Watching television occupies most of children time. Watching television comes second after sleeping in most of children’s lives (Nary, 2004). Research has also showed that television influences significantly the growth and development of children. The main areas that are significantly affected are the morals and lifestyle of the children.
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It is due to this effect that researchers have established theories to explain the influence of television viewing on children. The first theory that the researchers came up with is the stimulation hypothesis. According to Nary (2004), this theory emphasizes that if children watch well-structured programs, the programs may help them to grow well and achieve success in their studies.
The second theory that the researchers came up with is the reduction hypothesis theory that emphasizes that television can act as a medium that limits children’s achievement in their education and social life. The effects however depend on the amount of regulation i.e. how the parents of the children regulate TV watching.
It is therefore evident that watching television has different impacts on children as they grow. The effects may be either positive or negative as illustrated from the above theories.
Being the primary regulators, parents are at a dilemma on how much is too much television and how much is enough or too little. To be able to deal with the situation, it is vital to conduct a study that may help in identifying the impact of television viewing on children. This paper will therefore examine the effects that the television has on children and how they can be mitigated.
According to Worthington (2010), watching the television helps some students to develop language skills. By watching and listening, the children are able to develop their language skills if they were not coherent. Research also indicates that children who watch well structured content on the television perform well in their studies. It is however subject to how much “destructive content” they are exposed to while watching the television.
This is because most of the children tend to watch harmful material as compared to useful content. This therefore calls for parental control. The second notable benefit is that watching television helps to improve the brain muscles of children. This is due to the visual experience that is created while watching television.
As the children struggle to remember what they watched on television, their brain memory power improves significantly. If this process continues for a period, the resulting effect will be that the child will have excellent brain control especially with regard to remembering.
Some programs aired on television helps children to relax and educate them as well. For instance, some programs aired on Disney channel, expose children to new content that helps them to improve academically while at the same time relaxing. Some programs aired by some channels also provide useful tips on matters such as health, religion and education.
These tips may help the children positively if they implement them in their lives. Moreover, some careers may be modeled through watching television. For instance, a child may decide to become a news anchor or actor by watching their favorite news anchor or actor on television. By continuously watching what their favorite person is doing on television, the child may do it even better if given a chance to try the same.
Failure by parents to control the content children watch on television may expose them to harmful content. Harmful content in this case may refer to pornographic content , content with violence or programs which encourage drug use and or abuse. Some of the effects of watching such content detailed below;
Violence and aggressive behavior
Most of the content aired on most television channels is suitable for viewing by adults only. These programs are not be suitable for viewing by children since they may contain average to high level of violence. A typical movie or program revolves around a ‘good guy or guys’ taking on the villains.
Continuous watching of such movies creates an illusion that violence is the excellent means to solve a problem. The resulting effect is violence as evidenced by the increasing number of violence cases in schools especially in the United States of America. This is worsened by the fact that children tend to like aggressive characters that unfortunately in this case; are extremely violent.
As indicated earlier, watching television is the second highest consumer of children’s time after sleep. This means that most children at night will prefer to sleep or watch a television program rather than do their homework. The effect of spending too much time watching television at night leads to attention difficulties during the day especially when in class.
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The combination of lack of sleep and the emotional stress resulting from watching some programs results in sleeping disorders characterized by nightmares i.e. if the children manage to sleep. Attention disorders are the major causes of poor grades among school going children. Parents should therefore attempt to control the amount of time children spend on television sets at night. They should set the maximum number of hours to be spent by the children on television.
Children being adventurous creatures, they will rarely watch children programs the whole day and they consider news as boring. This leads them to watch music videos, soap operas and action movies that unfortunately, contain high sexual content. Watching the content leads them to get the urge to try what they have watched.
Most of them will try whatever they were watching if the situation is worsened by the fact that most of parents rarely talk about sex with their children. Sex among teenagers is dangerous as it may lead to early pregnancies and sexually transmitted infections. These consequences may have adverse effects on the education of the teenagers (Evra, 2008).
Sleep is critical especially to school going children. School performance is severely affected if the children spend most of their time watching television at night. Furthermore, if children become television fanatics, they will spend most of their time at school thinking or discussing their favorite television program. Parents should mitigate this by regulating the amount of time children spend watching television (Evert, 2011).
Too much television increases the chances of children developing obesity and couch potato syndrome (Worthington, 2010). This occurs when they spend most of their time watching television especially during holidays. This is done at the expense of playing which is vital to their health.
Furthermore, the body systems get used to the indolent nature resulting in the children becoming inactive in sports and other activities. Too much time on the screen also causes eye disorders that may be either temporary or permanent (Pecora, Murray & Wartella, 2007).
Some fast food and drug companies worsen the situation by creating adverts that target such children. The children who watch these adverts may end up consuming too much fast foods and alcohol at their young age. Research has showed that alcohol is dangerous to brain development especially in young people. Another effect is the danger of liver cirrhosis at an early age.
Another health hazardous behavior children learn from watching television programs is smoking. Even though cigarette and related advertisements have been banned in most countries, smoking is still evident in most movies and soap operas. Children will definitely copy the behavior if their favorite actor is doing the same on television.
The effect will be lung diseases at an early age (Evra, 2008). In this case, parents can only mitigate by giving sound advice to their children on the effects of drug use and abuse. This is due to their inability to fully control what their children are viewing and due to their inability to control on what is being aired by the television channels.
Children need to interact with each other in their early stages of life in order to develop social behavior (Worthington 2010). Children who spend most of their time watching television may end up developing anti social behavior due to lack of physical people to interact with. This is facilitated by watching anti-social content.
The result is that they may not fit in the society due to their lack of social skills. Learning social skills requires constant physical interaction with people. Interaction with other people has various benefits. It helps in exchanging ideas therefore the child may gain more information by interacting with others. If this does not occur, the outcome would be tragic.
Parents are the bearers of the burden posed by television channels. They are therefore charged with the highest responsibility in ensuring that children are not severely affected by what they watch. The channels may defend themselves that they are business entities therefore they should adapt to the trends in the market if they are to remain relevant.
Parents should give advice the young viewers on the effects of what they are watching then regulate the activity physically. Media regulatory councils in different countries should provide strict guidelines on what is to be aired on television at different times. The media companies should not also be blinded by profit motives. They should consider the young viewers by airing content that will not harm them (Evra, 2008).
It is imperative to note that children are influenced greatly by what they watch on television. As indicated in the study, there are both positive and negative impacts. The negatives however outweigh the positives with a large margin. This means that television watching among children – especially unregulated watching – is a destructive element to the life of the young television enthusiasts.
Furthermore, it is also vital to conclude that parents are the ones who are charged with the responsibility of controlling their children with regard to watching television. The respective authorities that govern television channels should also put in place policies that control the content being aired by the channels.
Evert, C. (2011). PBS Kids Launches Its First Educational Augmented reality App. Retrieved from: https://remakelearning.org/blog/2011/12/07/pbs-kids-launches-its-first-educational-augmented-reality-app/
Evra, J. (2008). Television and Child development. New Jersey, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.
Nary, S. (2004). Exploring Pathways from Television Viewing to Academic Achievement in School Age Children. The Journal of Genetic Psychology, 165(4), 367–371.
Pecora, N., Murray, J. & Wartella, E. (2007). Children and Television: Fifty Years of Research. New Jersey, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.
Worthington, B. (2010). Television Programming on Young Children’s Acquisition of Basic Concepts and Social Interaction Skills. Arkansas: Arkansas State University.