WHEN IN DOUBT, KICK 'EM OUT-AT LEAST TO PLAY

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There's one easy way for Jodi Jacobowitz to keep her son from being overwhelmed by commercials during kids' TV shows: Send him outdoors.

"He's outside 90% of the time," the North Miami Beach, Fla., resident says of her son Joshua, 7. "He watches enough TV at night when it's time to come in. He doesn't need to watch it after school."

But there are those times when Joshua is perched before the TV, watching cartoons and commercials -and getting ideas about the toys he needs next, she admits.

G.I. Joe and some new, full-motion dinosaur doll are current favorites, Joshua says, as are videogames-including Mortal Kombat.

"I think it's pretty cool," he says of the commercial for the videogame.

But that's likely to be all he sees of the popular videogame. Much to Joshua's dismay, Mom has her limits, drawn sharply at toy guns and violent videogames, such as Mortal Kombat and Street Fighter II.

Those games may be hot in other homes-and may draw constant pleas for purchase from Joshua. But they get the definitive "No" in the Jacobowitz household, she says.

"[Mortal Kombat] is to see who can pull whose heart out, or pull off whose head. I need him playing this?" she asks. "It's bad enough he sees it on TV.

"Kids have no concept of reality," Ms. Jacobowitz says. "Kids don't realize that if you really shoot somebody, they're dead. They're not going to get right back up and play again."

Given her druthers, Ms. Jacobowitz and her husband, Gary, would ban all violent commercials directed at kids, she says. Because of their ubiquity, she says, she talks to Joshua about the messages' impact.

In addition, the Jacobowitzes would want marketers to "get involved" in sending the right messages across the airwaves and relieve parents from the worry of what they kids are seeing on TV. They'd also hope parents would take a more proactive role to stave off the negative messages on TV, she says.

Ms. Jacobowitz freely admits her generation was raised playing with toy guns and was none the worse. But that was a generation ago.

"Now it's different," she says. "Now people take their parents' guns and go out and shoot people. We didn't know from that when we were little."

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