TV Is Surrogate Parent, Says Clinton

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Speaking to a content-control forum on Wednesday, Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.) said the country was in the midst of a social experiment of TV as surrogate parent, so it better bone up on the repercussions of that electronic babysitter.

That segued nicely into a plug for her bill, the Children and Media Research Advancement Act, which funds a long-term NIH study of the effects of various media on children. the bill passed out of committee in March and Clinton said she was hoping for a floor vote soon.

The standing-room-only forum explored various content-control strategies, including the V-chip, à la carte cable, and TiVo parental-control functions.

Clinton suggested to the New America Foundation audience that it takes a global media village to help raise a child, or at least that currently there is a social experiment under way of TV as a surrogate parent.

She seemed to take that role now as a given, and said the phenomenon and its effects needed to be studied, while at the same time parents given more help in controlling that constant stream of media into their home.

Clinton said it is hard for parents to find time to supervise TV viewing, and exponentially harder for single parents.

She also said that technology had outpaced our ability to respond to it, which was why it was important to start gauging what the effect of that technology on kids was. Clinton said it was time to get beyond the ideological divide between censorship and free speech to an understanding that everyone has a role.

She said she had drafted a parents' media guide to help with things like understanding the V-Chip or TiVo parental-control functions and was posting it on her Website.

Seconding Clinton on the need for more education and control was Senator Mary Landrieu (D-La.), who said she was encouraged by the education effort being spearheaded by former Motion Picture Association of America President Jack Valenti, but warned the industry that it didn't have a lot of time to work this out.

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