your concern about your brother, cute… but… you know, senseless… fuck, if you really care, do something about it, take the thing out of the house and show him some action… uh oh, you’re concerned… doesn’t that sound cool… not your job, of course, to offer options to some kid that’s not even yours, but really, it’s there for you to take action… oh, you’re too busy, the world is demanding, blah blah… stop fucking bullshitting and take the kid out, one hour a day, between your morning jerk-off and the afternoon starbucks session. (been there done that it counts) cheers.

Dirk Diggler
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This breaks my heart.