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Few parents would argue with the American Academy of Pediatrics report this week that says American children watch too much television. It is one thing to say that and quite another to follow the report's recommendation that youngsters' exposure to TV should be cut in half or more. But it ought to be attempted.

The academy study said that excessive television viewing by children leads to aggressive and violent behavior as well as making youngsters obese from lack of exercise and from eating while watching the TV screen.Children ages 2 to 5 watch about 25 hours of TV a week; 6- to 11-year-olds more than 22 hours, and 12- to 17-year-olds about 23 hours weekly. Clearly, this average is far too much, exposing children to many unacceptable kinds of programming, including what the academy called "a steady diet of violence."

Spokesmen for the academy suggested that TV watching be limited to about one to two hours per day, preferably closer to one hour. They said the time saved should be spent in reading, athletics and hobbies.

The pediatrics academy, which has 39,000 members, said television needs to do something about the way it portrays violence and sex, to eliminate alcohol ads on television and use extensive anti-drinking ads.

One of the major problems cited by the academy is sex-laden soap operas that are shown during the day when many small children watch television.

To make sure that children are spared the worst effects of television, parents must get more involved in deciding what the youngster watch, when they watch and how much they watch. Unfortunately, too many parents use television as an electronic baby sitter.

Parents must make sure that the programming their youngsters watch is acceptable. The best course is to have something more constructive for them to do. Admittedly, that can be very hard work, but the effort eventually will pay dividends.