When Iowa Public Television's Kids Clubhouse host Dan Wardell told kids at the Estherville Public Library community room Thursday to turn their TVs off, he got some surprised looks at first - followed by a palpable sigh of relief from parents.
Yes, Wardell told kids to turn off their televisions and to go outside, eat healthy, and probably most importantly, to crack open a good book. And what better place to give that message than a public library.
Wardell is presenting that same message to public libraries throughout Iowa as part of his road trip this summer.
Wardell isn't the first person to make such a statement about television though.
Since the inception of television, social theorists have warned about passive media making us more passive people - Marshall McLuhan probably being the most obvious example. The thing is, though, that McLuhan has proven to be profoundly prophetic.
Does this mean there's something wrong with television, video games and the Internet per se?
Absolutely not. The point is that if kids' brains are to develop properly, they need to become active learners. And that simply doesn't happen if they're always sitting passively in front of a television.
So if you have kids, urge them to read. And if they're already readers, encourage them to read more. Incite their curiosity to explore new things and new ideas. Answer their questions, and when they stop asking questions, ask questions of them.
That's how learning happens. And that's how it should happen for everyone.