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Parents usually have a complaint that their kids are glued to the television for long hours. But is this a cause for concern? As a parent, you may have questions about the impact of television on your children. Is TV for kids good or bad? How much TV should kids watch every day? What kind of TV shows can be watched? If these are some of the questions you have, then keep reading.
MomJunction gives you an insight about the good and bad effects of television on children and how a parent can deal with it.
Role Of Television In Your Kids Life:
Let’s face the fact that television is not going anywhere anytime soon. So, not buying a TV to keep your child ‘safe’ does not guarantee that he will not be exposed to it. He can watch TV at school, at a friend’s house or any other place.
But this does not mean you cannot control the influence of television on your children. As a parent, you can decide how much TV your kid sees.
[ Read: Effects Of Advertising On children ]
Positive Effects Of Television On Kids:
TV is not bad. When exposed to the right shows or programs, your child can learn good things. Research indicates that television can have a positive impact on children. It can help them change their behavior and attitude for good (1). Here are some more ways in which TV can have a positive influence on kids.
1. Educational Content
A few television channels are dedicated to creating educational and informative content for the audience, especially children. Sesame Street, for example, is one such program which is aimed at preschoolers.
There are a few channels that broadcast only educational content covering subjects like art and craft, science, history, geography and math. TV is also a great medium that exposes children to different languages around the world.
Allowing your children to watch news channels, with a little guidance, will help them stay updated with the current affairs and names of significant people in the world.
TV is one of the primary sources of entertainment for kids. The sounds and colorful images on the screen appeal to children and also retain their attention. From movies to cartoon shows, there are several programs to keep children engaged.
However, make sure that the content is appropriate for your kids, based on their age and level of understanding.
The best way to expose your kids to sports is through TV. Encourage them to watch different sports like tennis, soccer, baseball and basketball, by co-viewing with them. Tell them about the gameplay, rules and other interesting facts about the sport. If they show interest in any, encourage them to play the game or sport.
4. Exposure to different cultures
Television lets you travel around the world without you ever having to step out of your home. It takes your child to different countries and educates them about various cultures in the world. With the right choice of programs, your child can learn about people and their traditions, lifestyles and attitudes.
[ Read: How To Get Your Child Into Modeling ]
5. Television Can Inspire
TV shows aimed at young children and adolescents are not only educational but also inspiring. Educational TV programs encourage children to try new things. For example, a TV show about creative fun can inspire a child to try something new with clay, paints or paper. Likewise, a documentary about famous scientists, artists and other public figures can also inspire them to do good deeds or achieve something big in life.
6. 3D TV And Programs
3D technology has changed the way we experience television. 3D television programs and movies offer an enhanced experience to kids. Although the popularity of 3D TV has been on the decline in the recent past, there are still a few networks offering educational programs in 3D.
The American Optometric Association has confirmed that 3D can be viewed by most children (2). If your child has trouble, consult a medical professional.
Negative Effects Of Television On Children
TV affects children negatively as well. Unfortunately, the adverse effects seem to outnumber the positive ones. Here are a few ways in which TV can be a bad influence on your children.
1. Curbs Physical Activity
The term “couch potato” was framed after televisions came into our living rooms. Addiction to TV shows reduced the amount of physical activity in children. Sometimes, they refuse to do anything else but watch TV all day.
- Lack of proper physical activity and too much screen time can lead to vision problems.
- Research has also indicated that there is a direct connection between TV time and obesity in kids (3).
2. Impacts Social Development
Who needs company when there is TV? Kids who watch a lot of TV do not have time to play or socialize.
Less or no interaction with peers can affect their social development. TV eats away the time they get to interact with other children in their social circle, which may affect their knowledge and understanding of social interactions and behavior.
[ Read: Emotional Development In Children ]
3. Affects Brain Development And Behavior
TV may be educational, but excessive watching could affect your child’s brain development, according to studies (4). The first couple of years in your child’s life are very important for brain development.
- Researchers in Japan found that watching TV too much can alter the brain structure.
- Another study by The John Hopkins University states that toddlers who watch television for more than two hours a day can have behavioral problems (5).
Even educational shows like Sesame Street and Dora the Explorer are good for children aged six or above.
4. Exposure To Vices
You cannot control what is shown on television. You may also not always be able to control what your kid watches on the TV.
- Early exposure to inappropriate content that has sex, alcohol, and drugs, could bring up questions in children, the answers to which may be too complicated for them to understand. The worst part is that early exposure can even give them a distorted view of these elements.
- The violence portrayed in a “positive” light in superhero movies and the like give them an idea that it is “okay” to be violent. So kids watching TV shows based on superheroes may start believing that violence is not bad.
- It may even encourage violent and aggressive behavior in some kids, which can be detrimental to their social development (6). In some children, this behavior may surface immediately while in some, it could come up during the later years.
5. Gives A Distorted View Of The World
Television might lead to the “scary world syndrome” in kids.
- Movies and other television shows may exaggerate reality and create extremely violent scenes online, which may be terrifying for kids.
- The amount of violence and guns used on TV may give them an impression that the world is an unsafe place for them.
- At the same time, animated and cartoon shows, which underplay the effects of violence may desensitize kids to the real world events.
Another bane of television is consumerism. The number of ads that a child sees on TV exposes them to a variety of brands and products that they may not need.
- Commercials encourage kids to consume unhealthy foods and drinks.
- Children begin to believe that fast food, ice creams, and carbonated drinks are good.
- Parents become the victims of consumerism as kids insist on buying something that they saw on TV. They are forced to spend money on things that their children want but do not need.
