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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 Kid’s 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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All i have to say is Jersey shore, Honey BooBoo child, Tolders in Tiares, real housewives, most game shows, the bachelorette, and the list could go on for days, don't even try and tell me these shows aren't toxic to our society. Especially T&T that show needs to be made illegal asap, its just soft core child porn.
Television is taking up so much of society's already limited time. It is acceptable to a certain extent.
99% of all the houses located in the United States will have a television. This is hardly surprising, as today, we live in a society where information is able travel to any corner of the world in a matter of seconds, which means that the general pace and speed at which the world moves has quickened significantly as well. On average a teenager will spend roughly twenty hours a week in front of the television screen, watching either a series, a documentary, the news or whatever is on, and 56% of them will watch it from their own rooms, on their own television. They will spend the same amount of time placed in front of a screen, as they do outside by the time they are six (36% of will do this in their own room with their privet television as well) and will witness approximately 11,000 murders and 200,000 acts of violence by the time they are in their late teens. In only one day, the television will be on for about eight hours in an average home. So really, nowadays, children are growing up to believe more and more that watching an unholy and unhealthy amount of television should be a part of their daily life.
Television can be a terrible influence, especially on children. If the television they watch is not controlled children often watch violent and inappropriate programs that they can not really understand. Due to this children can fight with other children and harm them, without realizing what they are doing simply because they saw it on TV. Watching too much TV can also prevent people from going outside, and socializing which are necessary in life.
People Tend to Imitate what they have seen on T.V without Awareness or Thinking if it is Wrong or True, Suitable or not!
People sometimes behave like what they see on T.V. Take romantic films to illustrate, they hope to be treated like some characters on film. When they can not receive that in reality, they become angry or disappointed. This is the root of broken relationship in the real life. Accidentally, people gradually depend more and more on T.V.
Television has a bad influence on children.
Some children watch TV so much that they daydream it anywhere they are, in school or otherwise. Some of them think and talk about programs they've seen when lessons are going on. They develop ideas based on what they've seen on television. My stand is that TV causes distractions, teaches them bad words, cheating, fighting, smoking (yes, when a little boy/girl rolls a paper and acts like a smoker), revenge and other vices. Parents have a lot in their hands to check what they see on TV.
It erase memory and most of the kids don't do anything and the are now fatter
For little kids tv is very dad doesn't matter it have educative programs because they are going to see more and more and some use violence because they so that in tv is the most normal recourse. So kids have dad grades on tv and do not sleep well because all time they are seeing tv.
Massive waste of time
TV is terrible. Think about it; you're sitting on the couch, staring at a rectangle for hours. You're not interacting, you're not using your brain, you're just staring into a box like a brain-dead moron. I used to have a roommate who would watch entire SEASONS of Kitchen Nightmares and Pawn Stars from morning 'till night. That's all he did. It's pathetic and sad. Get off the damned couch and DO SOMETHING!
Horrible Influence !!!!
It makes no sense to me why any person would sit and stare at a screen all day. It's just stupid. It wastes time when there are so many better things you could be doing. Plus, it wastes money, with people spending so much on flat screens. AND its a bad influence on children. It makes them violent and gives them horrible ideas about the way life should be liven.
Think of the kids
The kids of the earth don't want to be scared by violence and inappropriate scenes. Some scary scenes could scare children for life or just give them nightmares. I think that this topic should be raised all over the world and not just on the web. I am disgusted that anyone thought otherwise.
Yes it bad
TV viewing has really harmed the children. Their mind is the most impressionable one. Anything wrong printed on it, is difficult to remove. I submit that the most telling effect is on children’s health. Many have to wear spectacles because of weak eyesight due to continuous viewing of TV. The regularity of life suffers a lot. Homework is its victim. Studies are not done properly to save time for TV.
I feel strongly that TV viewing exposes the children to an easy life as it is seen in films. But outside, the life is different. Children think that life is like that as is seen in films etc. So this causes frustration at a later stage. The gap between dream (things are shown materializing in a moment in the programmers’ more popular with children as in a dream) and reality increases and results in disillusionment. So TV viewing is not helping children in making them as responsible and understanding adults. In my opinion, we are giving them an environment which will drift them away from the realities of life. I submit that life is not simply a bed of roses. This will lead to frustration and disillusionment. We, in fact, are weakening the very foundation of our young India by exposing it to TV viewing.