Is the TV a positive or negative influence on children\'s development?




It is a discussion that has been going on for generations now, and one which evokes for strong, passionate opinions from either side of the debate. Since televisions were invented over a century ago, they have been a source of continuous polemics, garnering equal parts of praise and consternation on behalf of the population at large. There is no aspect of the TV debate that brings out opinions as fervent and self-righteous as the part dedicated to analyzing the effect TV has on children. The young are always a subject of greater concern, as if adults were not corruptible and impressionable—leaving that issue aside, it seems natural that children\'s viewing habits be a topic of concern, as the early years in anybody\'s life are the most formative and critical. So, what is the verdict (or is there one?) on the effect of TV on children\'s development?The simple fact is that there is not a prevailing consensus on the matter. It is simply too difficult to do a scientific, objective study of the matter, and it is furthermore highly contingent on variables that differ from home to home, from family to family, and from child to child. What people can agree on, more or less, is that too much television is bad for a child\'s development; also, that controlling the kind of programming a child can watch is virtually the only way to ensure that the tube isn\'t adversely affecting a kid\'s mental and behavioral growth.Let us begin with an analysis of the kinds of negative effects that television can have on children. For starters, it is important to understand that most of these negative effects (though not all) are noticeable in children that watch excessive amounts of television, generally three hours or more of television per day on average. Given the fact that most kids watch between three and four hours of television per day on average, these are effects that could very well be affecting the current generation of children in the country, and in many parts of the world where television viewing statistics are comparable to the levels observed here. For one thing, watching a lot of TV has been proven to adversely affect the physical health of children: their eyesight is worsened by the constant squinting and the brightness of the screen (staring into a light source for hours at a time takes its source); additionally, because of the lack of physical exercise experienced by kids watching lots of TV, it is common to see obesity as well as low immune system activity in such persons. On the social level, watching lots of TV has been shown to retard a child\'s ability to effectively interact with other people, on a one-to-one basis and also in a group setting. Excessive television viewing has also been indicated to weaken a person\'s (or child\'s) critical thinking process, accepting information given without questioning it, assuming that the source is legitimate and valid—the mere fact that something is being broadcast on TV, a prestigious medium, leads many people, especially young ones, to tacitly accept as authoritative practically anything being shown on the screen.Television is raising alarm among teachers and pedagogues because there is a trend indicating that television viewing has replaced book reading almost entirely among the youngest generations. This complements the recently mentioned concern that the critical thinking process is subverted—the TV seems to be leading to an inferior development of a child\'s mental faculties...or is it?As with any argument, there are two sides to the coin. Practically all of the aforementioned negative effects can be averted or at least diminished by parents properly controlling the TV viewing habits and practices of their children. Nothing, absolutely nothing can be as effective in this regard as an attentive, active parent that takes a strong interest in their child\'s development, both physical and mental. First of all, parents need to be making sure that a child doesn\'t have access to programming material that is ill-suited for their age group; this is a subject that also raises differing opinions, but most people will agree that a child of 7 years old shouldn\'t be watching violent, sexually and verbally explicit programming. Using the parental controls offered by the majority of cable and satellite TV providers is one of the best tools in counteracting any perceived or real negative effects of the TV on kids.Next is the adequate control of the amount of hours a child is allowed to watch TV. Not only should average daily hours be brought down to below two, but furthermore it is best for a child not to get into the habit of watching the TV every day or night. Designate certain days as TV free, either explicitly or implicitly (by doing other activities with the participation of the child, thereby making it impossible for them to watch the tube). After all, boredom is one of the principal reasons for which people (young and old) switch on the tube. Then, be sure to encourage your child to watch educational programming: there are several excellent channels that are exclusively dedicated to educating youths, with certain channels focusing on the toddler and infant range, and other channels focusing on the mid-childhood and adolescent range. Instead of having your kid watch some dumb program where all they will be absorbing is violence, foul language, and other social behaviors you surely don\'t want to have mimicked in your home, have them watch a program that will teach them how to read, explain some science and math to them, teach them about the planet and the environment and difference species of animals and plants and other life, etc. The more a parent learns to exploit these televised resources, the more likely the balance of affairs will fall on the "positive" and not the "negative" end.Hence, it is perhaps necessary to rephrase the question made at the beginning, as its focus is somewhat misguided. Instead of asking ourselves whether the TV is affecting children\'s development, we should be asking ourselves whether parents\' use and disposal of the TV in the home is affecting children\'s development—in this way, perhaps more people will start assuming the responsibilities that rightfully correspond to them.--One thing many parents worry about is whether watching the TV will affect their children\'s social and behavioural development. This article looks at both sides of the debate.Source: http://www.articletrader.com
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