February 17, 2013
Children and Television
According to the AC Nielson Company, 2007 the average American child will watch eight thousands murders before finishing elementary school. In years past children went outside for recreation, this tradition has now been replaced with television contributing to childhood obesity. The time children today are spending watching television has reached critical levels causing many experts to be concerned for their social skills and physical health.
In America children are watching between four to five hours of television a day, with exposure to an additional four hours of background television. This is double the recommendation of the American Academy of Pediatrics. Television is quickly replacing peer interaction, reading, family bonding time, and physical activity. These are all very important aspects of a childs development, and taking the place of beneficial activities like family interaction, reading, and playing with friends. Parents need to implement rules and set clear limitations on viewing times and content and urge other parents to follow the same path. Treat television as a privilege instead of a right, and have the children earn their viewing time. For example, homework and any household chores should be completed before the television is allowed to be turned on. Allow the children to be a part of the programming decisions so they feel included in the decision making. Typically a movie lasts between ninety minutes upwards of two hours; explain if they choose to watch there will be no more television for the day. Choosing a program the entire family can enjoy together works as double duty precious bonding time, and monitoring.
A larger problem with society today is television has become babysitters for our children. Because of finances many children often spend a number of hours unmonitored until their parents arrive home. During this time children often turn to television to combat boredom, there are many community programs and after school programs that offers free and low cost care. In other instances parents and caregivers find it easier to turn on a program to occupy children why they complete household tasks. Television cannot be used like a pacifier to quiet children; parents need to find other means to stimulate their children. Parents with busy schedules can use household tasks as bonding time by allowing child to help fix dinner, or fold clothes. Families should implement time out periods such as dinner where there is no television allowed. This time should be used to catch up on the events in each other’s lives. Try starting new traditions like a family game night where you play cards or board games.
Currently experts are at odds on whether or not early exposure to television causes developmental delays. The American Academy of Pediatrics advises toddlers two and under has no television contact at all. Toddlers tend learn from personal contact rather than media stimulation. (HealthyChildren.org, 11/3) Some programs can have a positive impact like PBS Kids Sesame Street and Sid the Science Guy encourage children through interaction. Both shows encourage children to solve problems, use hand-eye coordination, and practice their fine motor skills. It is difficult for children to concentrate fully on homework if the television is on; the background noise is not conducive to learning. Recent information show concern of background television exposure “As evidence begins to grow that background television exposure has negative consequences for young children, we need to take notice of the dramatic levels of American children’s exposure to background television documented by this international team of communications researchers,” (Baylor Health, 04/1) Television can also lead to solitary behavior, instead parents should encourage children to interact with others.