I have the most wonderful 12 year old step son, but at his mom's house the TV is on all the time and he and his brother can play video games all they please. I just asked him if he had any major homework projects over the holiday break, and he said he had a science project. He is a bright kid, but he has very few hobbies or interests and given the chance he will always take the easier route. So when he told me that he designed a project where six of his friends are taste-testing five different types of chewing gum to see which one has the longest lasting flavor, I was kind of impressed. He said he thought that Strident was going to win, which would be cool because their commercial says that their flavor lasts the longest.
And then it dawned on me... where is the science in his project? So I asked him. And he said, "well, I'm testing the scientific theory. My theory is that Strident will last the longest." Me: "Based on what? The commercial?" Him: "Well, yeah. I'm testing a theory." So I explain to him that there are lots of types of theories -- political theory, marketing theory, etc., and that he wasn't actually observing something scientific and drawing a conclusion, rather, he was testing a marketing claim. In the end we decided he could look at the ingredients and nutrition panel and try to create a theory based on what information was there. Kind of lame, but I'm just the step-mom. I don't have the authority to make him do a new project. Meanwhile, is this not just a great story (except that it is my step-son who I love dearly) about why going TV-Free makes sense? I find this to be very scary, personally. Kids are so blindsighted by TV and commercials that they no longer even know what science is... or care for that matter. Very sad.