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Busy, successful children and nothing less

June 21, 2004

I was surprised to find my family featured in the article "Losing Focus: Young TV Watchers May Be at Risk for Later Attention Problems" (May 24). When I spoke to your reporter, I began by saying that I didn't believe there was any correlation between television and ADD in kids. Based on that, I did not expect to find my family the focus of such a story. In fact, my one appropriately used statement was that I believe children are "born who they are."

But my comments were molded to fit a foregone conclusion. The study was about the habits of kids up to age 3, when my kids' TV-watching hours were actually quite limited. Nowhere is reported what I said of my penchant for reading to the kids nightly and joking that my 13-year-old said he didn't read as much as I wanted him to because I read to him too much. Nowhere is it mentioned that my kids are busy and successful students, athletes, musicians and friends. Nowhere is it mentioned that among many children of our age and culture -- not just mine -- watching the TV, surfing the Net, IM-ing and talking on the phone are frequently simultaneous activities.

It's one thing to be portrayed as a mom who muses but cannot make up her mind to "pull the plug" and another thing entirely to have my kids portrayed as something they are not. To choose our family as the center of the article was a mischaracterization at best.

Anna Boorstin

Venice

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As the mother of two adopted children, one of whom watched minimal TV and turned out to have ADD, the other of whom is a constant TV watcher but has no attention problems at all, I can attest that genetics must be the biggest influence in the development of attention problems.

None of the persons interviewed even referred to the reason I believe attention problems and TV watching go hand in hand. It is generally accepted that children with ADD tend to be very visual. Children with attention problems can be very demanding, prompting their parents to find a way to give themselves an occasional break, and what better way than with something that has visual appeal?

Of course, the more severe the attention problem, the more this type of appeasement is going to be used. In my opinion, watching a lot of TV is a symptom of attention problems, not the cause.

Catherine M. Adams

Agoura Hills

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