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Mesmerized by television

By Daphne Sashin, CNN

Updated 9:13 AM ET, Fri July 3, 2015
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In her photo series called "Idiot Box," Australian-born photographer Donna Stevens explores the darker side of our love for technology and its impact on the smallest viewers. These photos, shot while preschool children in New York watched their favorite TV shows, explore "the co-dependent yet contradictory relationship we all share with technology and the media," she wrote. IMP Features/Donna Stevens
"Technology is such a constant thing in our lives," Stevens said. "Everyone's going to continue the debate over whether it's harmful or it's OK. ... As a parent, you have to figure out what you're comfortable with and then work from there." For the record, she lets her 4-year-old son watch his fair share of shows ("Wild Kratts" on PBS is a favorite). IMP Features/Donna Stevens
Stevens had permission from all the parents to photograph their children watching TV, and they knew she was exploring the darker side of the medium. The subjects were children from her son's preschool, all of whom she knew to varying degrees. IMP Features/Donna Stevens
She shot the series in a friend's apartment. She turned on Netflix and let the children pick their favorite show. She says she didn't direct them in any way. "A couple, maybe one of the kids, smiled during it," she said. "Most of the time they were pretty blank." IMP Features/Donna Stevens
The parents had a good sense of humor about the photos, Stevens said. "They probably won't blow them up and put them on their walls at home ... but they saw the fun," she said. "They're pretty open-minded Brooklyn families." IMP Features/Donna Stevens
The photographer said the idea was inspired by watching her child watch cartoons on an iPad. "He could probably watch five hours straight if I let him," Stevens said of her son. "Cartoons are just so captivating and fun." IMP Features/Donna Stevens
"I don't claim to be an authority on how much screen time a child should get," Stevens said. The policy in her house is no TV before 4 p.m. "There's a lot of little things they can get out of (TV), but I just don't think watching large chunks of TV all day is the best for a child's imagination." IMP Features/Donna Stevens