[ Read: Good Habits For School children ]
What Can Parents Do?
Parents have to take a stand when it comes to television. If you want to protect your children from the damaging effects of television, here is what you can do.
1. Choose The Right TV Shows
The first step is to figure out what shows are appropriate for children. You will have to do some research to understand the content and the message that the show sends out to the audience. Do not pick a show just because it is for children. Keep in mind the following factors before you decide what to watch for kids:
- The contentof the show must be appropriate for your child’s age.
- Pick shows with shorter duration. The longer they watch, the more the chances of them getting addicted.
- Check the tone and pace of the show as you would not want your kids to watch an energetic show before going to bed.
- Do not let them watch ads. Kids are naïve and commercials can be manipulative as their primary goal is to sell products by convincing their impressionable audience.
- Encourage them to watch educational programsby watching them yourselves.
2. Limit TV Time For Kids
Children aged between two and five watch TV for an average of 32 hours every week, while those aged between six and 11 watch for 28 hours a week (7). The numbers are increasing at an alarming rate. While you may not be able to control how much TV your kids watch outside, you can surely limit it at home. Here’s how.
- No television during mealtime: Do not allow your kids to watch TV while they are eating. Ensure that you have dinner together, if possible, at the dinner table with no TV in the background.
- Remove TV from the bedroom: TV in bedrooms is a bad idea, especially for kids as prolonged exposure to screens can affect their sleeping habits.
- TV is not a babysitter: It is common for parents to use the television as a babysitter when they want to do something without being disturbed by their kids. When you are busy, you may not be able to monitor what the kids are watching, and that can expose them to inappropriate content.
- Television in the background: It is common to leave the TV turned on in the background when you are busy in the kitchen, doing the laundry or working from home. That will only draw the child’s attention to the idiot box. Do not switch on the TV unless you want to watch something.
- Set TV time rules for school days: Chalk out specific TV times for kids for weekdays and weekends and stick to them. That will prevent them from watching too much TV on any given day.
[ Read: How Much Screen Time For Kids Is Okay ]
3. Make It A Family Activity
Make watching TV a fun family activity, instead of a means to pass the time. That will discourage your children to watch it when they are bored or alone at home.
Frequently Asked Questions
1. How can television impact child development?
As mentioned earlier, television can affect a child’s brain development and influence their behavior. It can curb their physical activity, social interaction and also cognitive development in some cases.
2. Can babies and toddlers watch TV?
Experts recommend that children under two years of age should not be exposed to TV, as it can be detrimental to their cognitive, social and physical development. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, parents allow more than 40% of infants and babies to watch TV. Just because the show is designed for infants and toddlers, does not mean it is right for them (8).
3. What is media violence?
Media violence is the portrayal of violent and aggressive behavior on screen for the purpose of entertainment. The aggression is usually led by a human or a human-like character on screen (9).
Television can do good and also bad to your children. Remember that TV is not the villain. But it can become one if you do not use caution when exposing your children to it.
Share your opinions about children and television by using our comments section below.
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Television has come a long way since its invention in the ’s. People around the world have got to witness many historical events such as, the first man to walk on the moon, to even the inauguration of our first African American president. Although there were many great moments in history viewed on television, not many of the programs offered on stations are valuable.
There have been many arguments on whether or not television has been a good influence on our children. I feel there are many advantages and disadvantages to television. But sometimes, television may not always be a good source of information for children and their development. There is also no excuse to use television to babysit children. Children become affected from over exposure to television. I feel television is fine if viewed in moderation. There are many alternative activities we can do instead of sitting on our couch and watching pointless shows.
The usefulness of television has been a very controversial argument over the years. I feel there are a lot of both positive and negative properties about television. The positive side of television, there are many educational programs that help inform us. The news channel is an excellent example of such. News broadcasts can tell us about disasters that may have occurred, weather forecasts, and current events. Children may also watch shows that help with learning basics. Another pro is the integration of culture into our society.
However, with the pros come many negative effects. Spending too much time watching television, consumes the precious time that can be spent in productive and healthy activities like exercise or reading. It also uses up the time that you can spend interacting with your family and friend. Children today watch television for long periods. The dependence to television deprives them of their time to play. It would be better for children to involve themselves in physical activities during the evenings instead of sitting inactively.
Physical activities can help them live a healthier life. In addition, watching television is damaging to vision. Researchers claim that attention deficit disorders in children result from watching television for long periods. Television leads to developmental disorders, damaging the capability of the brain which is in control of language skills. Children who watch more television show difficulties in paying attention or concentrating. Television is one of the effective media used to promote all kinds of products. Unsupervised television watching in children can lead to early exposure to things they may not understand.
Television advertisements may influence the children to use wrong methods. Eye catching advertisements and film stories deeply impact young minds. They associate their life to television shows and films. Studies in psychology have shown that watching intense emotions on television leaves a long-lasting impact on ones mind. Horror scenes, ghosts, unpleasant scenes that are shown on television have a negative effect on the minds of people watching them. Violence, killing, massacre and physical abuse that is shown on television impacts the thoughts and emotions of the viewers.
Research shows about 25% of parents use television to occupy their children; or in other words babysit them. Some 70% of the 1, mothers & fathers were polled as part of the national year of communication survey say they do not feel guilty about allowing their children to watch TV. And 42% think it is a great way for children to learn.
On the dfknj.wz.cz website, a survey was taken and many parents say bring conversations on about what they’ve learned from watching the shows on television. In actuality only 15% of families start conversations based on tv. There is certainly no excuse to have your child sit in front of the television screen. Children can do a whole list of activities that are better worth the time such as reading or going outside and getting active.