Television And Kids

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Winter time in Illinois can be cold and dreary. We know our KCCC students are rambunctious and ready to get outside to play. More times than not we use the Television to entertain them but how much TV is too much? Here are some positive and negative effects of television on children according to SAGARI GONGALA (Psychological Counselor)

Positive Effects Of Television On Kids

The television is not always bad. When exposed to the right shows or programs, your child can learn useful things. It can help them change their behavior and attitude for the better. Here are some more ways in which TV can have a positive influence on kids.

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. The 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. Please keep in mind to keep it age appropriate!

Entertainment

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. Moderation is key. The TV is not a babysitter.

Sports

Encourage your kids 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.

Exposure to different cultures

The TV can help your child to learn about different countries and teach them about various cultures in the world. With the right choice of programs, your child might learn about various people around the world, their traditions, lifestyles, and cultures.

Television might 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.

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Your kids can reap all these benefits from watching TV or the internet only when you guide them to watch the right shows for a limited time.

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends limiting screen time and the types of media that children aged six and older watch. For children between the ages of two and five years, screen time should be limited to one hour per day and must only include high-quality programs.

Digital media can quietly take over your children’s lives if you are not cautious. The “just one more hour” could extend if not corrected at an early stage.

Negative Effects Of Television On Children

TV affects children negatively as well. Unfortunately, the adverse effects seem to outnumber the positive ones when you do not pay attention. Here are a few ways in which TV can be a bad influence on your children.

Curbs physical activity

Addiction to TV shows reduces 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.

Impacts social development

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.

Affects brain development and behavior

TV shows may be educational, but excessive watching could affect your child’s brain development, according to studies. The first couple of years in your child’s life are very important for brain development.

  • Researchers found that prolonged TV viewing might lower cognitive abilities related to short-term memory, early reading, math skills, and language development.
  • Another study by The John Hopkins University states that toddlers who watch television for more than two hours a day can have behavioral problems.

Even educational shows like Sesame Street and Dora the Explorer are recommended for children aged six or above.

Exposure to vices

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 gives 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. In some children, this behavior may surface immediately, while in some, it could come up during the later years.

Gives a distorted view of the world

Television might lead to the “mean world syndrome” in kids and teenagers.

  • 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 the 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 real-world events.

Consumerism

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.

Use the button below for more good information and sources

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.

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 content of 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 programs by watching them yourselves.

Limit TV Time For Kids

The number of hours children spend watching digital media 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 it. Do not switch on the TV unless you want to watch something.
  • Set TV time rules for school days: Chalk out specific TV time for kids for weekdays and weekends and stick to them. That will prevent them from watching too much TV on any given day.

Make It A Family Activity

Try to make watching TV a fun family activity, instead of a means to pass the time. That will discourage your children from watching it when they are bored or alone at home.

Encourage Physical Activity

One more thing you could do is encourage your children to go out and play. This might help in shifting their attention away from the digital media. If your kids are resisting, then try these:

  • Organize play dates with your neighbor’s kids.
  • Participate with them in some outdoor games.
  • Encourage them to participate in games and sports at school.
  • Reward them if they voluntarily ditch the TV to play outdoors.

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 they will not be exposed to it. They can watch TV at school, at a friend’s house, or at 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. If your kids are old enough to understand, then explain to them why you are limiting the screen time and how it can affect them; this might reduce the resistance.

References and Sources:

 Changing behavior through TV heroes; American Psychological Association
 3D is OK for Most Kids, says the American Optometric Association; Consumer Reports
 American Academy of Pediatrics Announces New Recommendations for Children’s Media Use; American Academy of Pediatrics
Steven L. Gortmaker; Television Viewing as a Cause of Increasing Obesity Among Children in the United States, 1986-1990; JAMA Network
 Screen time and young children: Promoting health and development in a digital world; Pediatrics and Child Health
 Childhood TV Viewing a Risk for Behavior Problems; Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health
 TV Violence and Children; American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry
 Media Violence; Pediatrics- The Official Journal Of Pediatrics
 Kids and Digital Media; C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital
L. Rowell Huesmann; The Impact of Electronic Media Violence: Scientific Theory and Research; NCBI(2009)

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